Wildflower meadows, pollinator gardens, and native flower landscaping efforts are among the 13 student-proposed sustainability projects moving toward implementation on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. These proposals coincide with recent Bee Campus USA efforts on Virginia Tech’s campus, pushing to preserve pollinator biodiversity by enhancing pollinator habitat. 

Students are able to play a key role in fostering a more sustainable university for future generations of Hokies through the Green RFP program. Each year, the Office of Sustainability seeks proposals from student groups for campus sustainability projects that support Virginia Tech’s Climate Action Commitment.

When developing their proposed sustainability projects, students are encouraged to collaborate with subject-matter experts at the university and consider funding sources, long-term cost savings, and volunteer opportunities.

Proposals are reviewed by the Office of Sustainability and submitted to the Energy and Sustainability Committee for consideration. The committee prioritizes the proposals and forwards their recommendations to the Office of Budget and Financial Planning for further review, approval, and funding consideration.

Nearly $268,000 will go toward implementation of Green RFP projects submitted for the coming academic year.

Alongside proposals to increase pollinator habitat were submissions to enhance existing habitats on campus. Proposals to restore the old growth forest adjacent to Lane Stadium and build out the riparian buffer along Stroubles Creek were both approved in this cycle. 

Other funded projects include:

  • Rainwater harvesting system.
  • New occupancy sensors for lighting and HVAC.
  • New water fountains with water bottle refill stations.
  • Bicycle locker in Perry Street Parking Garage.
  • Additional and improved covered bicycle racks in multiple campus locations.
  • Water-efficient, low-flow appliances in residence halls.
  • More.

Since the Green RFP program’s inception in 2010, over $1.75 million has been allocated toward 123 eco-friendly projects on the Blacksburg campus.

“Student engagement, climate justice, infrastructure improvements, and academic partnerships are fundamental elements of Virginia Tech’s Climate Action Commitment’s efforts. It has been exciting to witness so many student-submitted sustainability projects be implemented on campus that touch on those areas. We’ll continue to draw upon students’ ideas and excitement to make Virginia Tech a more sustainable place,” said Assistant Vice President for Infrastructure and Chief Sustainability Officer Mary-Ann Ibeziako. 

Student involvement has been at the heart of Virginia Tech's sustainability movement. Since its inception in 2009, students have taken part in the development of the Climate Action Commitment over the years.

Earth Week, held annually in April, provides opportunities for students to take part in tree plantings, educational trail walks, and more. The Office of Sustainability offers numerous opportunities for Hokie engagement through programs such as internships, green graduates of Virginia Tech, and Game Day Green Team. Students also can engage in sustainability initiatives through participation in student organizations, sustainability-focused coursework and research, and university internships.

“I’m constantly impressed by the quality of proposals we receive from students and how many of them include the triple bottom line principles of social, environmental, and economic sustainability. We are proud of the fact that the program has been incorporated in several courses as students really benefit from the mentorship of professors as well as our professional staff,” said Nathan King, sustainability program manager.

Continuing to increase opportunities for experiential learning and student engagement in sustainability at Virginia Tech are key themes in the tenets of the 2020 Climate Action Commitment.

Written by Emily Vollmer

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