Green Initiatives

VWCC is committed to conservation, and Facilities Management Services (FMS) and Information and Educational Technology Support (IET) are playing important roles in it.

Here are some of the initiatives we have, or are planning to implement:

Stormwater Management

Stormwater management is an important part of college conservation and sustainability. Stormwater drains capture and control surface water run-off. These drains are checked and cleaned quarterly. This water is filtered by the college's 5 rain gardens before being stored for slow release to the streams by detention ponds. One landscaped rain garden is in the center of the new Center for Science and Health Professions plaza. This building also has extensive underground rainwater detention as will Lot 15 when complete. These measures all serve to improve our environmental quality both on campus and beyond our borders. Every new construction project also has a state approved erosion and sediment control plan (E&S Plan) that is maintained by the contractor to prevent excessive sediment from leaving the site. The college maintains an MS4 permit and submits annual reports to the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Quality. Requirements and reporting are rigorous.

Mercury Recovery From Used Fluorescent Bulbs

FMS would like to offer faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to responsibly dispose of their used fluorescent bulbs. FMS has a machine that crushes the bulbs and recovers the harmful mercury inside. The machine will accept both tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs. FMS will set up this machine on the outdoor plaza of Business Science on April 22nd from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Bulbs will be accepted during this time and you can watch the process.

Note, we cannot accept or store bulbs between events or take bulbs from sources other than college employees or students. Please take advantage of this recycling opportunity.

Celebrate Green Roofs

Did you know that VWCC has 2 green roof buildings already existing on campus? You have already walked over both and didn't know it!

The Anderson Hall green roof covers 1,320 square feet on the buildings North side. It is over the entrance to the elevator at its lowest level, storage rooms, and mechanical room. There is grass and a sidewalk leading to lot 8E over this area.

At Fishburn Hall the green roof and four season's plaza cover 3,250 square feet on the buildings North and West sides. Spaces under is area include offices, break room, storage rooms, and the mechanical room.

To celebrate Earth Day and VWCC's green roofs, 12-15 new shrubs were planted on Anderson Halls green roof in the month of April, 2009.


FMS worked with Daryl (student), Jennifer (faculty), Administration, and Roanoke City Recycling for several months. As you know, the college has had severe budget cuts. So it is against this context that a plan developed for phased recycling as follows.

Phase One (voluntary recycling beginning in April): The city is to bring us city recycling cans for paper and plastic/aluminum to be placed in three locations. Current plans are to locate cans near the exterior elevator at the library for the 4 seasons; at the entrance between Duncan and Humanities; and at the end of the pedestrian alley between the bookstore and Chapman. These locations were selected for their both their accessibility to the city's recycling truck and the high pedestrian traffic flow. The intent is to ask for faculty, staff and students on campus to voluntarily bring their recyclables to these locations coming in or going out of campus. (We didn't put one in front of Business Science because of future construction in that location.)

Phase Two: When money permits, phase two is to place recycling cans inside break rooms or strategic locations in the individual buildings. Because these cans are indoors they will need to be hauled and emptied into outdoor bins which the city can access. We will need to either organize volunteers to do this work or find money to add this service to the custodial contract. This effort will require dedicated daily labor. We also have to find locations not blocking corridors, stairs or other code regulated safety features of the buildings. This Phase would also be coordinated with the Directors and Deans in each building.

We initiated Phase 1 in April, 2009 and many thanks belong to our cohorts and outside resources. Currently our sources tell us recycling is not financially self supporting or profitable. However, the benefits of recycling also have to be counted. The reuse of materials helps reduce the demand on new resources and recycled content is kept out of the landfill which will improve the landfills sustainability. Aside from the intrinsic benefit to VWCC in helping the environment, we may be able to decrease our volume of regular trash which would, to some extent, decrease our current waste management fees. Perhaps we can see by how much and retain this money for a contribution to the cost of phase two. We did find out that our current waste management company recycles cardboard from our debris. This was verified by the City. Also, it might interest you to know that when we do renovations we recycle what we able. The new building being planned will meet LEED Silver standards. It will have recycling and other environmentally friendly features built into the design.

Power to Computers

Analysis of computer labs in sleep mode at night has revealed significant cumulative power usage. By shutting off power to these computers between 10:30 PM and 6:30 AM the savings in electrical use amounts to approximately $25,000 to $30,000 a year. FMS and IET have teamed to provide control system capable of powering down computer labs and capture this energy savings. Those with offices can do their part on a volunteer basis by making sure their computer, monitor and peripherals are shut down when not in use. It is estimated this could enable VWCC to capture an additional $25,000 in savings/energy/consumption reduction.

Solar Panels Planned for VWCC

As part of T.A.C. energy management improvements, VWCC opted to include a project which includes solar panels on the roof of one of our buildings. Payback is long but these panels will be capable of providing sufficient power to run the buildings fluorescent lights. The overall project will include an upgrade to north campus mechanical systems to provide energy efficient digital controls. These improvements will reduce consumption and increase energy efficiency.

Other Green Notes

VWCC Bus Stop Shelter: FMS partnered with Roanoke Transit Authority to have a new bus shelter at Colonial Ave and McNeil eastbound. The shelter will encourage use of public transportation. The shelter arrived this week and will be installed soon.

FMS is investigating cost vs value of LED parking lot lights.

The Chancellor has announced a "Green Task Force": This task force has had its first meeting and good things will be forthcoming.


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