Student engagement

Students at Virginia Commonwealth University are actively involved in promoting sustainability on campus and are frequently catalysts for changes in university practices. To enable these students to champion sustainability on campus and in the community, VCU Sustainability provides a variety of opportunities for VCU students to get involved. Continue reading to learn more. 

Residence hall sustainability opportunities 

VCU Sustainability works with VCU Residential Life and Housing to provide residential students with opportunities to practice and implement sustainability in their residence halls. Continue reading for more information. 

Energy challenges

Energy Challenges for residential students have been held each semester or year since 2013. These challenges encourage students to take steps to reduce energy consumption in residence halls, where they have the most opportunity to effect significant change. Students track a building's energy consumption in real time via the Lucid Building Dashboard. These challenges are logged via the competition application and are viewable on the dashboard. As a result of student efforts, reductions in energy consumption have been noted most years. 

Eco Village

The VCU Eco Village community, established in fall 2018 and housed in VCU Rhoads Hall, provides incoming freshman students who have an interest in and commitment to sustainable living. Through the year, residents gain personal and professional skills relating to initiating and implementing sustainable projects. Residents will also be exposed to how VCU is working to become more sustainable through energy and water use reduction, the VCU Sustainability's learn-to-garden program, and community engagement/outreach. Lastly, residents will work closely with VCU Sustainability to identify and improve these programs to better the VCU student experience. 

For more information, visit the VCU Residential Life & Housing's website.

Eco-Rep Program

The VCU Hall Council Eco-Rep program facilitates peer-to-peer education and provides leadership opportunities to students through engagement and service. The Eco-Rep program is dedicated to enhancing sustainability in residence halls and contributing to positive behavior change on campus. Eco-reps actively engage fellow students around sustainability issues such as resource consumption, waste management and other environmental issues. This program serves as a platform for collaboration between students and administrators, provides a venue for students to express concerns, and provides leadership opportunities for students.

Find more information about becoming an Eco-rep or joining your Residence Hall Council, contact VCU Residential Life and Houseing at rha@vcu.edu.

Student internship opportunities

Since 2010, VCU Sustainability has provide internship opportunities for VCU students to help support the office's mission and initiatives. The internship program provides students with the opportunity to gain real world experience working in the environmental field and supporting the university's sustainability intiatives. Interns support a variety of efforts including event planning and coordination, data collection, outreach programming, digital and print marketing, and other initiatives. For more information about internship opportunities, email sustain@vcu.edu

Student projects

VCU Sustainability seeks to provide students with opportunities to foster sustainability initiatives at VCU while contributing to the experiential learning opportunities for students. To do so, VCU Sustainability is always looking for opportunities to partner with schools, departments, classes and/or student groups to implement new projects as well as work with students to implement student projects. 

Past student-initiated projects have focused on a wide range of sustainability topics such as xeriscaping at the Eugene P. and Lois E. Trani Center for Life Sciences, natural daylighting in Hibbs Hall, the Grace E. Harris Hall Rain Garden, and the VCU Community Garden. These projects have not only benefited sustainability on campus, but have also contributed to goals set in the City of Richmond Sustainability Plan.

Examples of past student projects ideas include: 

  • Water conservation
    • Create a cost benefit analysis to upgrade water fixtures in university buildings.
    • Establish an outreach campaign for VCU community members to improve water conservation on campus. 
  • Energy conservation
    • Evaluate new technologies and methodologies for reducing energy consumption and create a feasibility plan for building energy efficiency upgrades for VCU. The city has completed this and may be a resource for VCU’s analysis.
  • Solid waste management
    • Create a feasibility plan for VCU to divert pre- and post-consumer waste generated by VCU Dining.
    • Establish a recycling outreach campaign to creates a more thorough understanding of VCU’s recycling program.
  • Alternative transportation
    • Crreate a cost-benefit analysis to adding alternative fueled vehicles such as electric or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles to VCU fleets. Include proposed associated infrastructure (e.g.,electric charging stations and/or CNG stations) to analyze. The city has completed this and may be a resource for VCU’s analysis.
    • Establish a marketing plan that highlights the benefits of using alternative transportation.
  • Food access and security
    • Create a marketing campaign to promote local and sustainable food options available within Richmond to the VCU community.
    • Establish a garden in a vacant, city-owned parcel through the Richmond Grows Gardens program.