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Sustainability Operational Projects and Studies

The topic of sustainability is weaved throughout the FutureVU vision and the FutureVU Guiding Principles. As part of the FutureVU planning process, Vanderbilt, alongside Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Atelier Ten, studied Vanderbilt's current practices, internal stakeholder goals and objectives, peer university programs, and the local and national sustainability context.  With these efforts, FutureVU provides an initial set of recommendations including, but not limited to, the topics of site and landscape, stormwater management, water conservation, energy, building guidelines, alternative transportation, etc.

As part of FutureVU, Atelier Ten prepared a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions forecast, outlining potential targets and scenarios for the university to reach a significant reduction in GHG by 2050 - see image below.  

A10 Study

Vanderbilt is launching two comprehensive operational studies to further expand on the forecast recommendations and aid in the development of solutions that may result in a significant reduction in the university's environmental impact.  These studies include a large-scale renewable energy study and BlueSky energy vision study.



Large - Scale Renewable Energy Study

One major potential improvement Vanderbilt may want to consider is the use of renewable energy as part of its power portfolio.  As a result of the FutureVU Atelier Ten analysis, Vanderbilt has chosen to study potential options for off-campus, large-scale (larger-than-2MW) renewable energy sources that include distributed solar or wind farms/projects. A competitive process was used to identify an expert partner, Customer First Renewables, to determine the best future renewable energy strategy for Vanderbilt to consider by evaluating the viability of potential options on the basis of key criteria that include financial, social and environmental benefits and risk mitigation.  This project kicked off in September 2017 with the formation of an advisory committee and will result in a recommended strategy at the conclusion of its efforts. 

Advisory Committee Charge

The renewable energy advisory committee will explore options for the use of off-campus renewable energy sources in Vanderbilt's energy portfolio with the following goals:

(1) Maximize environmental benefit;

(2) Offset a portion of Vanderbilt’s electric supply;

(3) Provide intellectual and cultural leadership on this issue;

(4) Increase renewable energy capacity -- if feasible, within the TVA energy grid; and,

(5) Enhance Vanderbilt’s ability to achieve future carbon goals. 

Advisory Committee Membership


Jennifer Bischoff, director of finance;

Paul Chinski, undergraduate student, SPEAR representative;

Jim Clarke, Chair of Environmental Advisory Committee, professor of civil and environmental engineering;

Ryan Connor, undergraduate student, VSG representative;

Fernanda Contreras, undergraduate student;

Andrea George, director, Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO);

Thushara Gunda, postdoctoral researcher CEE (through Nov 2017);

Debbie Janke (project manager), assistant vice chancellor for facilities strategic initiatives;

Ed Kinney, sourcing officer, procurement;

Mitch Lampley, director, facilities engineering and tech support;

Keith Loiseau, university architect, director of campus planning and construction;

Chris Lowe, attorney, Office of General Counsel;

Geoff MacDonald, head women's tennis coach;

Mike Perez, chief facilities officer;

Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for plant operations;

Amy Shaw, postdoctoral candidate environmental engineering (starting Nov 2017);

Michael Vandenbergh, professor of law, Climate Change Research Network Director.


Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor, earth and environmental sciences;

George Hornberger, civil and environmental engineering (CEE).


Natalie Donovan, senior business analyst in facilities;

Ian Faucher, undergraduate student;

Chelsea Hamilton, outreach coordinator, SEMO.



BlueSky Energy Vision Study

As a result of FutureVU efforts, major potential opportunities to reduce Vanderbilt's carbon footprint and improve central campus land use were identified within the university's on-campus energy production, distribution and consumption infrastructure and behavior.  Even though Vanderbilt converted the existing on-campus combined heat and power plant from primarily coal-fired  to natural gas in 2014, substantial opportunities remain, particularly in building and central plant siting and energy efficiency. The BlueSky Energy Vision Study kicked off in November of 2017. The study will culminate in a "BlueSky Energy Vision" for campus energy in late 2018, early 2019.

Advisory Committee Charge

Composed of Vanderbilt University faculty, students and staff, the BlueSky Advisory Committee (BSAC) will:

(1) Participate in providing input, advice and feedback to the facilities team that is managing the BlueSky Energy Vision study and the selected consultant, ultimately resulting in recommendation(s) for consideration by university leadership; and

(2) Experience the opportunity of engaging in a highly transparent consulting effort, enriching educational, scholarly, and research experiences and opportunities.

Advisory Committee Membership


Lily Claiborne, senior lecturer, earth and environmental sciences;

Richard Chotard, attorney, Office of General Counsel;

Mark Cohen, professor of american competitive enterprise, professor of law;

Stacey Crowhurst, director of finance and administration, facilities;

Abhishek Dubey, assistant professor of computer engineering and computer science;

Ron Emeson, professor of pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular physiology & biophysics, psychiatry & behavioral sciences;

Andrea George, director, SEMO;

Teresa Goddu, associate professor, english and american studies;

Shawn Goodman, managing director, investments;

Robert Grajewski, executive director, Vanderbilt Innovation Center;

George Hornberger, professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth and environmental sciences, director of VIEE;

Debbie Janke (project manager), assistant vice chancellor, strategic initiatives;

Mitch Lampley, director, engineering and tech support, plant operations;

Geoff Little, assistant director of research and prospect development, DAR;

Keith Loiseau, university architect;

Mike Perez (project lead), associate vice chancellor and chief facilities officer;

Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor, plant operations;

Leigh Shoup, chief of staff, division of administration;

Jermaine Soto, director of operations, EDI;

Shanmuga Sundaram, assistant vice chancellor, Information Technology.


Lanier Langdale, undergraduate student (Vanderbilt Student Government representative) (Fall 2018);

Simon Silverberg, undergraduate student, VSG representative;

Dan Shaykevich, undergraduate student, SPEAR representative (Spring 2018);

Colin Smith, MBA student (Spring 2018).


Ian Faucher, undergraduate student, facilities intern;

Kyra Owensby, undergraduate student, facilities intern (Spring 2018);

Patrick Timmons, undergraduate student, FutureVU intern (Spring 2018);

Maren Wilder, undergraduate student, FutureVU intern (Fall 2018).


Chelsea Hamilton, outreach coordinator, SEMO.



Oct 9, 2017: Chancellor’s Town Hall focusing on campus accessibility, transportation and mobility, and sustainability set for Oct. 17, 2017

Oct 19, 2017: Zeppos engages campus community about FutureVU core values, next steps

Jan 25, 2018: FutureVU begins spring semester by continuing efforts to engage campus community

Mar 14, 2018: 'Dangers of Climate Change Denial' topic of lecture March 20

Mar 15, 2018: Redesigned sustainability report expands focus to include holistic environmental efforts

Mar 23, 2018: Making Nashville 'Living Building Ready' topic of March 29 event

Apr 4, 2018: BlueSky visioning session lays foundation for carbon footprint reduction

Jun 13, 2018: Second Making Nashville 'Living Building Ready' event June 21

Aug 10, 2018: Jason McLennan to discuss 'The Power of Transformative Goals' Aug 27

Aug 27, 2018: First sustainable, app-based VandyVans shelter launched

Aug 31, 2018: FutureVU lecture and vision session focuses on sustainability

Sep 11, 2018: Facilities invests in sustainable technologies across campus

Oct 24, 2018: Vanderbilt ranked 21st among top 'green' colleges and universities

Nov 14, 2018: Vanderbilt greenhouse gas emissions drop 12 percent, new sustainability report shows