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Environmental programs updated

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 02 - August 31, 1995

Earlier in the summer, an announcement was made of the availability of final reports submitted by two of the five working groups appointed during 1994/95 to examine Virginia Tech's environmental programs (see Spectrum, 6-29 for summaries).

In one of the reports, a proposal was made for the establishment of a new interdisciplinary undergraduate major, tentatively called Environmental Policy and Planning. The other report called for a new graduate option (certificate) in Environmental Studies to be offered. More recently, the final report of the working group on "Virginia Tech as an Environmental Role Model" was made available. A summary is provided below.

Copies of all reports may be viewed as follows: (1) In Newman Library (entitled "Environmental Studies at Virginia Tech: Working Group Reports 1995," on two-hour reserve under "miscellaneous"); (2) On the World Wide Web, presently as a pilot at http://www.vt.edu:10021/admin/provost/; (3) As personal copies, obtainable electronically (please specify word-processing format) or on paper from W. David Conn, Special Assistant to the Provost (conn@vt.edu or mail code 0132).

The contents of all of the reports are presented almost exactly as they were submitted. As of now, neither the University Committee on Environmental Studies (UCES) nor the Provost's Office has taken any action on them. You are invited to contribute to an open discussion by sending written comments to Conn, preferably before September 29 (after which further action is anticipated). Please say if you feel that a workshop or forum would be useful.



The Environmental Role Model Working Group was established by the UCES and began meeting in April 1995. The group was charged with preparing a concrete proposal to promote Virginia Tech as a role model for environmentally responsible behavior and leadership.

Two guiding principles emerged and became the framework of the working group proposal. First, Virginia Tech was viewed on a very broad scope encompassing all aspects of the university community; academic, research, physical plant operations, faculty and student life, etc. Second, recommendations were linked with the university goals outlined in the Phase II restructuring plan. Six recommendations were created to complement and to enhance Virginia Tech's expectation to become the model land-grant university of the 21st century .


1) Statement of Policy: The working group exhorts the administration to endorse a concise, fundamental policy statement on environmental studies and responsibility, recognized and endorsed by President Paul Torgersen and the Board of Visitors.

2) Environmental/Energy Audit: The working group supports the UCES recommendation of conducting an Environmental/Energy Audit. The audit will serve as a data-collection mechanism to determine the quantity and quality of the waste stream and energy use. The group proposes that the audit be conducted using existing university expertise, perhaps as a project conducted by graduate and upper-level undergraduate students supervised by expert faculty members. The College of Engineering's Green Engineering Initiative is one source of partial funding for conducting audits.

3) University Outreach: The working group recommends making the promotion and recognition of new, innovative, or noteworthy environmental research, instruction, operations, etc. practiced at Virginia Tech a high priority. A committee should be established for this purpose and utilize the existing communication and public-relations infrastructure of Virginia Tech.

4) Incorporate University Environmental Goals into Campus Life: The working group contends that environmental stewardship and sound resource management should be actively promoted and demonstrated across the campus. Therefore, another function of the committee recommended in item #3 is to facilitate the communication of ideas and promote environmental responsibility at Virginia Tech via a regular column in various student and local publications, as well as electronically (Internet, BevNet).

5) Address Counter-Productive Regulatory and Administrative Procedures: Establish an ad-hoc committee on waste reduction and recycling to address counter-productive environmental regulations and administrative procedures, investigate problems, assist in loosening of appropriate regulations and facilitate cost-effective solutions.

6) Establish a Standing Committee to Implement Goals: The working group recommends the formation of a standing committee designed to address areas of concern in a comprehensive manner and to implement the previous five recommendations. The standing committee would also serve as a future clearing house for ideas and information about environmental programs, policy, outreach, problem solving, etc. at Virginia Tech.

(Provided by W. David Conn, Special Assistant to the Provost, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0132, USA. E-mail: conn@vt.edu Tel: (540) 231-6122 or -7508 Fax: (540) 231-7211)