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Who We Are

The Vanderbilt University Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) is a joint effort between Plant Operations and Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety. SEMO’s mission is to initiate, promote, coordinate, evaluate and encourage environmental management and sustainability initiatives that improve Vanderbilt’s impact on the community and environment.

In the first five years of SEMO’s existence (2008-2013), Vanderbilt achieved the following significant sustainability improvements:

  • Received the 2013 Non-Profit Recycler of the Year award from the Tennessee Recycling Coalition;
  • Received the 2013 Recycling Video of the Year from the Tennessee Recycling Coalition for “Recycling Makes Sense!” video;
  • One of only 21 universities nationwide named to the 2013 Princeton Review Green College Honor Roll and is included in the 2013 “Guide to 322 Green Colleges”;
  • Won the 2009 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Green Building, the 2008 Award for Environmental Education, and the 2006 Award for Excellence in Pollution Prevention;
  • Received an “A” rating in environmental and social intent and transparency from the Roberts Environmental Center;
  • Allotted $29 million over three years to convert the VU power plant to all natural gas fuel, eliminating coal use on campus by 2015;
  • Certified 14 projects under the environmental requirements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program;
  • Reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions by 13.8% from 2008 and by over 25% per square foot, staff and student;
  • Diverted 25% of waste from landfills;
  • Increased recycling by 20% from 2012 to 2013 to 6 million pounds of cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminum and scrap metal, doubling the amount recycled in 2011;
  • Saw Vanderbilt Printing Services achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody certification in 2012;
  • Converted 1,100 gallons of used cooking oil  to 850 gallons of biodiesel annually;
  • Composted 9,000 cubic feet of landscaping and leaf waste annually, which is reused as mulch;
  • Retrofitted 3,500 bathroom fixtures to conserve over 50 million gallons of water annually, reducing VU’s water consumption by 40%;
  • Involved over 300 members of the Vanderbilt community in the development of Vanderbilt’s Environmental Commitment Statement, released April 22, 2009; and
  • Organized 37 student volunteers each year to serve as Eco-Dore peer environmental educators for undergraduate residential students.