With over 550 buildings and 3,300 acres of land, UVA demonstrates a strong commitment to sustainability by ensuring robust environmental standards are applied to new construction, existing buildings and the extensive landscaped Grounds.
New Construction and Renovations
In 2007, the UVA Board of Visitors enacted a policy requiring all major new construction and major renovations to achieve U.S.Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. UVA’s LEED policy requires all major new and renovation building projects that come before the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the BOV to achieve a minimum of a LEED Certified rating upon completion.
As of April 2022, the University and the College of Wise together have 78 LEED certified buildings, representing more than 4.5 million square feet, as well as several registered projects in progress.
Green Building Standards and Process
Project managers and leads should contact the Office for Sustainability as early in the design phase as possible to discuss the project scope and to connect to additional resources: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University's Green Building Standards were updated in 2021 (see Chapter 8 of the Facilities Design Guidelines) outline UVA’s minimum expectations for aligning University-wide sustainability goals with building design, construction, and maintenance. The standards include a comprehensive package of prescriptive requirements, an implementation process to support projects in meeting the standards in a cost-effective manner, and for capital projects, an enhanced process to embed sustainability into the decision-making process.
The Green Building Standards apply to all projects (any project requiring a building or project permit), within the project’s scope of work. Supplemental standards for new construction and major renovations for which LEED certification is already a minimum requirement (see UVA’s LEED Policy below) are included in Part II.
Life Cycle Cost Calculator
UVA's Life Cycle Cost Calculator was developed to enable decision makers and stakeholders in considering all present and future costs related to new construction, renovation, equipment replacement or any other project on Grounds with upfront and ongoing expenditures.
The calculator is based on an open-source tool developed by Harvard University, which corresponds to ASTM Life Cycle Cost Analysis standards. The UVA calculator has UVA-specific assumptions: utility rates and future escalations are forecast by UVA Facilities Management, and the discount rate used is UVA’s internal rate of return.
Resources for New Buildings
Resources for Existing Buildings
The University of Virginia's Academical Village has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the only university in the United States to receive this prestigious designation. Stewardship of the university Grounds takes many forms: architectural oversight, historic preservation, land use planning, stormwater management, and responsible maintenance. The Office of the Architect leads planning for the University. Read more about land use planning, including the Grounds Plan and Academical Village Cultural Landscape Report.
UVA recently earned the 2018 Tree Campus USA designation, which recognizes UVA’s stewardship of its trees and the extensive benefits trees provide to everyone on Grounds.
Sustainable Landscape Management
UVA prioritizes the use of adapted, low-maintenance, and non-invasive plant species in landscape design and replacement. Irrigation is not standard practice at UVA and nearly all landscapes are designed using xeriscaping techniques with specification of drought-tolerant plants.
All pest management, except for Athletics and Intramural Recreation fields, is directed by UVA’s Plant Healthcare Specialist. Grounds are maintained in accordance with Integrated Pest Management strategies that adhere to a four-tiered approach. The Plant Healthcare Specialist is responsible for setting action thresholds and will recommend plant replacement in situations where plant material is likely to attract pests. When controls are used, biological controls, such as the use of nematodes, are prioritized.
UVA Facilities Management Landscaping Services operates its own composting facilities for weeds and other landscape trimmings. The majority of debris generated by the University's maintenance tasks remains on Grounds at a stockpile location. The institution's woody waste is ground into wood chips for reuse as rough mulch and non-woody waste is composted along with leaves.