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History of Sustainability at VWC

altWhile 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.


First National Earth Day – April 16, 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 Term Course Focuses on Garbage – January 1977
January Term course offered around the topic, “Focus on Garbage: Can Solid Waste Feasibly be Recycled or Recovered as an Energy Source?” One outcome of the course was a recycling program on campus with students monitoring recycling containers in the dorms and at the public drop-off. The program lasted until the organizing students graduated.


Student Environmental Awareness League – 1985
The Student Environmental Awareness League (S.E.A.L.) attempts to raise consciousness of current issues in the environment. The organization feels that through knowledge of environmental issues, each person will become conscious of their own actions and hopefully will make a positive change.


Virginia Wesleyan’s campus is designated as a bird sanctuary through a City of Virginia Beach ordinance – May 21, 1990

Recycling – Fall 1992
A Management, Business and Economics Class distributes flyers listing Virginia Beach recycling locations and worked with a campus committee to establish a campus-wide recycling program.

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 – April 10, 1992

Installation of Ice Storage System – Fall 1995
An ice storage system, where ice is created at night, has been built. In conjunction with night set-backs, this means lower electrical usage at night while it also allows a chiller to be shut down during the day, reducing the electrical generation facilities needed due to reducing peak demand.


Earth and Environmental Studies Major Created – April 2000

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

Beehives Installed on Campus – 2001
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, VWC beekeepers continue to learn about bees and care for the hives on campus.

Installation of Bat Boxes on Campus – Spring 2004
S.E.A.L. installs ten 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.  

Installation of Bluebird Boxes on Campus – Fall 2005
S.E.A.L. installs ten Bluebird boxes, providing additional nesting sites for cavity-nesting birds, near the Wilson Arboretum, cross country trail and by Lake Taylor. 

Marlin Wheels – 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.

Platinum Green Laboratory Science Building Plans Begun - 2005
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. 

Marlin Express Established – Spring 2005
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. 

College Receives Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Spring 2005
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 (1) to assess the benefits of installing green roofs on our campus buildings, (2) to optimize the design of green roofs in our region, and (3) to recommend a roof design to the College for implementation on older buildings scheduled for roof replacement and for the new science building. 

College partners with Virginia Aquarium For Research Vessel – April 2005
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.

The Greening of Virginia Wesleyan – May 2005
The College hosted 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. 

Strategic Planning - 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.

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

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries – July 2005
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.

President’s Environmental Issues Council Created – August 2005
In August 2005, 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.

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

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

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

Smart and Sustainable Campus Conference – November 2005
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.

Green Landscape Plan Developed – April 2006
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.

Energy Audit Completed – April 2006
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.)

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Worksheet Completed – April 2006
A carbon dioxide emissions worksheet was completed.  Data was collected for 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.

Student Receives Fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency – June 2006
Ivy Ozmon, a senior from Norfolk, is awarded an Undergraduate Fellowship as part of the Greater Research Opportunities program at the Environmental Protection Agency.  In the initial announcement, the EPA indicated that approximately 15 awards would be made nationwide.  The Undergraduate Fellowship will provide $10,000 a year for tuition and academic fees for Ivy’s junior and senior years and $2,500 for expenses such as books, supplies and equipment.  She will also receive $4,500 per year as a stipend.  In addition, the EPA will provide a paid internship at one of their facilities.  To assist with the internship, Ivy will receive a $7,500 internship allowance to cover travel and living expenses.  Ivy will participate in the internship next summer—between her junior and senior years.

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

President’s Environmental Challenge Grant Announced – August 2006
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.

Community Council Meeting Discusses Green Initiatives - August 2006
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.

Installation of Green Roof on Smithdeal Hall – Summer 2006
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.

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

Green Purchasing Procedures Developed – September 2006
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.

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

2007 Further Incorporation of the Environment in Academic Programming

  • Faculty added an environmental literacy to the liberal arts management major.
  • English faculty 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 freshman 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.

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

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

President’s Environmental Challenge Grant Created – April 2007
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.

PEIC and Marlins Recycle Logos Created – April 2007
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.”

Host Hampton Roads Green Building Council Meeting – May 2007
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.

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

R. James Woolsey, Jr. Speaks at Commencement – May 2007
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.

Virginia Wesleyan and Virginia Beach Partner to Receive DCR Grant –Summer 2007
The College partnered 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.

Environmental Research Projects – 2006-07 Academic Year
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)

Pursuing LEED EB for Clarke Hall – Spring and Summer 2007
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.

President’s Environmental Issues Council Web site launched – June 2007
In conjunction with 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.

Village IV Construction - 2007
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.

Grounds Department Receives Award of Merit – July 2007
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.

