Sustainability Assessment

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Responsible and innovative measures to minimize Old Dominion University's ecological footprint.

The Facilities Management & Construction (FMC) Department at Old Dominion helps to actively promote sustainability efforts on campus.

Our vision is to minimize our ecological footprint, and to become a leader to other higher education institutions and in the surrounding community. Innovative implementation of this set of commonplace, responsible measures and values demonstrates our commitment to leadership in sustainability.

Land Use & Built Environment

Our Storm Water Management Plan ensures that the campus meets DCR regulatory requirements which ensure that construction activities in environmentally sensitive areas are conducted in a manner that will protect and improve water quality, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay. Learn More►

Engineering and Computational Sciences Building is the First LEED Certified Building

There is also an established rain garden at Engineering and Computational Sciences building.

Best management Practices (BMP'S) at Oceanography and at Teletechnet

FMC works to review building designs that will meet environmentally friendly standards set by the U.S Green Building Council. USGBC LEED certification is expected for all new and renovated building projects.

Sustainable site: The building integrates bicycle storage areas and alternative fuel recharging stations for futuristic vehicles. Rainwater collected on the roof will filter through on-site rock and plant gardens.

Water efficiency: Native, drought-resistant plants and efficient drip irrigation will reduce the amount of water needed for landscaping. Efficient plumbing systems are expected to cut water use inside the building by 20 percent.

Energy and atmosphere: Increased insulation, external sun-shading, windows that increase day-lighting and other innovations that increase the efficiency of mechanical systems should cut the building's energy demands by 20 percent.

Materials and resources: The building was constructed with increased amounts of salvaged, certified, recycled and rapidly renewable materials. Also, the university recycled 50 percent of construction debris.

In-door environmental quality: Air quality management controls keep contaminants out of the heating and air conditioning systems. The building is smoke-free.

Engineering and Computational Sciences Building Rain Garden

There is an established rain garden at Engineering and Computational Sciences building.

  • It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns.
  • Rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff.
  • Compared to a conventional lawn, rain gardens allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground.

Landscape Design, Irrigation & Maintenance

Bermuda sod is used throughout the majority of the campus due to its ability to survive during the drought months.

In 2008 many irrigation systems were not turned on in established areas due to landscapes low water requirements. In general it takes about two years with irrigation for plants to get established. Once established the irrigation is turned off except when landscape plant material are threatened to die. Most Bermuda lawns go dormant in extreme drought but recover once there is rainfall. Irrigation systems are equipped with rain gages that will not allow the system to come on when there is adequate rain fall.

Nutrient management planning seeks to address nonpoint source pollution by reducing the potential for runoff and leaching of nutrients.

  • Our management plan identifies the areas on campus that receive low phosphate or NO phosphate fertilizers.
  • Phosphate fertilizers can get into our rivers.
  • This type of algae has caused algal blooms in Virginia waters during previous years. It turns the water a reddish-brown color and is commonly referred to as a "mahogany tide."
  • Phosphates promote algae growth, which appears as scum on the surface of water. The algae plants die and sink to the bottom of the river. When they decompose, they use up the oxygen in the water, suffocating other plant and animal species.

Organic controls as an alternative to Pesticides:

The use of dormant oils and insecticidal soaps to combat insects is being used in order to alleviate the use of more potent insecticide and are safer for the environment. The oils and soaps smother insects or provide a mechanical barrier to prevent damage. The use of microorganisms and microbial products are also used to combat plant diseases.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a pest control strategy that uses a variety of complementary strategies including: mechanical devices, physical devices, genetic, biological, cultural management, and chemical management. These methods are done in three stages: prevention, observation, and intervention. It is an ecological approach with a main goal of significantly reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides while at the same time managing pest populations at an acceptable level.

  • With regular inspections, our Pesticide Technician can observe plant material to see if treatment is necessary. If no pests are found then there is no treatment. Insect traps are used in garden areas to monitor pest infestations.
  • Pest management sometimes seems especially challenging for farmers dedicated to sustainable, low-input practices.
  • The use of insecticides can kill bees and may be a cause of pollinator decline. The loss of pollinators could mean a reduction in crop yields..

Energy Use & Water Management

  • Buildings on campus are controlled by a computerized energy management system. This system allows for constant monitoring and adjusts temperatures when buildings are not occupied during evenings and weekends.
  • Replacement of old boilers with more efficient units reduces energy consumption throughout the year.
  • Solar bollards are used on the grounds of the new Physical Science Building and at the new Indoor Tennis Center walkway, provide lighting with connection to the power utility.
  • The Housing Department is replacing old appliances with Energy Star appliances.
  • We are planning to install energy-saving occupancy sensors throughout buildings which will result in savings in electricity costs.
  • We are planning the installation of occupancy sensors on lighting in classrooms, hallways, and restrooms. We have completed BAL restrooms. The savings range from 50% reduction in energy depending on location.
  • We are presently using a Chiller Plant to increase cooling efficiency for the new Student Dorms. Energy reduction is estimated to be up to 25%.
  • Old Dominion University Facilities Management has completed 90% of the retrofit to t move the campus lighting from T-12 to T-8 bulbs, as well as replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL. The T-8 system is approximately 50% more efficient and CFL's are approximately 75% more efficient.


