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Through higher education programs and workforce initiatives, Virginia’s Community Colleges have a long history of strengthening the economy and meeting the needs of the Commonwealth. Consistent with the System’s mission, the VCCS must prepare its students, faculty, and staff for the great shift towards developing a “green” economy. Virginia Highlands Community College is eagerly taking part in this movement to reduce costs and conserve energy.

Specifically, the College commits itself to the following initiatives:

  • Fully comply with Governor Kaine’s Executive Order 82;
  • Monitor campus energy efficiency and adjust usage accordingly;
  • Integrate sustainability concepts into individual college courses and across curricula;
  • Provide faculty, staff, and students with information on sustainability issues;
  • Add a sustainability section to the College’s Strategic Plan;
  • Provide the opportunity for student involvement in College energy initiatives;
  • Encourage community service projects that enhance sustainability;
  • Modify the campus motor pool, buildings, and landscape to increase energy efficiency;
  • Develop partnerships with major energy producers, distributors, service industries, and coalitions to showcase our mutual interest in conservation and efficiency;
  • Distribute publicity to highlight the College’s sustainability initiatives through electronic newsletters and press releases.

The Administrative Services Committee of Virginia Highlands Community College is responsible for advising the College on moving towards a more sustainable future.

The responsibilities of the committee are to:

  • Make recommendations to the President, Faculty, Classified Staff, and other administrative officials, as appropriate, concerning environmental issues.
  • Assist in planning programs and events designed to increase awareness of green principles.
  • Develop and maintain contacts with similar committees and sustainability offices at colleges, universities and other public and private institutions in the area.
  • Help publicize VHCC's efforts to become more sustainable and thus increase the public perception of VHCC as a progressive and valuable member of the higher ed community.

Statement of Principles
A statement of principles developed by the VHCC Sustainability Committee was presented for consideration by PAC. The intent of these principles is to incorporate sustainable, environmentally sound best practices and resources in new construction and renovation projects and to include environmental considerations among top priorities in maintenance and operations.

  • In new construction and in renovation projects, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient principles and practices will be a major consideration.
  • VHCC will use energy and water efficiently, promote good environmental quality both indoors and out, and use sustainable and non-toxic materials whenever possible.
  • VHCC will give significant priority to energy efficiency and environmental impact when purchasing equipment, materials, and supplies.
  • VHCC will seek and maintain an effective recycling program.
  • VHCC will seek to increase awareness of sustainable principles and practices among its faculty, staff, and students.

Conservation and Cost Savings Measures

Savings Measures
The recent budget challenges have led many state agencies, including Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC), to make changes to normal operating practices and spending. While the College administration is working diligently to tackle these financial challenges, there are many ways that you - the College community - can help to conserve College resources.

 Reducing Energy Consumption

  • Turn off lights when leaving an office or classroom.
  • Turn off computers, monitors and other electronic devices at the end of the day.
  • Eliminate personal appliances (microwaves, refrigerators, space heaters, etc).

Note: Due to varying building temperatures, it may be necessary to dress warmer than usual. Severe extremes in temperatures are a maintenance issue and should be reported to the Superintendant of Buildings & Grounds.

  •  Refrain from using handicapped door openers unless required by need.

Reducing Printing Consumables

  • Use projector capabilities to display classroom/meeting information versus using printed materials. If an attendee wishes to have a copy of the materials, send an electronic version via email.
  • Print on both sides of the paper.
  • Make scrap paper by cutting excess paper into self-made notepads.
  • Using systems such as Blackboard and the intranet to house documents for easy retrieval by many users.
  • Use the scan to e-mail feature. Several of the College's offices have scanners that can create a PDF or TIFF file that can be sent through e-mail, so no paper is needed. Use “send to email as an attachment” when using Microsoft Office Software.

Reducing Fuel Consumption

  • Plan trips carefully. Combine short trips into one if possible.
  • Carpool with other individuals traveling to the same location.
  • Use video teleconferencing whenever possible to avoid unnecessary trips between College locations.
  • Telecommute if suitable for job duties and with supervisor approval.

Other ways the College may seek to reduce costs

  • Use flextime to provide office coverage instead of overtime.
  • Adjust light bulbs and temperature settings.
  • Reduce travel.
  • Reduce printed publications.

Recycling and Conservation
At VHCC we are continually researching ways that we can do our part to improve the environment. Through recycling and conservation, the College community can significantly reduce its environmental footprint.

Did you know...

  • Recycling a four-foot stack of newspapers saves the equivalent of one 40-foot fir tree?
  • Every glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours?
  • Making cans from recycled aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy required to produce cans from virgin material?

Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial airline fleet every three months?
While these facts are alarming, we all can do our part to make a difference. That is why VHCC takes the necessary steps to ensure that as a College community we are doing our part to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

The College offers the means and methods for the VHCC community to recycle the following items:

  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard

In addition, the College recycles the following items used in its daily operations:

  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent Light Bulbs
  • Ink Cartridges

VHCC has improved various business practices in regards to facility use in order to reduce and conserve. In December 2005, VHCC contracted the services of an energy efficiency company, TAC, which has provided upgrades to the following:

  • Reduction in the use of electricity and natural gas through the upgrade of the HVAC system.
  • Reduction in water usage by installing new toilets and flush valves that are designed to operate with less water.
  • Reduction in energy usage during non peak hours by installing new digital controls for the HVAC units across campus.
  • Reduction in energy usage by installing a hot water loop system in ISC Building.
  • Boiler in NEB Building has been replaced by a burner.
  • Natural gas – boilers now have temperature gauges to conserve energy.

It is our hope to ingrain the importance of environmental conservation into the College's culture and to continue to find new ways to contribute.

Have ideas and suggestions?
Please contact Chris Fields at to offer any suggestions that would help make VHCC green.

Thank you to Chancellor’s Task Force on Environmental Sustainability, Northern Virginia Community College, and Lord Fairfax Community College for use of their information.

Last updated: 4/19/2012 11:50:42 AM