Two years ago, Virginia Tech updated its Climate Action Commitment to ensure that,  as the university continues to be a leader in seeking a sustainable society, it implements the most rigorous climate and sustainability standards.

Virginia Tech’s original Climate Action Commitment was approved by the Board of Visitors in 2009 and went through a revision process in 2013. For a decade, these commitments served as the university’s guiding framework around sustainability and energy efficiency in campus operations, facilities, and education.

The renewed commitment, approved by the Board of Visitors in March 2021, set the university on a path to carbon neutrality by 2030. This primary goal of carbon neutrality is accompanied by 14 complimentary commitment goals, including:

  • Becoming a zero-waste campus by 2030
  • Ensuring the university’s agricultural, forestry, and land use operations are carbon-neutral by 2030
  • Achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030
  • Ensuring the operations of new buildings initiated by 2030 are carbon-neutral

“We are excited to be nearing the second anniversary of our updated Climate Action Commitment,” said Nathan King, campus sustainability manager. “It is a much more robust commitment that builds off of the foundation of the original by wrapping in a decade worth of new climate research and scientific innovation.”

The Climate Action Commitment’s 15 goals and implementation strategy engage many parts of the university, from academic to operations stakeholders. The commitment’s impact is felt by all members of the university community.

“We’ve been able to engage and educate more faculty, staff, and students around the institution than ever before,” said King. “The changes to our governance structure and the Climate Action, Sustainability, and Energy Committee speak to that fact as we have broader participation from the campus and community. The committee has formed numerous subcommittees surrounding the 15 goals to help with implementation and monitoring of progress.”

The Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities’ climate action, sustainability, and energy team meets biweekly to discuss and work on implementation of the Climate Action Commitment’s goals pertaining to the Blacksburg campus’ operations. The team is working closely with zero-waste consultants to help achieve a zero-waste campus by 2030. Additional efforts underway by the division include the installation of solar arrays on five Blacksburg campus buildings in partnership with alumni-founded Sun Tribe and the Virginia Department of Energy as well as a large-scale LED lighting conversion across Blacksburg campus buildings.

As part of the Climate Action Living Laboratory initiative highlighted in the commitment, the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities has partnered with roughly 100 faculty members and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students across the university to develop research and sustainability projects that utilize the Blacksburg campus as a place for experiential learning.

To further support goals highlighted in the Climate Action Commitment, the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities has partnered with several faculty members across the university — including representatives from the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Resources and Environment — to submit federal grant proposals for various infrastructure-related projects including grid resiliency, battery storage, and solar.

Engage in the Climate Action Commitment

As part of Earth Week celebrations, the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities’ Office of Sustainability will be hosting series of presentations and question and answer sessions on the Climate Action Commitment on Wednesday, April 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Squires Student Center Room Brush Mountain B. More information is available on the Office of Sustainability’s Earth Week website.

Written by Trisha Porter

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