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History of Sustainability at VWC

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While the President's Environmental Issues Council (PEIC) wasn't officially created until the summer of 2005, there have been a variety of campus initiatives to promote conservation and environmental stewardship throught the College's history. Below is a chronology of activities related to environmental issues and actions.

1970s

April 22, 1970: Virginia Wesleyan observes the first National Earth Day by showing films about pollution and inviting Norfolk and Virginia Beach City Council members for a discussion about pollution.

January 1977: January term course offered: "Focus on Garbage: Can Solid Waste Feasibly be Recycled or Recovered as an Energy Source?" One outcome was a recycling program on campus with students monitoring recycling containers in the dorms and at the public drop-off. The program lasted until students graduated.

1980s

1985: The Student Environmental Awareness League (S.E.A.L.) is established to raise consciousness of current issues in the environment.

1990s

May 21, 1990: Virginia Wesleyan's campus is designated as a bird sanctuary through a City of Virginia Beach ordinance.

Spring 1992: Students, faculty and staff members vigorously protest the destruction of part of the old-growth beech forest during a new construction project. The protest, based on environmental concerns, leads to modification of the location of a future project and calls attention to the fact that the campus contains an historic stand of trees.

June 19-21, 1992: The Virginia Beach public schools gifted program brings 100 high school students from across the state to a Student Congress on the Environment at Virginia Wesleyan.

Fall 1992: In a second attempt at campus-wide recycling program, an MBE 301 class distributes flyers listing Virginia Beach recycling locations and works with a campus committee to establish a campus-wide recycling program beginning with the spring semester.

April 10, 1992: The Virginia Department of Natural Science's Division of Natural Heritage recognizes the old growth American Beech forest at Virginia Wesleyan as a natural heritage resource.

Fall 1995: An ice storage system is built in which ice is created at night. In conjunction with night set-backs, this means lower electrical usage at night while allowing a chiller to be shut down during the day, reducing the electrical generation facilities needed due to reducing peak demand.

2000s

2001 | 2002 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007

2001: Virginia Wesleyan receives an Award of Merit from the Virginia Beach Council of Garden Clubs and the Virginia Beach Beautification Commission.

January 2002: Arising from a one-credit course taught by an interested faculty member, beehives are installed on campus by the newly formed Wesleyan Beekeepers Association. At a time when bees are in jeopardy, Virginia Wesleyan's beekeepers continue to learn about bees and care for the hives on campus.

Spring 2004: S.E.A.L. installs 10 bat boxes on campus. Virginia Wesleyan's campus is an ideal roosting ground for the bats with its many tree hollows and holes. The boxes create safety from bats' predators, and bats will provide opportunities for biology and ecology students to better understand the species.

Fall 2005 S.E.A.L. installs 10 Bluebird boxes, providing additional nesting sites for cavity-nesting birds, near the Wilson Arboretum, cross country trail and by Lake Taylor.

Fall 2005: The Marlin Wheels program allows for environmentally-friendly bicycle travel on campus. The program began for the first time in 2003 and was re-instated in 2005.

2005: Platinum Green Laboratory Science Building Plans Developed. The creation of a LEED-certified platinum level green laboratory science building and leading programs in environmental science and environmental studies can best be launched on a "green" campus. While the $17.3 million green science building is in the planning phases, many elements of the green campus are in the implementation phase.

Spring 2005: Marlin Express Established. The Marlin Express is a free transportation service to all Virginia Wesleyan students. The Express gives students a reliable mode of group transportation the Virginia Beach Town Center and Downtown Norfolk.

Spring 2005: College Receives Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Virginia Wesleyan received a $10,000 P3 grant from the EPA in 2005 to study the optimal design of a green or vegetative roof. The goals of phase I were: to assess the benefits of installing green roofs on our campus buildings, to optimize the design of green roofs in our region, and to recommend a roof design to the College for implementation on older buildings scheduled for roof replacement and for the new science building.

