UVA Darden Unveils 2030 Sustainability Goals
By Dave Hendrick
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business today announced a series of rigorous sustainability goals intended to fortify the School’s leadership position in the sustainability arena. The plan offers a comprehensive, actionable framework for the School to achieve the new goals by the close of the decade. Critically, it addresses not only Darden’s operation, but also keeps sustainability at the center of the curriculum.
The 2030 goals build on Darden’s previous successes, including achieving carbon neutrality in 2019 through a partnership with UVA and Dominion Energy to purchase power from the Hollyfield Solar Plant. Darden is one of the first top business schools to reach net-zero emissions. For its efforts and educational offerings, Financial Times named the School the No. 1 MBA for Corporate Social Responsibility in 2019.
In addition to taking a leadership stance on a critical global issue, the new goals reflect the ambition of Darden’s diverse stakeholders — including faculty, staff and alumni as well as current and prospective students. They are designed to build resiliency and reduce operating expense at the School.
They also align with the UVA Sustainability Plan led by the University Committee on Sustainability.
“A best-in-class business school must show leadership on issues of global concern, and few issues are more pressing than practicing and achieving true sustainability,” said Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer Mike Lenox. “While sustainability principles are incorporated into how we teach and learn at Darden, measurable environmental sustainability goals must be central to our mission: to inspire the next generation of leaders.”
Guiding Principles and Goals for 2030
The goals are the result of nearly a year of work by a committee of Darden faculty members, staff and students. Two overarching targets for 2030 guided the committee’s recommendations:
- Darden will continue to be a preeminent educator and thought leader in sustainability, innovating new offerings and scholarship.
- Darden will live its values, minimizing its footprint while helping its community flourish.
A series of additional goals addresses specific issues such as carbon emissions, waste, curriculum development and faculty scholarship. Aspirations for 2030 include:
- Identify, reduce, and offset greenhouse gas emissions to continue operating at net-zero emissions as the School grows
- Electrify all current fossil fuel infrastructure on Darden Grounds in Charlottesville
- Reduce water use by 30 percent from 2010 levels
- Reduce waste to landfill to 30 percent of 2010 levels
- Sustainably source 50 percent of food served at Darden
- Increase supplier diversity through additional purchases from local, small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses
- Eliminate single-use plastics, such as bottled water
- Develop 100 new teaching cases and notes on sustainability topics
- Publish 100 new research articles on sustainability topics
- Deliver 100 courses on sustainability topics
Other actions may include the creation of new experiential courses, a new dual-degree program, scholarships for students with sustainability interests, new case competitions and awards for sustainability leaders within the Darden enterprise, and more.
Formation of a New Sustainability Council
To put the plan in motion, Darden is building a new sustainability council composed of students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees. The Council, led by Professor Carolyn Miles (MBA ’88), is an oversight and advisory team that will meet regularly, help keep the sustainability plan on track and provide support to make sure the School achieves its ambitious goals.
School leaders will also issue an annual sustainability report.
Current resources and initiatives at Darden include:
- More than 180 teaching cases related to environmental sustainability from Darden BusinessPublishing
- Research initiatives on global water and business innovation and climate change
- Thought leadership collection on Darden Ideas to Action
- 20 courses in the current MBA curriculum
- Numerous sustainability-related student clubs
New LEED-Certified Hotel to Open in 2023
A new hotel and conference center, which will be completed in 2023, will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and surrounded by a five-acre arboretum and botanical gardens. The project calls for the planting of 1,300 trees, and supporters of Darden are able to name a tree through a new fundraising initiative to create a healthy landscape and greener Darden for years to come. “We believe these ambitious goals are the right thing to do, make sense and build upon the strong position and initiatives of the School in this arena over the past several years,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “Going forward, this will be a competitive advantage as we seek to attract the best students and faculty members from around the globe. The goals are consistent with our academic mission and values and demonstrate responsible leadership.”
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia