Story I wrote for the Commonwealth Times Regarding Green Initiative 

VCU to host third sustainability day

September 19, 2012, at 10:22 pm

Sam Isaacs
Contributing Writer

VCU will host its third annual Sustainability Day on Oct. 12, the Friday going into family weekend, at the Student Commons.

The event will highlight VCU’s push to replace services with greener alternatives, such as transportation services like BioRide RVA and Zipcar as well as eco-friendly food vendors.

“We will hopefully have a 100 percent sustainable menu, with all of the food coming from Virginia,” said VCU ‘s Sustainability Coordinator Jordan Starbuck.

A Segway tour will highlight some of the green projects around the Monroe Park Campus including the Shafer Dining Court solar panels and the Pollak Building’s Green Roof, a rooftop garden constructed in 2011 by students.

Each year, the event is focused around an environmental theme. This year, it’s all about energy.
“We will have the energy manager there, and folks to talk about the solar panels, food production and recycling,” said Jacek Ghosh, VCU’s director of Sustainability.

Ghosh also notes that this event is not something strictly run by VCU Sustainability, but something that different departments and groups, including student leadership groups, the Residential Life and Housing department and the Fashion Design department all contribute to.

“The idea is to get the students who are either doing something in their class or program to highlight what they are doing and what we’re doing at VCU and raise overall awareness, particularly (among) new students and families,” Starbuck said.

Sustainability falls into one of VCU’s strategic plan’s six guiding principles, making it a highly prioritized part of the school’s agenda. Ghosh believes students played a huge part in raising the school’s sustainability awareness.

“The student’s dedication to sustainability and involvement in projects and petitions are what brought the issue to the university’s attention ultimately making it one of the six guiding principles,” said Ghosh.

The school’s sustainability efforts have been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. STARS awarded VCU with a silver rating, the highest among universities in the state. The STARS rating offers university a unique grading system in which strengths and weaknesses are noted.

“Just because you win an award or good score does not automatically make you greener … STARS looks at education, research and greening all your operation,” Ghosh said. “Other report cards don’t pick up on all of that.
VCU received it’s highest rating in the Planning, Engagement and Education field.