UVA Working to Reduce Nitrogen 'Footprint'

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Forum on nitrogen emission levels at the University of Virginia Forum on nitrogen emission levels at the University of Virginia
Elizabeth Castner Elizabeth Castner

The University of Virginia is the first university to calculate how much nitrogen its emitting.

Now, UVA is taking steps to reduce those emission.

A program at the university is looking at the nitrogen levels that are released by using resources like energy and food to get a number that shows how much impact an institution has.

Colleges and universities from Canada, the Netherlands, and all over the United States have followed in UVA's footsteps to calculate their own “footprints” on the environment.

The UVA Nitrogen Working Group held a public forum Wednesday, June 7, to talk about the university’s impact.

"Looking at nitrogen gives us a window into the environmental impact that's not provided by other sustainability indicators," said Elizabeth Castner.

The group said numbers indicate UVA is one of the worst offenders among schools participating in the program.

Higher numbers mean more potential for things like smog - which can cause health problems - and impact runoff into the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The program is helping work toward sustainability goals that will help lower those numbers.

The University of Virginia hopes to reduce its nitrogen footprint by 25 percent by the year 2025.

UVA says it is already taking steps toward this goal, such as offering lower impact foods in dining halls, like chicken, fish and greens instead of beef.