University of Richmond’s Sustainability Plan builds upon decades of leadership in sustainability. The University lays claim to Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s first conservation easement, Central Virginia’s first LEED-certified building, and the state’s first solar array under a pilot power purchase program. In both 2013 and 2016, UR achieved a Silver rating in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS). We have signed commitments to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement, and incorporate sustainability and environmental literacy into our teaching, research, operations and outreach. We recognize with both admiration and gratitude the scores of individuals whose efforts in decades past laid the groundwork for sustainability becoming an institutional priority at University of Richmond.

Through University of Richmond’s first Sustainability Plan, we reaffirm our commitment to sustainability. Goal 1 focuses on academics and preparing our scholars to develop solutions to complex social, environmental, and economic problems. Goal 2 works to instill a stewardship mindset and incorporate sustainability practices into everyday life. Goal 3 describes specific operational strategies to assess the impact of our actions, eliminate harm, and work toward the establishment of regenerative practices that rebuild and restore the systems upon which we depend. Finally, Goal 4 identifies the leaders and resources needed to activate and support sustainability at all levels of the University. Collectively, these initiatives inform our ongoing efforts to foster stewardship and drive innovation to meet the most significant challenges of our time.

Guiding Principles


We pursue sustainability with purpose and forethought, mindful of our interconnectedness and the potential consequences our actions have on the ecological and social systems that support us.


We are grateful for the efforts of people, past and present, who have championed sustainability, often behind the scenes and without any expectation of recognition or reward. Advancement of sustainability builds upon the foundation they laid. We commit to taking the time to recognize and celebrate those who do work that supports us all.


Only by coming together can we achieve what is needed to address the local and global challenges we face. Sustainability is inherently interdisciplinary and all of us are needed to create lasting change.

Sense of Place

Our unique culture, location, campus, people, and traditions – collectively our sense of place – generate feelings of attachment to and identity with the University of Richmond. Sustainability efforts inform and enhance this relationship, inspiring both pride and stewardship.

Continuous Learning

We will promote and facilitate collective learning that increases our understanding of sustainability, what it means to the University, and how our actions matter. This plan supports the attainment, transfer, integration, and dissemination of knowledge to support both sustainability and the University’s mission.

Willingness to Act

We will take concrete steps to steward our campus, community, and beyond, actively participating in the creation of a better tomorrow for current and future generations.

Engagement Process

This plan was built around a shared vision of weaving sustainability into the fabric of the University to steward our natural and human resources. In January of 2018, UR brought on integrated design firm SmithGroup and formed a Steering Committee to develop a sustainability plan aligned with the University’s Strategic Plan.

The first step in this process was conducting a detailed analysis of the current state of sustainability at UR. This involved a thorough examination of past efforts, including review of the 2010 Climate Action Plan, 2011 Campus Master Plan, 2013 and 2016 STARS appraisals, and the 2017 Sustainability Report. University personnel were interviewed to discuss existing conditions, challenges, and near-term project plans, and utility data was examined. Findings from this process presented a clear picture of challenges and opportunities. The Office for Sustainability then summarized this information in sustainability “fact sheets” to make it accessible to planning committees and the broader University community.

In early spring 2018, a robust stakeholder engagement process was initiated to develop a set of shared goals and strategies representative of the entire campus. The Steering Committee ensured that students, staff, faculty, and community members were involved in every stage of the plan’s development. A campus-wide survey, intercept interviews, workshops, presentations, class research, and key-informant interviews comprised a half-year engagement process aimed at defining sustainability plan priorities.

Concurrent with this effort, the Sustainability and Environmental Awareness Committee (SEAC) developed working groups around the emerging focus areas of teaching, engagement, operations, and leadership. Based on current state research and stakeholder engagement outcomes, the working groups developed an initial list of goals and strategies. The Steering Committee utilized this work to create a preliminary draft plan. An iterative process of review, refinement, and consolidation followed, incorporating community input and narrowly-focused expert evaluation to generate successive drafts. These efforts culminated near-final draft for community consideration via a series of “roadshow” presentations, a town hall, and an online feedback form that reached more than 700 individuals.

The final plan was reviewed by the Sustainability and Environmental Awareness Committee and senior administrators. Final approval of the Sustainability Plan was signed by President Ronald Crutcher in early 2019.