Welcome UVA Students! Here’s the 411 on Local Climate Action

photo courtesy of UVA Office of Sustainability

photo courtesy of UVA Office of Sustainability


Each year, the University of Virginia brings thousands of new faces to Charlottesville. Whether you are a first-year, transfer, or graduate student, it might feel overwhelming to try and learn the ins and outs of such a culturally and naturally rich city. 

So let the C3 team get you caught up on all things climate action in Charlottesville! 

Climate Action Planning

The City of Charlottesville 

1. Carbon Neutrality Goal

The first thing you should know is that on July 1, 2019, Charlottesville became the first city in the Commonwealth of Virginia to commit to carbon neutrality! The Charlottesville City Council voted to adopt a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 45% by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. This is a huge win locally, regionally, and nationally, as Charlottesville joins an elite group of only 10 localities with reported community-wide carbon-neutrality goals.* 

2. Housing Voucher Incentive & Energy Efficiency Pilot

Another important action the City and collaborators, such as C3 and LEAP, have taken to combat climate change is the creation of an energy equity and affordable housing initiative, called VEEP. In the coming months, the City plans to run a pilot program that will reward landlords with forgivable loans up to $10,000 for energy efficient upgrades to their rental units, such as LED lighting or HVAC upgrade, in exchange for a commitment to accepting housing vouchers for five years. 

Albemarle County

1. Preliminary Climate Action Plan 

Albemarle County is currently in Phase 1 of Climate Action Planning. This phase of planning includes formulating high-level goals focused on addressing climate change and ensuring community resiliency. The vote on the initial plan is slated for September 4th. 

2. Climate Mondays

Albemarle County recently concluded their Climate Monday series. Staff members will be presenting their work at the September 4th Board of Supervisors Meeting. The meeting will take place in  in the Lane Auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building (401 McIntire Rd.). County residents can sign up to deliver a 3-minute comment to urge the County to adopt a strong plan. Please email Caetano@cvilleclimate.org if you are interested or simply come 15 minutes prior to the meeting and use the public comment paper sign-in sheet. 

University of Virginia

1. 2030 Strategic Plan 

The University of Virginia recently released its 2030 Strategic Plan to serve as a roadmap for the future of UVA. C3 founder, Grey McLean, analyzed the new plan and shared how sustainability is “effectively and organically woven throughout the Plan.” For more information about how the University is pursuing environmental sustainability and resilience, check out Grey’s article for Wahoos for Sustainability. 

2. UVA Office of Sustainability’s Next Phase of Climate Action 

The University is entering its final year of the 2016-2020 Sustainability Plan, a comprehensive set of objectives created to ensure “the vitality of our environment, health and investments, both locally and globally.” The plan is centered around three themes: Engage, Steward, and Discover. The 2018-2019 annual report shared the progress made in each of these categories in the past year. All reports can be found here. 

Photo from 2018-2019 UVA Sustainability Annual Report---Goals & Progress

Photo from 2018-2019 UVA Sustainability Annual Report---Goals & Progress

Recycling & Compost

On Grounds

UVA makes recycling on-grounds easy, as nearly all buildings have co-located bins. Look out for the blue bin, which accepts plastic, metal, and glass items such as water bottles, cans, glass bottles, plastic bags, aluminum foil, and coffee lids and sleeves. The green bin accepts paper and cardboards that are not food-saturated. 

Photo from UVA Recycling Facebook

Photo from UVA Recycling Facebook

In addition to class and office buildings, recycling is available in dorms and residential colleges. Each dorm room is issued a two-bin stackable unit. The blue bins are for plastics, metals and glass, and the green are for paper and cardboard. Here is a guide from UVA’s Office of Sustainability to familiarize yourself with green living. 

Composting options on-Grounds are not as prevalent as the recycling options, but options are still plentiful. Right now, nearly 20 UVA Dining locations offer back-of-house composting. On-grounds meals at West Range, the Fine Arts Cafe, and the Castle can be composted with the front-of-house composting bin. 

Furthermore, last year, UVA started a bathroom paper towel composting pilot, so be on the lookout for the possible expansion of that program this year. 

Quick Tip: UVA Dining facilities offer compostable to-go containers AND reusable plastic containers. We recommend utilizing these reusable to-go containers since front-of-house composting is so limited. Just ask for a free reusable container and return the box after your use. Dining staff washes and sanitizes it upon return.


For those of you living off-grounds, things may seem a bit complicated. The University of Virginia is located mostly within the City of Charlottesville; however, if you are a graduate student, you might live in Albemarle County. Recycling options differ between municipalities. 

The City of Charlottesville 

The City of Charlottesville offers a free bi-weekly, curbside, single-stream recycling program for residents. This guide provides the most up-to-date list of items that can go into your recycling bin. For more information visit the City of Charlottesville’s recycling webpage

As for composting, the City of Charlottesville is currently piloting a residential compost drop-off program. To learn more about how to join this program, check out their webpage. Other drop-off locations include the City Market every Saturday Mornings, April - October, or McIntire Recycling Center

In addition to food waste compost, the McIntire Recycling Center is an awesome resource for those living in an apartment complex that does not provide a recycling option. Many of the apartment complexes, especially behind the Corner, use a private dumpster system. If your building does not recycle or the recycling system seems questionable, the best option is to sort your  recyclables according to this guide, and drop them off at McIntire. 

Albemarle County 

The County has a different approach to recycling services than the City. Rather providing curbside recycling services, residents must contact a private hauler (we have a list of them in our blog) . Additionally, the County provided a comprehensive guide of drop-off recycling options. For more info, definitely check out our blog about recycling in Cville.

Community Groups & Resources  

Additionally, here are a variety of great local organizations and resources related to environmental stewardship and sustainability that you can become involved in!


The Charlottesville Climate Collaborative (C3) 

Wild Virginia

Piedmont Environmental Council

Sierra Club (Piedmont Group) 

Indivisible Charlottesville

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rivanna Trails Foundation

Other Great Local Resources: 

Better World Betty 

LEAP - the Local Energy Alliance Program

City Farmers Market 

Best Hikes in Cville 

Buy Fresh Buy Local Guide 

Quick Tip: Looking for an Environmental or Communications Internship for the semester? C3 is looking for four college students to join our team for Fall 2019! Learn more here.

Photo courtesy of UVA Office of Sustainability

Photo courtesy of UVA Office of Sustainability


UVA Groups and Resources 



Sustainability Advocates 

Green Greeks 

Green Grounds 


Greens to Grounds 

Office of Sustainability 

Environmental Resilience Institute 

Morven Estate


Undergraduate Majors/Minors:

Global Environments and Sustainability

Environmental Science 

Global Sustainability (Minor)

UVA Sustainability Plan

ROSE Program

Quick Tip: In need of school supplies? Head over to ROSE, UVA’s Reusable Office Supply Exchange! The ROSE program collects gently-used supplies from students and departments and makes them available for FREE to the community! ROSE is located in the Recycling Building at the end of Leake Drive, near OHILL dining hall.

It’s an exciting time to both a UVA student and a part of the larger Charlottesville community!

See you on Grounds!

—Isabel Kezman, C3 Summer Intern