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Progress Report

FutureVU Progress FY2021 (July 2020 – June 2021)

FutureVU embodies the university’s core values and a holistic approach to campus planning. More than building projects, FutureVU considers core themes such as sustainability, transportation and mobility, accessibility and more.  FutureVU represents a high-level, holistic framework for the physical development of campus, while also contemplating core principles that align with our academic mission. While FutureVU implementation continues, this report offers a glimpse at Vanderbilt’s achievements in FY2021.

To view the FY2019 progress report, please visit the following page.

To view the FY2020 progress report, please visit the following page.




Energy efforts are core to FutureVU and the university’s long-term sustainability strategy to significantly impact its environmental footprint in part by powering its campus entirely through renewable energy. In order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the university must invest in on-site clean energy and consider investing in off-site renewable energy.

In the first-half of FY2021, with the city of Nashville, Tennessee announced a Green Invest partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Nashville Electric Service. The second Green Invest project will supply enough renewable energy to offset the remaining 30 percent of the university’s annual indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased electricity by fall 2023. This collaboration for both the university and the city of Nashville, will allow the region to take a bold step forward in expanding availability and access to renewable energy. The renewable energy for Vanderbilt and Nashville will come from a solar farm to be built in Tullahoma, Tennessee, by Nashville-based Silicon Ranch Corporation. This marks the university’s second solar project with TVA, NES and Silicon Ranch through TVA’s Green Invest program. Vanderbilt will be a 25-megawatt co-subscriber to the array of campus operations.

20 kWh in solar panels on campus as of FY2021


23,427 kWh energy saved annually from solar panels


4 total solar picnic tables on campus as of FY2021


Vanderbilt University announced a new collaboration with the nonprofit organization Climate Vault that allows the university to address the full extent of its carbon footprint now, achieving carbon neutrality decades ahead of its initial goal. The new initiative effectively removes carbon pollution permits from regulated carbon markets while simultaneously stimulating research into emerging carbon removal technologies.

In 2019, the university set a goal to power its campus entirely through renewable energy and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Several large efforts are already underway to make significant strides toward this goal. While the university continues to push action and innovations on several fronts, it has identified a near-term opportunity to work with Climate Vault and use the cap-and-trade market—which is designed to limit harmful emissions—to accelerate its impact, allowing it to become the first member of the Association of American Universities to achieve carbon neutrality.

Vanderbilt is also a large-scale renewable energy leader within the Tennessee Valley region with a bold community partnership with TVA and the Nashville Electric Service for solar energy that serves as a model for other institutions.  

To learn more about the broader university sustainability goals, as well as review the annual sustainability report, please visit the FutureVU Sustainability website.


FutureVU’s long-term sustainability strategy calls for reducing the consumption of waste on campus. Strategies are focused on everything from food waste, to elimination of single-use plastics, to landfill waste reduction, to improvements in the campus recycling program and changes in procurement strategies.

Vanderbilt has a 30-year history of recycling efforts to reduce waste going to landfills. In addition to traditional recycling programs for materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard, and glass, Vanderbilt has recycling programs for non-traditional materials like construction and demolition debris, toner cartridges, batteries, light bulbs, scrap metal, and electronics. Additionally, the ReUse program that started in 2016 sustainably manages unneeded furniture and equipment owned by Vanderbilt University departments and laboratories.  Vanderbilt has also made significant efforts to reduce waste from its dining facilities in the form of food waste reduction, and the reduction of waste from food service.

Campus Dining has adopted two innovative systems to help reduce food waste. A cloud-based system, known as Fusion, offers a complete food and nutrition solution from menu planning to production, food service operations, purchasing and cost management, and student mobile nutrition information. The second system utilized is a technology called LeanPath. This system tracks all pre-and post-consumer waste as well as composted food waste and records the information in a cloud base system allowing for department-wide analytics and waste analysis. LeanPath also helps avoid overbuying and reduces the need for unwanted food donation programs.

In early FY21, Vanderbilt University announced PepsiCo as its official beverage provider for its campus dining operations and vending locations. The new agreement provides the entire university community with PepsiCo’s broad portfolio of beverages, including Pepsi, Gatorade, Pure Leaf iced tea, Mountain Dew, Starbucks ready-to-drink coffee, STUBBORN craft soda and more. A full transition of products took place before Aug. 1, 2020. This new partnership addresses the university’s sustainability goals and changing student needs.

