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Who We Are

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.

Vanderbilt’s significant sustainability achievements since 2008 (inception) have been 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”;
  • 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 16 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 18% from 2008 and by over 29% per square foot;
  • Diverted 32% of waste from landfills;
  • Recycled 8.6 million pounds of materials in 2015, up 13% since 2014, and just over triple the volume since 2010;
  • Installed the first-ever solar hot water heater system on campus in 2016, saving 40% of the building’s natural gas use annually resulting in significant cost savings;
  •  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;
  • Composted 132 tons of landscaping and leaf waste annually, which is reused as mulch;
  • Retrofitted 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; and
  • Organized 37 student volunteers each year to serve as Eco-Dore peer environmental educators for undergraduate residential students.