Solar panels

Green with Envy: Princeton Review again names UR one of the nation's greenest colleges

October 28, 2020

University News

The Princeton Review launched its annual Guide to Green Colleges in 2010 — and UR has again been selected, as it has since the list’s inception. Named one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, Richmond is recognized for its strong commitment to sustainability and environmentally-conscious initiatives.

UR’s Sustainability Plan was adopted last year and serves as a blueprint for how the campus community will continue to integrate sustainability into the fabric of the University.

“Our biggest priority is to be a good steward of our campus, community, and greater Richmond area,” said Sustainability Director Rob Andrejewski. “We aim to create conditions that foster the well-being of both people and the natural world now and into the future.”

High-profile projects like the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor and the University’s second solar project, a large-scale array coming in January 2021, are early signs of success, he said. Other initiatives in less visible locations, such as Dining Services’ reusable bag program and the adoption of battery-powered landscape equipment, are additional threads of sustainability. 

The Eco-Corridor was completed earlier this year and includes a stream restoration, native species planting, stormwater management, and a refurbishment of a hiking and biking path. The area acts as a living laboratory for sustainability — more than a dozen different classes use it for experiential learning.

“We have a responsibility to include students in the development of sustainability solutions,” Andrejewski said. “By providing hands-on experience with sustainability challenges, our students are better positioned to contribute to innovative solutions to similar challenges on the job and in their communities after graduation.” 

Previous UR sustainability projects include the first solar array project installed in Virginia under a 2013 General Assembly program. As a result, nearly 750 panels were installed on the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness’ rooftop. Additionally, UR is one of 98 Bee Campus USA affiliates, which acknowledges the University's efforts to make campus landscapes conducive for pollinators. UR has two beehives and several pollinator gardens.

Schools are selected for the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges based on data from student surveys about the influence of sustainability issues on their education and life on campus; administration and student support for environmental awareness and conservation efforts; and the visibility and impact of student environmental groups. 

A comprehensive list of Earth friendly initiatives can be found on UR’s sustainability site.