Getting Results

University ranks high on two sustainability lists

In 2008, Virginia Commonwealth University joined the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to neutralize greenhouse gases. Since then, VCU has worked to reduce emissions in all areas of campus life — from educational programs and facilities to dining and residential life — as part of its plan to become climate-neutral by 2050.

This year, VCU submitted its information for the first time to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's self-reporting tracking and rating system. The Sustainability, Tracking Assessment & Rating System, or STARS, provides a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education.

With a score of 50.46 points — based on education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement — VCU attained the Silver certification.

"In just four years of engagement, VCU has made substantial progress in regards to sustainability," VCU President Michael Rao wrote to the STARS Steering Committee. "VCU proactively looks to engage our students in sustainability issues, and the results have been phenomenal."

The AASHE uses the STARS data in its Campus Sustainability Data Collector, which in turn provides information to Sierra magazine's annual listing of America's Greenest Colleges. In another first this year, VCU responded to the Sierra magazine survey, placing 21st out of 96 schools.

"Receiving the Sierra Magazine ranking re-affirms VCU's commitment to sustainability as articulated in the Quest for Distinction," said VCU Sustainability Director Jacek Ghosh. "VCU had high marks in the ‘innovation,’ ‘waste,’ ‘co-curricular,’ ‘planning’ and ‘food’ categories, which positively contributed to VCU's score."

For a list of recent VCU Sustainability awards, visit