Grounds as Living Lab

Grounds as Living Lab

Grounds as Living Lab

Faculty, students and staff partner on a range of experiential projects to connect global ideas to local implementation, strengthening both curricula and the stewardship of Grounds.

Student volunteers set up solar panels to help power the 2021 Lighting of the Lawn
Student volunteers set up solar panels to help power the 2021 Lighting of the Lawn.

Student coursework has been instrumental in advancing strategic sustainability initiatives at UVA. For example, Professor Andres Clarens’ Intro to Green Engineering course evaluated all 500+ rooftops at UVA for the potential for solar panels, and Lindsey Ivey Burden’s Solid Waste Management class contributed to the development of a waste action plan

Outside of the classroom, the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee’s working groups connect students with staff to implement projects across topic areas. Student-led projects are often funded through the GIFT grants and the Equity & Environment Fund.

Decarbonization Academy

In 2022, UVA launched the inaugural Summer Decarbonization Academy for students who want hands-on learning experiences while helping the University achieve its goals of being and carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil fuel free by 2050. The Teaching & Research Subcommittee of the University Sustainability Committee designed and launched the program, which provides a robust learning experience for rising third- and fourth-years and graduate students. 

Global Sustainability

Professor Phoebe Crisman’s Global Sustainability interdisciplinary course teaches students about a wide array of environmental issues across the planet and prepares them to innovate and lead efforts to address them.  Prof. Crisman, the Office for Sustainability and the Robertson Media Center have partnered to enhance the course with student-led photovoice assignments and videos. Using knowledge gained from tours of Grounds and observations from their photovoice assignments, students craft a pitch for an on-Grounds project that they believe would be most effective in accelerating change while expanding on the work UVA has already done. 

Toward the Resilient City

Using the Living Building Challenge as a framework, Barbara Brown Wilson’s Toward the Resilient City course partners with the Office for Sustainability to explore how developing an understanding of sustainability and resilient community development can be enhanced through research and case studies but also through local applications of third-party tools. Students work in groups to investigate potentially transformative opportunities to apply Living Building Challenge principles on Grounds.