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Our Story

University of Richmond is cultivating educational initiatives, commitments, milestones, programs, and facilities that prioritize stewardship of people and the environment, and prepare our students to address global challenges in a rapidly changing world.

In 2003, 2007, and 2009 the University signed the Talloires Declaration, the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and the Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education respectively. You can read more about each of these here. Those commitments led to the creation of the Environmental Awareness Group, the establishment of a Sustainability Working Group, the creation of an advisory board to the President, the formation of the University Sustainability website, and the hiring of a Sustainability Coordinator, and later a Director of Sustainability.

In 2009 University of Richmond was recognized as a “Campus Sustainability Leader” by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. Since then the University has committed to creating institutional structures to support and encourage civic engagement, social responsibility, diversity, and community partnerships in its academics, practices, and policies.

As our University community's commitment to sustainability has grown, we have seen richer sustainability education and greater discussion between students, faculty, and staff about campus sustainability and environmental issues. Supporting societal aspects of sustainability and emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to curricula has enriched the campus's understanding of sustainability, while growth in academics and research has expanded opportunities for involvement in, and commitment to, sustainability.

Introduction to Sustainability

The Office for Sustainability has created a two-page Introduction to Sustainability on campus to provide a quick overview of our goals, student opportunities, staff resources, and faculty development initiatives. Look over it here, and feel free to distribute it to other students, faculty, or staff in classes or clubs. 

Achievements & Recognition

In February 2016 University of Richmond earned a silver STARS rating. The The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and
universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability that was developed by AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. 

AASHE also recognized University of Richmond as a top University for Diversity and Affordability in 2016. You can read more about this distinction here

University of Richmond is recognized as a Green School by the Princeton Review

The Sierra Club also ranked University of Richmond among the top 100 Cool Schools in the country. 

Milestones

Though the Office for Sustainability did not come into existence until 2009, there is a well-established legacy of environmental and sustainability-related leadership on campus. The following is a select list of important events 

1985

Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Center for Environmental Studies established

1991

Recycling program begins

1992

Environmental Studies Program created; Class of 1992 Environmental Awareness Endowment established

2003

Former President Cooper signs Talloires Declaration; Provost establishes Environmental Awareness Group (EAG)

2005

Earth Lodge (formerly Outdoor House) Living Learning Community created; Dual degree programs with Duke initiated

2007

President Ayers signs Presidents’ Climate Commitment; Commitment to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver for new construction (part of ACUPCC); RENEW (which became GreenUR) founded

2008

RENEW began partnership with UR Sierra Club chapter; Department of Geography and the Environment founded

2009

Office for Sustainability established; Energy-use dashboard installed in dorms; UR became the 100th school to sign the Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education; RENEW becomes GreenUR; Inaugural greenhouse gas inventory conducted

2010

Sustainability Working Group (SWG) founded; Community Garden started; URot campus composting project established | AASHE Student Diary; Climate Action Plan Completed

2011

Green Office Program started; USGBC chapter started; University stopped burning coal

2012

River City Project created; Dual degree program with VCU started; solar pilot on University Forest Apartments

2013

Awarded Silver rating on Sustainability, Tracking, and Assessment Rating System (STARS) 

2014

Parking Lot Project created as part of Tucker Boatwright Festival; Environmental Justice Think Tank created

2015

204 kW solar array installed on roof of Weinstein Recreation & Wellness Center; University of Richmond Sustainability Advocates founded; Sustainability Internship Program established; Faculty Learning Community on Climate Change Education

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