  • Facilities participated in an energy demand response program which provided incentive for reducing energy use during peak demand hours.
  • Facilities participation in the program is expected to offset utility cost by more then $35,000.00 in 2010.


  • The level of lighting in Resident Halls is reduced during unoccupied periods (move in /move out) while maintenance is being conducted.
  • Temperatures are adjusted in order to save energy in unoccupied buildings.

Variable Frequency Drives & Cooling Towers

Old Dominion University Facilities Managements is in the process of updating / replacing cooling towers throughout the campus. One of the ways that we can increase efficiency and lower energy costs in a cooling-tower design is to utilize a variable-frequency drive (VFD) on fan motors. The fan draws ambient air in, pushing/forcing it through the tower and extracts heat from process cooling water.

Applying Variable Frequency Drives (VFD's) on cooling towers reduces energy consumption (lowers utility costs), reduces maintenance requirements (personnel & equipment replacement costs) and process water temperature stabilization are among the benefits.

As part of ODU storm-water management program, the Grounds Division monitors and cleans up trash that falls into the Storm Management Ponds. Safe use algaecides are used during the summer months to maintain algae growth and to keep algae from flowing into the storm drains that empty into our rivers. Establish sub-metering for better management and increased awareness, water is minimized. The University is pursuing initiatives to conserve water and to develop opportunities for storm water management.

We presently have two cisterns located at Foreman Field and the Runte Quad. These cisterns are used to collect rain water from roof tops and parking surfaces and are used to irrigate the landscaping around the stadium and the Runte Quad.

The cistern at the Runte Quad is a 10,000 gallon fiberglass tank, designed to irrigate the approximate 1 acre quad. It collects water from the Scotland House roof. It has a redundant feed from the municipal water system should a drought occur. There is a computerized system that tracks information about collection/usage.

The Grounds Division has established two above ground water collection system that catch water from the rain gutter. This water will be used to water flower pots on campus. There are two in place at this time.

  • 75% of shower heads in campus residences are low flow at 1.5 gallons per minute.
  • 75% of spigots in wash basins are low flow.
  • We are replacing standard water closets with water reduction water closets where applicable.
  • We are testing low flow or waterless urinals at residence halls.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycling

  • We utilize our environmental Health Department to recycle hazardous chemicals.
  • Virtually every building on campus has recycling containers for paper products, plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
  • Recycling has topped 700,000 pounds of materials, which now include white paper, colored paper, mixed paper, cardboard, steel, bottles, cans, and cooking oil. We also provide educational presentations and a number of recycling events on campus to encourage recycling.
  • We use sustainable environmentally vendors, such as Mohawk Commercial Carpets, which annually keeps over 3 billion plastic bottles out of landfills, recycling them into carpets. Mohawk offers a recovery program for broadloom or carpet tiles being removed from the university.
  • Our Motor Pool recycles used motor oil.
  • We coordinate events with ODU's Student National Environmental Health Association, such as electronics recycling drives.
  • The Grounds Division uses recycled wood chips from ODU storm damaged trees.
  • We have begun to replace paper towels dispensers with automated hand drier. This is a paper towel cost savings and labor saving.
  • FMC installs Certified Recycled mulch that is used in the playgrounds at Child Study and Child Development Centers.

Waste Disposal

Facilities has installed a 40 cubic yard compactor on site to remove waste from the campus. The compactor was installed to eliminate our waste from going to the landfill, decomposing and creating methane and carbon dioxide.

The waste from this compactor is taken to a Solid Waste Processing plant where through operations at the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Plant and Power Plant, SPSA processes waste into fuel which is burned to create steam and electricity. In addition to refuse derived fuel production, non-processable waste and reject materials are removed from the RDF Plant waste stream, and ferrous metals and aluminum cans are separated for recycling.

Methane gas is bad for the environment because methane is particularly potent among the group of greenhouse gas that traps heat inside the earth's atmosphere, contributing to global warming.


Non-motorized forms of transportation at the Facilities play a critical role in accessibility to the University's Grounds.


With the recommendation we have increased the amount of bike parking around residence halls.

Housing has increase the number of front loading washers requiring less water.


Facilities Work Management department is using an online work order system that in time will eliminate the use of paper.


Housekeeping partners with a list of selected vendors who assist them on how to help the University become more cost-efficient regarding its supplies and dispensing systems. These products are ecologically friendly and health-conscious, utilizing the latest technology in the custodial industry. Some of the initiatives are already in place, while others are under evaluation for consideration for implementation.