UVA has the singular distinction among U.S. colleges of being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Not only do our experts maintain historical structures for continued use, we are adding cutting-edge buildings to our portfolio – all with an eye toward sustainability. The University’s physical footprint comprises over 550 buildings that must be maintained for a range of uses including classrooms, offices, dormitories, science and medical labs, cafeterias, heating and cooling facilities, the arts, libraries and much more. Encompassing more than 18 million square feet (the equivalent of 300 football fields), these facilities are key to supporting the University’s 2030-2050 Sustainability Plan.
UVA’s buildings impact the environment in numerous ways. They are responsible for over 95% of the University’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, and over 80% of water consumption. They can also affect human health and well-being. Access to fresh air and daylight, for example, has been shown to enhance the mental and physical health of occupants.
UVA has developed a suite of initiatives to promote sustainable, high-performance facilities (see below). Despite a 21% increase in building area and an 18.4% growth in population between 2010 and 2021, UVA reduced its carbon footprint by almost 43% emissions. As the University works to complete several major projects and renovations (the Forum Hotel Kimpton at Darden, Karsh Institute of Democracy, School of Data Science, Hotel and Conference Center, Center for the Arts, Contemplative Sciences Center and the Alderman Library renovation), we anticipate that ratio will continue to decrease.
Green Building Standards
The term “green buildings” broadly refers to facilities that entail design, construction and operational strategies that reduce their environmental impact and promote occupant well-being. The UVA Green Building Standards identify sustainability best practices that support the University’s stewardship goals, promote human health and reduce facility operating costs. The standards apply to all new buildings and major renovations.
Since 2007, UVA has required that all major construction or renovation projects pursue green building certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program operated by the US Green Building Council. UVA has 82 LEED projects and over 5 million square feet certified as of summer 2023.
Building Efficiency Program
Housed in UVA’s Office for Sustainability, the Building Efficiency Program provides whole-building performance contracting services for facilities across Grounds. Using a revolving loan fund model, the program (formerly known as Delta Force ), provides these services at no upfront cost. From 2019-2021, BEP invested $6.3 million in new energy efficiency projects on Grounds. With more than 10 years of similar investments, the program has achieved $21.6 million in energy cost savings in those three years.
The Smart Labs program bridges safety and energy efficiency in UVA's research spaces by individually and comprehensively assessing each lab, consulting its researchers, UVA Health and Safety experts, and energy engineers to identify infrastructure improvements. The program is anticipated to save an estimated $5 million per year, expanding on the already established and successful Green Labs program, which engages with researchers on sustainability practices in their labs.
This program provides a framework for optimizing the performance of University healthcare facilities by identifying opportunities to enhance safety, efficiency, reliability and occupant health in clinical settings.
The Green Workplace Program engages UVA employees in actions that conserve resources, save money and advance sustainability through a set of recommendations and certification tiers.
We are proud to have received a number of designations and award for the combined efforts of multiple UVA partner entities as we continue to move the University toward achieving the goals in the UVA 2020-2030 Sustainability Plan.
- Building Efficiency Program
- Sustainable Labs
- Green Workplace
- LEED Buildings at UVA
- Building Energy & Water Tracker