Efforts to get students involved in sustainability have earned Virginia Tech a Bronze Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award.

The award recognizes environmental and conservation leadership in sustainability and land conservation in Virginia. This is the sixth time the university has been honored and the first time its student engagement efforts were recognized.

A group of 18 interns with the Office of Energy and Sustainability are the primary drivers of the student engagement program. Their efforts such as Sustainability Week, Recyclemania, and the Turn Down 4 Watt energy conservation competition inform students about environmental issues and get them to take action.

“As interns we have worked hard to directly engage students on sustainability issues, both in person and on social media, because all lasting change begins with a conversation,” said Amory Fischer of Charlottesville, Virginia, an intern and  junior majoring in environmental policy and planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Fischer and his fellow interns have recently spent a lot of time educating students about compostable to-go containers available in dining halls.

Other efforts by the university to engage students in sustainability include the Green RFP program, which allows students to submit green projects for funding, and the Ytoss collection and sale, which, since it began in 2006, has diverted more than 90 tons from the waste stream during student move-out.

“Getting students to lead more sustainable lives will help the university reach its climate action goals,” said Emily Schosid, sustainability planner and coordinator of outreach efforts.

Virginia Tech’s Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan, which was reaffirmed in 2013, commits the university to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; improving energy efficiency and recycling, and pursuing LEED Silver certification standards or better for new campus buildings.

A sustainable campus makes a difference when it comes to recruiting prospective students. A recent Princeton Review survey, found that 61 percent of students reported a school's commitment to environmental sustainability was somewhat, very, or extremely important in their decision to attend a particular school.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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