32 BigBelly solar trash compactors added on campus in FY2021


96 tons of food waste composted in FY2021


9 food waste collection sites on campus as of FY2021


145 total hydration stations on campus as of FY2021



FutureVU considers sustainable infrastructure as an important element to ensure changes to the built environment are handled in an environmentally responsible and efficient manner.  The university aims to impact the built environment in positive ways and minimize negative impacts as much as possible.

Vanderbilt was honored with a 2020 Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council for the institution’s achievements in green building and its commitment to creating a healthy, sustainable future. The university was among 10 companies, projects and individuals across the nation to be spotlighted. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, known as LEED, has become the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance sustainable buildings. The council noted in its award announcement that Vanderbilt places a high priority on incorporating sustainability into the university’s construction and renovation projects.

22 total LEED certified buildings on campus as of FY2021


1 WELL certified buildings on campus as of FY2021 (certification pending)


1 PETAL certified buildings on campus as of FY2021 (certification pending)


Central to the FutureVU vision are a series of transformative projects to address specific opportunities and challenges in each of the campus neighborhoods. FutureVU provides a consistent strategy and guiding principles necessary for the realization of all capital projects and changes to the built environment. All capital projects are aligned with the mission of the university, the goals of the Academic Strategic Plan and the objectives of FutureVU.

The university has a variety of capital and built environment projects underway. For more information on the capital project process, as well as academic affairs capital projects, please visit the following website.

Projects Completed in FY2021

Projects and Studies Underway


FutureVU aims to clearly contextualize inclusion in the built environment through careful space design. In May 2017, the university launched a comprehensive accessibility study with the long-term goal of making indoor and outdoor areas accessible and inclusive. The study was a multi-step process that included critically assessing and documenting different accessibility features on campus, integrating data collected with VU technologies and abilities to create an authoritative database for accessibility and other issues, and launching a task force to create an Accessibility Master Plan.  The master plan was finalized and endorsed in FY2019.


Owen Graduate School of Management

Creating more diverse and inclusive spaces on campus is a priority of the university and embedded in the FutureVU principles. As new building projects are identified, accessibility and inclusiveness are important tenets and will be integrated into design guidelines.

OGSM Conceptual Rendering

The renovation and expansion of Owen Graduate School of Management (OGSM) includes a total of 48,000-square-feet, extending the size of Management Hall by 50 percent to better accommodate the wider Vanderbilt and Nashville business communities. Similar to other capital projects on campus, sustainability was at the forefront of the design process and the OGSM project will be seeking a LEED certification.  The interior work includes a new entrance facing 21st Avenue to make the university’s campus more accessible to the Vanderbilt community and the surrounding Nashville community, a new cafe, flexible active learning classroom, collaboration spaces for students and a multipurpose room that will be able to fit OGSM’s entire MBA student body are part of the design.

The exterior includes the removal of parking lot 6b to make way for another portion of the Walk & Roll Loop,  a wide comfortable loop encircling campus for active transportation and recreation.  The new pathways will enhance the area’s ADA accessibility and add more green space.

Multicultural Community Space

A new community space for multicultural student organizations and their leaders to gather was planned during FY21 and opened Fall 2021. The Office of the Dean of Students and the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity (SCSJI) announced the Multicultural Community Space also will serve as an additional location for events, programming and storage for these groups.

Student leaders and organizations that are coached by the SCSJI and are a part of the Multicultural Leadership Council are able to reserve the space, with the hope that cultural groups will make the MCS their own and cultivate community.

The MCS features a meeting room that can be used for lounge space or reserved for group meetings, presentations and more. In addition, the space has a full kitchen and can accommodate rehearsals, banquets and event after-parties. The MCS also provides a number of rooms that can serve as storage space for the student organizations affiliated with the SCSJI.

Learn more about this project.

Student Access Space at Rand Hall

Planning for a new Student Access Space in Rand started early in FY21, and construction is set to begin in December 2021.  To be completed by April 2022, the student access space will feature private offices, proctored testing rooms for students who need accommodations and a lounge for student groups.

The space is designed to be a peaceful environment with strategically selected colors and materials. The floors will be a luxury vinyl tile to avoid carpets that can collect allergens. There will also be several types of testing rooms such as spaces with dimming lights to accommodate students with light sensitivity and group testing spaces with privacy screens. The Student Access Space will be fully ADA accessible.

