Student-proposed campus sustainability upgrades to be implemented
Electric vehicle charging stations, a monarch butterfly habitat in Hahn Horticulture Garden, and a compostable utensils pilot program are among 27 student-proposed sustainability projects heading toward implementation on the Blacksburg campus.
Through the Green RFP program, students are able to play a key role in fostering a more sustainable university for future generations of Hokies. At the start of each academic year, the Office of Sustainability seeks proposals from student groups for campus sustainability projects that support Virginia Tech’s Climate Action Commitment with a strong focus on energy conservation and efficiency.
When developing their proposed sustainability projects, students are encouraged to collaborate with subject matter experts employed at the university and consider its funding sources, long-term cost savings, and volunteer opportunities.
Proposals are reviewed by the Office of Sustainability and submitted to the university 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 $373,000 will go toward implementation of Green RFP projects submitted between 2019-21 in the coming academic year.
Other funded projects include:
- Riparian restoration planting.
- New energy-efficient lighting.
- New water fountains with water bottle refill stations.
- Energy-efficient upgrades to HVAC systems.
- Additional and improved bicycle racks in multiple campus locations.
- A new bicycle fix-it station at McComas Hall.
Since the Green RFP program’s inception in 2010, over $1.5 million has been allocated toward 110 eco-friendly projects on the Blacksburg campus.
“It has been exciting to witness so many student-submitted sustainability projects come to life on campus. Student engagement, climate justice, education, and infrastructure improvements are fundamental elements of both the Green RFP program and Virginia Tech’s overall Climate Action Commitment’s efforts. We’ll continue to draw upon students’ ideas, energy, and unwavering dedication to the environment and their fellow Hokies to make Virginia Tech a more sustainable place,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Dwayne Pinkney.
Student involvement has been supported in sustainability initiatives at Virginia Tech. Since its inception in 2009, students have taken part in the development of the university’s Climate Action Commitment over the years. Sustainability and Earth weeks - held annually in October and April, respectively - provide 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 such programs as internships, green graduates of Virginia Tech, and Game Day Green Team. Students can also engage in sustainability initiatives at the university through participation in student organizations, sustainability-focused coursework and research, and university internships.
“Besides hosting the Green RFP program again this fall, we are developing a student sustainability forum, sustainability training and badge program, and student sustainability conference in partnership with other Virginia universities,” said Nathan King, sustainability program manager.
“These are just some of the initial opportunities for students to learn about climate action and become change agents in their community. We have plans to develop more initiatives in the coming years, so stay tuned to our website and social media accounts for all the details.”
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.