The Virginia Tech Sustainability Plan was created in 2009 to address the ways in which the university plans to meet the goals outlined in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment. The university is committed to reaching a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020, improving energy efficiency where and whenever possible in campus buildings, to achieving a minimum LEED rating of silver for all new construction, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The Sustainability Plan was updated in 2014 and approved by the University Council in 2015.
STARS - The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System
Virginia Tech uses the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System (STARS) to track most of the elements that appeared in the original Sustainability Plan. Virginia Tech's most recent STARS Report is available.
STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. This tracking system considers five core areas when measuring a university’s sustainability standing: Education & Research (with subcategories of co-curricular education, curriculum, and research), Operations (buildings, climate, dining services, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste, and water), Planning Administration & Engagement (coordination and planning, diversity and affordability, human resources, investment, and public engagement), Innovation, and Supplemental Data.
The Energy and Sustainability Committee at Virginia Tech, along with the Office of Sustainability and a large group of sustainability stakeholders on campus, determined that the STARS program would be a suitable replacement for the Sustainability Plan, a document well over 200 pages, which would be too time- and labor-intensive to keep up-to-date in a meaningful way. The 2015 update to the Sustainability Plan outlines this transition, and includes additional points that are not yet covered by the STARS framework, but are important to Virginia Tech's sustainability mission.
Virginia Tech submitted its first STARS report in August 2011, receiving a Silver rating. The university has since received an additional Silver rating in March 2013 and most recently a Gold rating in October 2014.
Currently, 737 institutions have registered with the STARS Reporting Tool. Of those, only 229, including Virginia Tech, are Charter Participants.Virginia Tech is one of only 85 members ranking as Gold, which positions the university in the top 12 percent of sustainable institutions.