Infrastructure Improvements

10 light poles were replaced in FY2021 as a part of capital projects

Additional Inclusivity Improvements

195 total gender inclusive restrooms on campus as of FY2021


25 total lactation/wellness rooms on campus as of FY2021



Overarching Site and Landscape Target

FutureVU builds on the park-like setting most notably found in the Historic Core neighborhood of campus. FutureVU aims to strengthen the beauty and diversity of campus by identifying and embracing existing open spaces and creating new open spaces, connecting edges and destinations in a legible manner, and opening visual connections throughout campus. In addition, increasing campus green spaces is a core component of the university’s long-term sustainability strategy.

Full Campus

Setting an overarching site and landscape target is necessary to achieving the goals outlined in FutureVU. The FutureVU framework calls for an overarching campus-wide target of 50% green space, 25% hardscape and 25% building footprint.  As of the end of FY2021, the current campus breakdown is 33% green space, 38% hardscape and 29% building footprint. As development continues on campus, percentages will continue to be updated with the intention of achieving the campus-wide target.

Neighborhood specific targets were also identified as part of the FutureVU framework. The West End neighborhood is one of the first neighborhoods to undergo significant transformation on campus. Before and after percentages for the neighborhood will be updated following the completion of Residential College-C.

Campus-Wide Site and Landscape Target

landscape and the arboretum

For almost 150 years, the Vanderbilt University Arboretum has helped define the character of the university’s campus as a forested oasis within urban Nashville.  Through the vision of Vanderbilt’s founder, Bishop Holland McTyeire, thousands of trees planted early in the university’s history now form the core of the arboretum’s mature specimens.  In fact, McTyeire first referred to Vanderbilt’s trees as an arboretum in 1879. Since its founding, the university has continued to expand the arboretum through ongoing planting efforts and strategic planning.

The university’s arboretum collection now contains over 6,000 trees, with a focus on native and adapted species to the middle Tennessee region. However, with over 150 different species, there are some unique specimens selected for their interest. These trees cover the over 300 acres of the Vanderbilt University grounds. The oldest, and most famous, of the collection, is the Bicentennial Oak, a Bur Oak dating back to before the American Revolution. The most common species in the arboretum is Magnolia grandiflora, with over 500 representatives. There are a total of 16 species of oaks on campus—the most common genus on campus—with willow and pin oaks being the most common species. Though the symbol of Vanderbilt is the white oak tree leaf and acorn, there are only 53 white oak trees on campus.

In FY2021, the university’s arboretum earned the ArbNet II certification.





Stormwater Management

Bioretention area in front of E. Bronson Ingram College
Bioretention area in front of E. Bronson Ingram College

FutureVU considers stormwater management and water conservation core to landscape sustainability. Improved stormwater management can be tackled through a variety of methods, including:

  • Canopy – slows water;
  • Green spaces – absorb and slow run-off;
  • Removing and limiting pavement – reduces run-off.

Stormwater can also be expressed as a design feature integrated in the park-like setting of campus. FutureVU aims to utilize a campus-wide approach to stormwater by implementing a variety of green infrastructure and low-impact development practices, such as bioretention areas, in order to achieve stormwater goals.

91 trees planted in FY2021


6091 total trees on campus as of FY2021


6 total green roofs on campus as of FY2021


25 total stormwater management units (bio-retention) on campus as of FY2021



Issues of transportation and mobility are paramount to FutureVU efforts given the goals to beautify the campus, enhance the park-like character community members enjoy and better connect areas of campus that feel disconnected. FutureVU calls for the diversification of transportation options, prioritization of pedestrian mobility and improvement of accessibility. In addition, commute travel accounts for a significant portion of the campus’ greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and reducing those emissions is paramount to the university’s long-term sustainability strategy.

During FY2021, the university expanded upon programs as part of MoveVU, the university’s strategic transportation and mobility plan.

transportation and parking programs
  Daily Parking Program

During winter 2020, the Transportation and Mobility Office launched the MoveVU Commute Hub, which is an essential component of the shift toward making a daily decision on how to commute to campus and enables the delivery of a daily parking option. The new daily parking program piloted during the 2020-21 academic year in response to feedback about the desire for more commute options, including sustainable options, and flexibility when parking. The program, is available to faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate and professional students.

Those who were selected for the program had access to the Terrace Place, Wesley Place and Sony garages and paid to park only on the days they drove to campus. Participants’ commute trips, whether parking or sustainable commutes, were logged in their personal Commute Calendar used to monitor commute activity and record parking charges. The Transportation and Mobility office monitored activity in the garages and feedback from participants and was able to allow more participants into the program over the course of the year, largely due to a shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team continued planning for the expansion of the daily parking program for FY2022 .

