SustainVU

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Who We Are

SEMO supports the Vanderbilt University community and facilities by identifying, inspiring, innovating, and quantifying environmental management and sustainability initiatives that positively impact the campus community, surrounding community, and the environment. SEMO is part of the Vanderbilt University Facilities organization which works collaboratively to build, maintain, manage and operate campus infrastructure in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner to support the overarching academic mission and goals of the university.

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

  • Received the 2016 TN Sustainable Transportation Award from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation;
  • 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 17 projects under the environmental requirements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program;
  • Invested $8 million in energy efficiency retrofits to existing buildings;
  • Reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions by 27% from 2008 and by over 35% per square foot;
  • Diverted 66% of waste from landfills;
  • Recycled 25 million pounds of materials in 2016, twice as much as we landfilled;
  • 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, highperformance 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;
  • Organized 37 student volunteers each year to serve as Eco-Dore peer environmental educators for undergraduate residential students.
  • Provided 7 undergraduate students internship experience each year