April 2005: College partners with Virginia Aquarium to build Research Vessel. The 42-foot research and education vessel will be used by a variety of faculty and students in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Team. At least seven Wesleyan classes will use the research vessel for field trips including oceanography, marine biology, ecology, environmental chemistry, and environmental geology. The vessel will enhance research efforts, contributing to our knowledge of the ocean environment and enabling students to be part of solving real problems.

May 2005: The College hosts a day-long workshop entitled, "The Greening of Virginia Wesleyan" on May 31, 2005 on campus. The session highlighted five nationally respected experts who spoke on topics ranging from "Promoting Sustainable Planning at a Small Liberal Arts College" to "Sustaining the Euphoria After a Green Building" to "Establishing a Distinguished Environmental Studies Program." In addition to nationally recognized experts, more than 25 faculty and staff from the College participated in the brainstorming and planning meeting.

June 2005: The green initiative was introduced to the College's Strategic Planning Committee during the week of June 20, 2005. President Greer and the College's Administrative Council directed the group to incorporate the green initiative into their planning and to provide necessary feedback and participation.

July 2005: Environmental Audit – Bruce Vaughan, Wesleyan's vice president of operations, initiated an Environmental Audit in July 2005. This study will provide an inventory of the College's existing green program and provide a benchmark for future comparisons.

July 2005: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries – Virginia Wesleyan College's President, Billy Greer, was appointed by Governor Mark Warner to serve on the Board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The board is charged with managing Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation; and to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing.

August 2005: President's Environmental Issues Council Established – President Greer appointed the President's Environmental Issues Council (PEIC) to support and facilitate efforts to enhance responsible management of College resources and to promote improvement of the quality of the environment at Virginia Wesleyan. Its mission is to promote environmental awareness and advocacy through orientation, education and coordination of programs and initiatives throughout campus and the larger community, as well as designing and maintaining guidelines for environmentally responsible practices from the individual to the community level. The PEIC includes 15 representatives from the faculty, staff and student body.   A faculty representative of the PEIC serves on the Board of Trustees Building and Grounds Committee.

August 2005: Recycling – The College launches campus-wide recycling program designed to make recycling convenient for all campus guests, students, faculty and staff members.

October 2005: First Hybrid Vehicle Purchased – The College purchased a Ford Escape hybrid vehicle for use by College faculty and staff.

November 2005: U.S. Green Building Council Conference – Virginia Wesleyan's vice president of operations attends the U.S. Green Building Council Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

November 2005: Smart and Sustainable Campus Conference – Chairman of the President's Environmental Issues Council (PEIC) attends Smart and Sustainable Campus Conference in College Park, Maryland. A summary is presented at the next PEIC meeting.

April 2006: Green Landscape Plan Developed – Landscape architect, Anne Stokes, presents a landscape plan for the campus. Ms. Stokes is committed to greening the campus and has included native plants that will require minimal watering in the plan.

April 2006: Energy Audit Completed – An energy audit was completed by an ARAMARK engineer. The report captured a history of energy usage and performance and will provide a program to track comparisons and projections. The engineer can analyze if equipment can be replaced with more efficient equipment and help us benchmark against like institutions. Virginia Wesleyan is a high electricity user (having many small buildings takes more energy that fewer large buildings.)

April 2006: Carbon Dioxide Emissions Worksheet Completed – A carbon dioxide emissions worksheet was completed with data from 2000-2002. The carbon dioxide per square foot was .007 in 2000 and .010 in 2002. The increase was because of the addition of the Batten Center that contains a pool and has long operating hours. Results will be compared to like facilities, tracked overtime and analyzed regarding the severity of the winters and summers in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

June 2006: Student Receives Fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency – Ivy Ozmon from Norfolk is awarded an Undergraduate Fellowship as part of the Greater Research Opportunities program at the Environmental Protection Agency.

July 2006: Hybrid Vehicle Leased - The College leases a Toyota Camry hybrid vehicle for use by College faculty and staff.

