VCU's green initiatives may attract students

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – You probably never realized how energy inefficient a regular trash can is. Someone has to come empty it every day, even if it's not full and the trash inside can take up a lot space, both in a garbage truck and in a landfill. But at VCU, their cutting edge trash cans are making a big difference.

"Basically what you are looking at is the smartest trash can in the word, basically," said VCU Sustainability Coordinator Jordan Starbuck.

This isn't just a trash can-- it's a trash compactor. And no power cord is needed. This can uses solar power, and cloudy days are no problem.

"When it gets full, it reaches a certain line, and triggers the compactor which then starts the motor, and it compacts the trash down," Starbuck said.

And when the compactor can't take any more trash it sends a text message to headquarters. It only needs emptying about once every 5 days - saving 80% on labor cost and fuel use.

It's just one of the projects of VCU's Sustainability Office. Coordinator Jordan Starbuck says it's not just about saving the environment. The school also hopes it will be attractive to potential students- since many look at how green a university is.

And VCU is making the grade on its green report card.

"We're the only university in Virginia to get an A of any type-- we're top 8% south top 16% in country. It's a really big deal," she said.

A big deal made out of small steps, like installing the water bottle-refiller. That means no more buying energy intensive bottled water at stores.

What's next for VCU? Electric charging stations for cars in parking garages, more bike racks, more green buildings, all to use fewer natural resources while attracting students with their eye on the environment. 

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