1,400 participants in the first round of daily parking permits


1,700+ participants expressed interest in the daily parking pilot

Guaranteed Ride Home

A new MoveVU program called “Guaranteed Ride Home” was launched in summer 2021 and provides sustainable commuters with a free Lyft ride home in the event of an emergency or unforeseen circumstance. Sustainable commuter refers to someone who takes a sustainable commute mode including walking, biking, carpool, commuter rail, bus and vanpool to campus. This new offering is available to faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate and professional students enrolled in daily parking. Available through the MoveVU Commute Hub, the program is intended to offer eligible users the safety net and confidence they need to feel comfortable taking sustainable commute options to campus, knowing they will be able to take a free ride home a certain number of times a year if necessary.

Mobility Rides

The Mobility Rides program, a joint project among Equal Opportunity and Access, Student Access, Public Safety and the Transportation and Mobility Office, continued to provide service using electric golf carts to students, faculty and staff with medical or accessibility needs who have registered and are approved.

164 mobility rides offered in FY2021

Hourly Paid Parking

Vanderbilt launched a new hourly paid parking program in select parking lots and garages on-campus for short-term and visitor parking needs during summer 2021. Campus visitors and Vanderbilt community members can use these spaces powered by parking app ParkMobile which offers a variety of contactless payment options. The addition of hourly paid parking spaces is an outcome of the FY2020 parking program study which explored how short-term and flexible parking options can be added to the parking program to better align with the Vanderbilt community’s diverse needs.

97 new spaces created in FY2021


277 spaces converted in FY2021


Campus-Wide Parking Statistics

186 parking spaces removed in FY2021


179 total ADA parking spaces on campus in FY2021

Pedestrian Safety

Vision Zero seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility. The aspirations of Vision Zero align closely with MoveVU goals of improving pedestrian safety, connectivity and transportation in and around the Vanderbilt campus. To make campus infrastructure more welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists, the MoveVU team is engaging the campus community in discussions about their specific needs.

The MoveVU team, with significant participation from Vanderbilt students, started partnering with Walk Bike Nashville to host a series of Vision Zero seminars featuring industry professionals speaking on issues surrounding pedestrian safety and how to improve it.

3 webinars occurred in FY2021

Learn more about additional pedestrian safety efforts here.


VandyRide, the nighttime shuttle service, continued to provide service during the 2020–21 academic year under increased health and safety protocols. VUPS implemented enhanced cleaning protocols for shuttles and operated at reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. In addition, all drivers and riders were required to wear masks and drivers had their temperatures screened daily.

In addition to adapting VandyRide service due to the pandemic, a new Point to Point service was launched in fall 2020. This service provided undergraduate students living within a half-mile from campus a free ride home. It was designed to deliver the greater number of students living off-campus due to the pandemic to their off-campus residences.

In a collaboration with Vanderbilt Student Government, VandyRide also provided free shuttles to polling places for students during early voting and on Election Day in fall 2021.

Over 1,600 point to point service rides in FY2021


55 students participated in rides to polling locations in FY2021


Intersection Improvements

In spring 2020, Vanderbilt collaborated with Metropolitan Nashville Public Works to pilot automatic pedestrian crosswalk signals at five major intersections around the university and along a portion of 21st Avenue South in an effort to increase pedestrian safety as well as eliminate pedestrians’ need to press the crosswalk buttons.

Vanderbilt Parking Services noted approximately 12 discrepancies at various crosswalk locations on campus during the fiscal year. Discrepancies ranged from missing trunnion cone pads to non-functioning audible signals to non-functioning crossing signal lights.

18 intersections continued to run on an automatic cycle in FY2021


All discrepancies fixed in FY2021


Walk and Roll Loop

The university plans to develop a greenway network, building off the greenway concept foundational to FutureVU, throughout campus and a Walk and Roll Loop around the campus edge. This comprehensive, layered and connected mobility ecosystem is aimed at connecting neighborhoods, making campus more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly and opening the campus edge to the surrounding community.