President named to Foundation Board for Virginia Aquarium – August 2007

Reusable Mugs – August 2007
Reusable mugs given to all incoming freshmen during Orientation Scene II.  Mugs are also on sale for other students, faculty and staff.

Dr. David Orr Speaks at Fall Honor Convocation – August 2007
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.

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 – August 2007

Energy Audit and Recommendations Completed by VWC Student, Vickie Brynildsen – Summer 2008
Audit studied College use of energy and made recommendation for savings.

Bruce Vaughan, Vice President for Operations, attends the Sustainability Summit presented at Virginia Commonwealth University – November 2007

Bruce Vaughan, Vice President for Operations, participates in a speaker series entitled “Campus Sustainability” at the College of William and Mary – February 2008
Mr. Vaughan joined other speakers from the United Nations and Yale University.

VWC Representatives Meet with Norfolk Southern Sustainability Officer – February 2008
Bruce Vaughan, Vice President for Operations, and other College officials met with Blair Wimbush, Norfolk Southern’s Vice President for Real Estate and Corporate Sustainability Officer.  Parties shared current green initiatives and discussed potential partnerships.

RecycleMania – Spring 2008
Virginia Wesleyan College's commitment to going green had the campus community participate in a 10-week event called RecycleMania, a national competition between colleges and universities to promote recycling and reduce overall waste.

Dorm Recycling Competition – March 2008
A competition between the College’s Village’s to see who can recycle the most.  Housekeeping staff assisted in the assessment.

Clean Up Lake Taylor – March 2008
Members of the Student Environmental Awareness League (SEAL) sponsored a clean up of litter on the shore line and in the water at Lake Taylor which borders the College’s campus.

Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) Awards Capital Projects Grant
The College received a $7,750 grant from the VFIC for the replacement of 7 windows at Gum Hall.  The building’s original windows will be replaced with new double-paned, insulated, casement style windows.

Stephen L. Johnson Speaks at Commencement – May 2008
Mr. Johnson the then current EPA Administrator and had been with the EPA for 25 years.  He was a scientist rather than a political appointee. Mr. Johnson assumed the position as administrator with the stated goal of “promoting and maintaining the utilization of sound science while using collaborative, innovative approaches to solving environmental problems.”  Mr. Johnson has a BA in Biology from Taylor University in Indiana, a MS in Pathology from George Washington University, and an honorary doctorate of science from Taylor University.

BMP Conversion Completed – Summer 2008
The College partnered with Virginia Beach to secure a Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Water Quality Improvement Fund grant.  The College’s portion supported conversion of a dry BMP to a wet BMP.

Director of Campus Sustainability and Energy Hired – October 2008
Kerry Bracket was hired full-time to serve as the Director of Campus Sustainability and Energy.

Sustainability Officers Added – Fall 2008
All student organizations that are part of the Wesleyan Activities Council appointed a Sustainability Officer to the organization’s leadership.  The Officer monitors recycling at organization events and identify other ways the group can be more sustainable.

Campus Sustainability Day – October 22, 2008
An inaugural Campus Sustainability Day was held to welcome the new Director of Campus Sustainability and Energy.

Weekly Marlins Go Green Tips – Beginning Fall 2008
Sustainability tips are emailed weekly to faculty, staff and students.

PEIC Task Forces Formed to Focus on Presidents’ Climate Commitment – November 2008
Three task forces were formed to make recommendations for becoming carbon neutral for the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  The task forces focus on Housing and Mechanical, Utilities, and Purchasing.

Energy Baseline Established – December 2008
Director of Campus Sustainability and Energy completed baseline analysis of energy usage for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

PEIC Utilities Task Force Conference Call – December 17, 2008
Members of the PEIC Utilities Task Force held a conference call with Emil Avram, Director Business Development, Dominion Resources, Generation and Renewables, and other alternative energy representatives from Dominion.  Discussions focused on the possibility

Recycling Banners – January 2009
Large-scale banners are added to Convocation Center to promote recycling and the location of recycling receptacles.

PEIC Utilities Task Force – February 2009
Members of the PEIC Utilities Task Force met with Paul McConvey, Manager – Key Accounts, Dominion, to discuss energy targets for the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Green Careers Center Panel Discussion – February 19, 2009
Virginia Wesleyan hosted a “Clean Energy and Green Jobs” Town Hall meeting on February 19, 2009.  Participants included local environmental leaders, energy company representatives and local elected officials.

PEIC Utilities Task Force Met with SolSage Energy – February 20, 2009
Members of the PEIC Utilities Task Force met with representatives from SolSage Energy.  The company proposes to install, own and operate a 1MW solar energy system onsite at Virginia Wesleyan College and sell the resulting solar energy to Virginia Wesleyan at a rate below what the College is paying today.

