University of Virginia Rotunda

The newly renovated Rotunda is pictured at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

By Tyler Hammel

The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary have made commitments to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The two state schools will share information and collaborate on initiatives aimed at achieving zero net greenhouse emissions, according to a joint news release. The schools will collaborate on outreach and engagement opportunities internally and with their surrounding localities, as well as support other higher education institutions.

The commitments follow an executive order issued earlier this year by Gov. Ralph Northam that seeks for Virginia to produce 100% of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2050.

A plan under consideration by UVa’s Board of Visitors builds on previously set sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions goals, according to the release.

In 2011, the Board of Visitors endorsed a goal for UVa to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 2009 levels by 2025. That goal will be reached this year, six years ahead of schedule, according to the release.

“UVa will seek to catalyze change to advance these new, ambitious sustainability goals in ways that create replicable and collaborative models to build bridges with our community and beyond,” Andrea Trimble, director of UVa’s Office of Sustainability, said in the release.

“The potential to work with the surrounding region, as well as other institutions of higher education, including William & Mary, offers a leadership and partnership opportunity that will scale up equitable climate change solutions on Grounds and beyond.”

Trimble cited further examples of challenges to be evaluated, including moving away from fossil fuels; weighing new construction and population growth; and collecting data and identifying strategies to reduce emissions from commuting.

“Both parties could benefit from swifter climate action, pooled resources and knowledge, a more regional focus on climate action, and the potential to replicate and amplify the impacts beyond the two schools,” she said.

UVa’s latest goals include implementing a climate action plan; expanding plant-based meal offerings; switching to sustainably raised meats; reducing food waste; and increasing access to community-based producers and sourcing local foods.

The Board of Visitors is scheduled to consider the new sustainability proposal at its meeting Friday.

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