August 2006: President's Environmental Challenge Grant Announced - At his State of the College Address, President Billy Greer announces a $2,500 grant for an innovative green initiative submitted by any member of the Virginia Wesleyan Community. The $2,500 grant includes a $500 prize for the winning applicant and $2,000 toward implementing the proposed "green" concept at Virginia Wesleyan. The President's Environmental Issue Council will oversee this challenge grant.

August 2006: Community Council Meeting Discusses Green Initiatives - The chair of the President's Environmental Issues Council (PEIC) and the vice president of operations speak at a Community Council Meeting to discuss green initiatives underway on campus.

Summer 2006: Installation of Green Roof on Smithdeal Hall – Virginia Wesleyan receives a $50,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation in May 2006 for the installation of a $111,000, 5,066 square foot green roof on Smithdeal Hall, an existing residence hall on campus. This green roof installation implemented the findings learned in the research from the EPA grant and provide a full-scale green roof for faculty, students and staff to continue research.

September 2006: Representatives Attend "Greening Virginia Colleges Conference" – One student representative and the vice president of operations attend the "Greening Virginia Colleges Conference" at James Madison University.

September 2006: Green Purchasing Procedures Developed - Procedures purchasing only include low VOC or no-VOC paints, caulks and glues; materials and manufacturers within 500 miles of Norfolk when possible; recycled or recyclable materials where possible; renewable resources where possible; and Energy Star appliances.

September 2006: Membership in U.S. Green Building Council – Virginia Wesleyan becomes a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. USGBC resources are available to faculty and staff members through its website.

2007: Further Incorporation of the Environment in Academic Programming

  • Faculty added an environmental literacy requirement to the liberal arts management major.
  • English department hired Josh Weinstein, whose specialty is Environmental Literature.
  • Six of 28 First-Year Seminar groups planned for fall 2007 will focus wholly on environmental issues such as climate change, conservation biology, and the Chesapeake Bay.
  • All entering freshmen assigned to read The Last Refuge: Patriotism, Politics and the Environment in the Age of Terror by Dr. David Orr.
  • Biology 250 course designed to travel to Belize and study coral reefs and tropical forests.

March 2007: Research Agreement Signed with State Senator Frank W. Wagner – The College enters an agreement to conduct the "Best Urban Management Practice" Scientific Study with Virginia Beach State Senator Frank W. Wagner.

April 2007: American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment – President Greer signs the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment to sharply reduce and eventually eliminate the College's CO2 emissions.

April 2007: First President's Environmental Challenge Grant Awarded – President Billy Greer and the President's Environmental Issues Council unanimously select Mr. Phil Guilfoyle, an art professor, as the first recipient of the Environmental Challenge Grant for his proposal to work with his students to build a solar thermal heat exchanger to heat the ceramics lab using solar power. The committee was especially impressed by the creativity of this project and the ways that it sought to improve energy efficiency, save money, involve students and link environmental ideas across the liberal arts. Thirteen proposals were submitted to the PEIC by Virginia Wesleyan students, faculty and staff members.

April 2007: PEIC and Marlins Recycle Logos Created – Logos for the President's Environmental Issues Council and the campus recycling program are created for use in publicizing the College's recycle efforts. The logos feature a Marlin in the traditional recycle logo and the tagline "Marlins Go Green."

May 2007: College hosts Hampton Roads Green Building Council Meeting – Approximately 60 members of the Hampton Roads Green Building Council held a monthly meeting at Virginia Wesleyan. Those in attendance heard presentations regarding the College's green roof installation and research. A tour of the green roof followed the meeting.

May 2007: Third Hybrid Vehicle Purchased – The College purchased a Toyota Highlander hybrid vehicle for use by the College President.

May 12,2007: R. James Woolsey, Jr. Speaks at Commencement – Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey speaks at Virginia Wesleyan's 38th annual commencement ceremony. He remarks focused on the importance of lessening our dependence on foreign oil and moving toward renewable power sources.

