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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Aug. 2, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.1

Virginia Tech
ER-2: Student Sustainability Outreach Campaign

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Angie De Soto
Campus Sustainability Planner
Facilities Services, Office of Energy and Sustainability
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Does the institution hold a campaign that meets the criteria for this credit?:

The name of the campaign(s):
1. Virginia Tech Eco-Olympics; 2. RecycleMania

A brief description of the campaign(s):

1. Virginia Tech Eco-Olympics:

Summary: The on campus Eco-Olympics program was crafted by the Student Government Association in collaboration with the Office of Energy and Sustainability and the Director of Residence Life. The first implementation of the program was during the month of April in 2010. The second year of the program was during the month of February 2011. The residence hall based competition is focused on one month where students competed to reduce their energy and water consumption as much as possible. A commitment has been made to continue this competition on an annual basis.

Competition Details: Because all of the residence halls on campus are different, the halls were placed into five separate groups to compete in an equitable fashion. A point system was developed that awarded different points for different activities with the emphasis on significant energy consumption reductions. Students could score points for their hall through energy reduction on a per capita basis and by attending approved sustainability related events. A winner was chosen in each of the five groups and, based on cumulative points, a Grand Champion was selected. Winners were recognized publicly with banners on campus and a recycled metal trophy that was placed in the winning hall for the following year.

2. RecycleMania:

Summary: RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. More than 550 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada participated in RecycleMania 2011, and this was the sixth consecutive year that Virginia Tech has participated.

Competition Details: Over a 10-week period, schools report recycling and trash weight data in pounds. Five targeted materials are reported and include: bottles and cans, corrugated cardboard, paper, food service organics (composting), and trash. The first two weeks of the competition is a “trial period” for schools to practice the process of gathering and submitting data, and these results are not scored. The final eight weeks represents the “actual competition” and these results are scored. Cumulative results are posted each week. Schools are ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclable per capita, the largest amount of total recyclable, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign(s):

1. Virginia Tech Eco-Olympics:

Measurement and Positive Impacts: Electricity meters were read on each residence hall on a weekly basis and kept track of in both a robust spreadsheet and a dynamic website. The website was created to make public consumption of the data easier, but was not utilized the second year due to data transfer issues. A reduction in energy consumption was seen in most residence halls, but varied significantly from week to week. Overall, there was a positive impact from the campaign in terms of energy reduction. Because this program is still in its infancy, the tracking system is still being tweaked to maximize the ability to measure impact. For event based points, attendance sign in sheets were kept at all approved events that were managed by student volunteers.

To view information and results for Year 1 of the Eco-Olympics, please see: http://www.sga.vt.edu/programs/53-virginia-tech-eco-olympics-events and http://www.facilities.vt.edu/sustainability/eco_awards.asp

To view information for Year 2 of the Eco-Olympics, please see: http://www.sga.vt.edu/news/62

2. RecycleMania:

Measurement and Positive Impacts: Actual weights for waste and recycling materials are provided by the Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority (MRSWA) in Christiansburg, Virginia. Actual weights for food composted material are provided by Poplar Manor Enterprises (PME) Compost, LLC. Our goals this year were to increase our total recyclable materials (including Food Service Organics) from last year by 10%, and to reduce our trash from last year by 5%. RecycleMania does not include Food Service Organics in their total recyclable figures as some schools don’t report that figure.

Virginia Tech’s results for the eight week RecycleMania 2011 competition:

1. Cumulative Recycling Rate was 19.71% (up from 18.62% in 2010). This figure does not include Food Service Organics (Composting).

2. Total Recyclables (Bottles & Cans, Cardboard, and Paper) was 287,660 pounds (up from 282,500 pounds in 2010). This is an increase of 1.83%.

3. Total Food Service Organics (Composting from Dining Services and the Inn at VT) was 159,660 pounds (up from 108,200 pounds in 2010). This is an increase of 47.56%.

4. Total trash was 1,172,110 pounds (down from 1,234,820 pounds in 2010). This is a reduction of 5.08%, which meets our goal of reducing our trash from last year by 5%.

5. Total Recyclables plus Food Service Organics was 447,320 pounds (up from 390,700 pounds in 2010). This figure is a better reflection of progress to reduce what we send to the landfill. Using the MRSWA basic recycling rate, we calculated a 27.62% increase in our total recyclable materials (Calculation: 447,320 divided by the sum of 447,320 + 1,172,110 which equals a 27.62% basic recycling rate). An increase of 27.62% was well over our goal of a 10% increase in total recyclable materials.

As a way of comparison, last year the university increased our total recyclables by 19,620 pounds (6.6%), and reduced our trash by 60,880 pounds (4.7%).

To view information and results from RecycleMania 2011, please see: http://www.facilities.vt.edu/sustainability/recycle_2011.asp and http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/02/020411-tcs-vtrecyclemania.html

To view information and results from RecycleMania 2010, please see: http://www.facilities.vt.edu/sustainability/recyclemania_2010.asp and http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2010/02/2010-84.html

The website URL for the campaign:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.