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

SEMO has facilitated the following significant sustainability achievements since 2008 (inception) as follows:

  • Ranked #21 on Princeton Review’s Green Colleges list in 2018
  • Received the 2016 and 2018 TN Sustainable Transportation Award from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation;
  • Awarded a $4.5 million, three-year federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant;
  • Awarded multiple awards from Nashville PARK(ing) Days in 2017 and 2018
  • Increased recycling almost 42-fold from 250,000 pounds to 10,432,000 pounds between 2007 and 2017;
  • 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” with a perfect score;
  • 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;
  • Completed a $29 million conversion of the VU power plant to all natural gas fuel, eliminating coal use on campus in November 2014 and reducing power plant greenhouse gas emissions 25% in two years;
  • Certified 19 projects under the environmental requirements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program;
  • Invested $8 million in energy efficiency retrofits to existing buildings;
  • Diverted 47% of waste from landfills;
  • Initiated Earth-Friendly Move In, Earth-Friendly Move Out, and Green Commencement programs including the elimination of 25,000 water bottles each year, recycling of cardboard, styrofoam, unwanted items and appliances during Move-in and Move-Out, recycling of Commencement gowns, programs, and fans as well as donation of leftover strawberries to the Nashville Zoo animals each year.
  • Reused 36 tons of unwanted furniture and materials through the ReUse Surplus Program launched in 2016;
  • Installed the first-ever solar hot water heater system and solar photovoltaic (PV) system on campus in 2016, saving 40% of the building’s natural gas use and 20% electrical use annually resulting in significant cost savings;
  •  Installed a Green Roof on Rand Dining Center in 2017;
  • Assisted Vanderbilt University and Medical Center in becoming the only certified Bike Friendly University in Nashville in 2015;
  • Assisted Vanderbilt Printing Services in achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody certification in 2012 and implementing the Campus Print initiative in 2016;
  • Composted 132 tons of landscaping and leaf waste annually, which is reused as mulch;
  • Retrofitted all 77 urinals in the VU football stadium and 900 showerheads on campus to low-flow, high-performance models saving 28 million gallons of water per year and over 3,500 bathroom fixtures conserving another 50 million gallons annually;
  • Involved over 300 members of the Vanderbilt community in the development of Vanderbilt’s Environmental Commitment Statement, released April 22, 2009;
  • Established the VU Community Garden and the VU Apiary beehives;
  • Initiated the Vanderbilt Green Fund, sustainability component of the Commons Cup, Commons Unplugged, Greenest Group on Campus competition with Athletics, and VU Park(ing) Day outreach events as well as Aspiranaut and Team Green annual campus sustainability tours;
  • Provided 7 undergraduate students internship experience each year