2006-07 Academic Year: Environmental Research Projects – Fifteen undergraduate research projects focused on environmental issues such as tropical biodiversity, water quality, the Chesapeake Bay, and stormwater management. (10 during 2006/2007 and 5 during the summer of 2007)

Spring and Summer 2007: Pursuing LEED EB for Clarke Hall – Through assistance from ARAMARK, Virginia Wesleyan is seeking LEED certification for an existing building, Clarke Hall. The monitoring process began in March and the filing is planned for the summer. Virginia Wesleyan would be first LEED-Existing Building (EB) at a college or business in Virginia. Godwin Hall could also be submitted for LEED EB in the future.

Summer 2007: Virginia Wesleyan and Virginia Beach Partner to Receive DCR Grant – The College partners with Virginia Beach to submit a joint application to the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Water Quality Improvement Fund. The College's portion supports conversion of a dry BMP to a wet BMP.

June 2007: President's Environmental Issues Council Web site launched – In conjunction with New Students Orientation, the PEIC Web site is launched, highlighting the work of the PEIC, campus recycling efforts and other green information. Recycled scrap paper pads are distributed to all incoming freshmen at Orientation to promote the Web site.

2007: Village IV Construction - Construction of Village IV townhouses includes many green practices such as low VOC adhesives, low flow plumbing, energy efficient windows, minimal land disturbance, and runoff will be channeled to biofiltration swales. Planted pines (planted with the intent of being removed during future construction) cut down were used for pulp wood and mulch for campus landscaping.

July 2007: Grounds Department Receives Award of Merit – The Grounds Department received an award of merit from The Council of Garden Clubs of Virginia Beach, Inc. in cooperation with the Virginia Beach Beautification Commission. The Council and the Commission awards certificates of merit to local businesses in recognition of their efforts to maintain attractive litter-free premises. These awards of merit are based upon nominations submitted by garden club members throughout the city.

August 2007: President Billy Greer named to Foundation Board for Virginia Aquarium

August 30, 2007: Reusable Mugs – Reusable mugs are given to all incoming freshmen and faculty members at Fall Honor Convocation. Mugs are also on sale for other students, faculty and staff.

August 30, 2007: Dr. David Orr Speaks at Fall Honor Convocation – Dr. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College. He is best known for his pioneering work on environmental literacy in higher education and his recent work in ecological design. He raised funds for and spearheaded the effort to design and build a $7.2 million Environmental Studies Center at Oberlin College.

August 30, 2007: Dr. David Orr speaks to select faculty about green issues.

August 2007: Recycle bins are placed in student rooms in all residence halls and in most faculty and staff offices.

February 2008: Vice President Bruce Vaughan presents to the Campus Sustainability Series at William and Mary. This presentation was part of a series sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Reves Center for International Studies. Bruce joined speakers from Yale University, the United Nations and the Sustainable Endowments Institute in presenting to over a hundred students and faculty on sustainable practices and their practical applications.

Summer 2008: Library Renovations add Sustainable Practices - Many sustainable products and processes were added to the renovation to the Library. These included such items as a white reflective roof, waterless urinals, low water use fixtures, low/no VOC finishes and adhesives, recycling demolished products, reusing window walls and doors, incorporating high "R" value glass and upgrading to higher efficiency HVAC units.

October 2008-Hiring of Director of Sustainability and Energy-Kerry D. Brackett, ARAMARK Front Line Manager, is hired as Director of Sustainability and Energy for Virginia Wesleyan College. Brackett's specific duties include coordinating and developing sustainable programs, integrating greening efforts into campus culture, leading grant writing efforts in the area of campus sustainability, being a key resource person for student groups interested in the environment and serving on the President's Environmental Issues Council, acting as the President's project manager.

January 2009- Composting Project established- Mike Rigby, Assistant Director- Housekeeping & Grounds, initiates composting project by collecting vegetable waste from Dining Services and mixing it with yard trimmings from College grounds.

February 2009- AASHE Membership-Virginia Wesleyan College becomes a member of AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education). AASHE was founded in 2006 with a mission to promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education - from governance and operations to curriculum and outreach - through education, communication, research and professional development.

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