College joins Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education – February 2009

Students harvest and plant oysters during Wesleyan's alternative Spring Break Program, IMAGINE – March 2009
Students harvested oysters in the Sarah's Creek in Gloucester, Va and then planted the mollusks into artificial reefs in the Lynnhaven River.  Wesleyan students volunteered their time for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) oyster restoration project.

Wesleyan Competes in RecycleMania – March 2009
Virginia Wesleyan College's commitment to going green has the campus community participating in a 10-week event called RecycleMania, a national competition between colleges and universities to promote recycling and reduce overall waste.  In preliminary results, the College finished 20th of 202 participating Colleges and Universities in total waste minimization.

Student Organization Green Checklist – March 2009
A checklist was distributed at a Club Presidents’ meeting.  The checklist provided a variety of ways student organizations may be more green.

Green Games – March 2009
Games with prizes held in student center to increase student awareness on sustainability.

Greenest Marlin and Most Sustainable Group Awards Established – Spring 2009

TFC Recycling President Speaks to PEIC – April 8, 2009
President Michael Benditto speaks to PEIC about ways to increase recycling on campus and answer questions.  Meeting was followed by a tour, which prompted recommendations from Benditto.

Sustainability Fair Hosted - April 22, 2009
Held in honor of Earth Day, College departments will showcase the work for environment.  For example, Wesleyan beekeepers will have a demonstration of their beekeeping and honey making.  A cardboard boat contest was held at the pool.

Electronic Audit Implemented – May 2009
Vice President of Finance reaches agreement with auditors to provide financial information for audit electronically rather than via printouts.  This will save 3 boxes of copy paper.

Food Service Implements Composting – May 2009
Sodexho Food Service has implemented a composting initiative with scraps and waste from the salad bar.  Waste is collected in a designated container in the kitchen and picked up by College Grounds Maintenance staff.  The staff is using the food material in a composting pile near the Physical Plant Building.

Built in Furniture Recycled – June 2009
As part of a renovation in Gum Hall (a campus residence hall), construction crews are removing outdated built in furniture.  The wood is being recycled to construct new fan coil covers and soffits in the same rooms.  In addition to being recycled, the wood is of higher quality than what was scheduled for this use.

Blocker Hall Renovated – 2010 – 2011
Renovations of Blocker Hall increased the indoor air quality, utilized efficient lighting, no or low VOC paints and adhesives, locally produced materials and minimal cleaner exhaust from the fume hoods.  These areas of renovation will promote research in the environmental and earth sciences.

Trees Added - June 2011
Native Tulip Poplars were added to the walkway from the Boyd Center to Village IV.  These trees were donated by members of the campus and greater community.  Each tree will work to reduce our carbon footprint.

Another Hybrid Vehicle in Fleet – July 2011
We removed an old van and replaced it with a Hybrid SUV which uses half the fossil fuel of its predecessor.

Recyclemania 2011 and 2012
We successfully participated in Recyclemania and through it provided education and experiences for our students, faculty and staff.

Berm at Rose Hall – 2012
We replaced faltering ivy at Rose Hall with a series of native flowers and shrubs as designed by our landscape architect.

BMP at Wesleyan Drive - 2012
A BMP was built at Wesleyan Drive to capture the runoff caused by the new pavement.  We negotiated a fountain to aerate the pond and provide greater living conditions for the native plantings we specified for the banks.

Energy Retrofit – Summer 2012
Over a million dollars was invested in new lighting, ice storage units, controls, motors, VFDs (variable frequency drives) and retro-commissioning buildings.  These changes are anticipated to save the College over ten percent of its total energy use.  The savings will pay for the upgrades, making the College more sustainable.

Windows in Rose, Kellam and Pruden - 2012
We replaced the windows in two residence halls and one administrative building.  These new windows seal tighter and provide greater thermal protection than their forty year old predecessors.  These windows will save energy by maintaining the interior spaces at a consistent temperature.

Alternative Spring Break - 2012
As part of the Imagine Alternative Spring Break with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, students—all women— constructed reef balls, restored dune crossings, installed and prepared rain gardens and improved living shorelines around the Hampton Roads area during the week of March 19-23.

Dr. Bartol serves the Chesapeake Bay Foundation - 2012
Marine Biology Professor Dr. Soraya Bartol was chosen to serve on the Planning Board of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Lesner Bridge project.  This is a natural area of the Lynnhaven River adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay that is being protected by the CBF and used for education and species habitat.

Cherry trees added in 2013 and 2014
An initiative begun by President Greer, the planting now totals 29, donated.  These add beauty while helping to mitigate CO2.

Arboretum - 1994 to present
Every year when a professor retires or dies, a tree is planted in their name.  This year, five trees will be planted.  The arboretum is full, which is the impetus to begin making the entire campus an arboretum of “retirement” trees.  Our landscape architect is designing mini-forests of like trees in areas around the campus.

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