UVA is home to leading-edge nitrogen research that looks at impacts, causes and reduction strategies for reactive nitrogen. While most nitrogen in the atmosphere exists as inert gas, reactive nitrogen is found in many forms that contribute to environmental and human health issues, including algae blooms, ozone depletion, forest dieback, and respiratory illness. Reactive nitrogen is a common byproduct of three important processes: energy combustion, food production, and wastewater treatment.

In 2013, UVA became the first university in the nation to set an official nitrogen reduction goal: Reduce the university’s reactive nitrogen losses to the environment by 25% below 2010 levels by 2025. Continuing on its path to assess and reduce the harmful impacts of reactive nitrogen, UVA became the first university in the world to release a Nitrogen Action Plan to set forth a transparent roadmap to meet this goal. Our current goal is to reduce reactive nitrogen emissions by 30% relative to 2010 levels by 2030. 


Nitrogen footprint 2010-2017