As part of the Owen Graduate School of Management renovation and addition project, parking lot 6B on 21st Avenue between Scarritt Place and Grand Avenue was closed in spring 2021. The removal of this hardscape is in support of the university’s FutureVU initiative and sustainability goals to add more green space and create a more park-like setting on campus. The parking lot will be transformed into a new welcoming entrance along 21st Avenue as well as a portion of the Walk & Roll Loop, a wide comfortable loop encircling campus for active transportation and recreation. The enhanced ADA accessible pathways, Walk & Roll loop and green space support the university’s goal to improve connectivity and accessibility throughout its campus. All ADA parking spaces in the permanently closed lot were relocated to surrounding parking lots and garages. A Walk & Roll Steering Committee is being formed in fall 2021 to determine the alignment of the Walk & Roll Loop and guide the design and materials to provide for connectivity and consistency across campus.

Bike Lane Enhancements

Vanderbilt implemented bike lane enhancements on campus as part of efforts to ensure bicycling is a safe and attractive form of transportation for students, faculty and staff.

A new bike lane was piloted on Jess Neely Drive from 25th Avenue to Natchez Trace. Vanderbilt worked with Metro Nashville to restrict on-street parking in this area and provide a separated space for bicyclists to travel. The purpose of the pilot was to provide a temporary bike lane that improves safety between vehicles and bicyclists crossing campus and to understand its impacts which will help inform potential long-term changes on this corridor. The pilot supports MoveVU’s efforts to enhance biking across campus and increase biking from 3% of trips to 8% by 2025.

The MoveVU team, including a MoveVU intern, collaborated with the School of Engineering on a video capture and walk and bike count study of the pilot bike lane.

32 hours’ worth of data collected


2,400 total pedestrians counted, with an average of 75 pedestrians per hour


204 total bicyclists counted with an average of 7.5 bicyclists per hour

A bike lane was installed on the portion of Vanderbilt Place between 25th Avenue and the transit roundabout near Rand Hall/Sarratt Student Center as part of West End neighborhood improvements. Posts will be installed along the bike lane to provide a separated space between vehicles and bicyclists. The enhanced bike lane provides improved safety for vulnerable bicyclists, allows flexibility to remove posts when needed for events or operational needs, and supports long-term campus plans to provide bicycle infrastructure for a range of biking abilities.


Community engagement has been a founding pillar to the development of FutureVU. Similar to the academic strategic planning process, the land use planning process was open and inclusive, involving individuals from across the community (faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and Nashville community members).  The land use plan represents innovative ideas that have emerged through collaborations with the Vanderbilt community. Broad consensus and support of the overarching guiding principles has been a cornerstone of efforts. Engagement has continued as the university embarks on the implementation of FutureVU.

FY2021 Engagement Statistics

Articles, Social Media, Newsletters

32 myVU articles on FutureVU efforts


85 social media posts related to FutureVU (@futurevunews, @vanderbiltmovevu, @futurevusustainability)


3 building project/construction related newsletters issued (West End neighborhood and Peabody neighborhood)


1 survey issued including survey on COVID-19 Pandemic & Community


15 key events held including WeGo Public Transit Forum, pedestrian safety webinars, presentations, and sustainability events


6 tours of Power Plant in FY2021

5 tours of arboretum in FY2021

academic, research

Staff involved in the implementation of FutureVU across the Division of Administration were involved with a variety of academic courses. Involvement ranged from presenting on FutureVU principles, to co-teaching courses, providing campus tours and more. Classes involved in included:

Sustainable Development with Professor Lori Troxel


Sustainability on Vanderbilt Campus with Professor Dan Morgan


Introduction to Environmental Humanities with Professor Teresa Goddu


Senior Design Projects with Professor Lori Troxel


Architectural Heritage: Research and Document with Professor Worsnick


Future of Mobility with Professor Dan Work


Various research engagements continue to be established.  A few highlights from FY2021 include:

  • MoveVU CMAQ Grant: Based on the success of the MoveVU sustainable transportation program, Vanderbilt University received an additional $8.4 million to scale up its activities. This is the second CMAQ award TDOT has given to Vanderbilt by TDOT in connection with the MoveVU program. CMAQ is a federal initiative intended to support state departments of transportation with projects that improve air quality and reduce congestion.
  • “Smart Building” Technologies: The Vanderbilt Facilities Department has also been engaged in support of the education and research mission of the university.  Members of the department have engaged with Dr. Biswas, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, and Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering and his research team from the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS), to develop “Smart Building” technologies.
  • Social Distancing Research: Vanderbilt staff have been involved with research being conducted by Will Barbour in VU’s Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) to understand how visual cues impact social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and how software learning algorithms can measure distance between people to understand how these visual cues might be most effective.