It’s not easy being green, but UVA is getting higher marks for its environmentally friendly programs.

After receiving a D+ in 2007 on the College Sustainability Report Card, the University raised its grade to a B- in the 2008 report, then got a solid B in the 2009 edition. That places UVA at the top of the class among the schools in the Old Dominion that participate in the rankings.

During a “trash audit” of a Sponsor’s Hall dumpster, Darden students discovered that nearly half of its contents were recyclable. Jack Looney

The largest strides came in the food and recycling category, for which UVA received a D in 2007 and an A this year.

Dining halls have eliminated trays, thanks to a student-led initiative aimed at reducing trash and conserving water. Menus also emphasize more local foods.

“You need less energy to transport [local food]. It protects the environment, and it gives money to local farmers,” Andrew Greene, the sustainability planner in the UVA architect’s office, said at a community briefing on sustainability in September.

Greene explained that sustainability is measured in terms of equity, economics and the environment. “It is sustainable if it satisfies all three,” he said.

UVA transportation officials have implemented a system designed to reduce the number of single-occupant cars at the University. Ridership has increased on University buses, and car and van pools as well as bicycling are being encouraged, Rebecca White, UVA’s director of parking and transportation, said at the briefing.

At the Darden School of Business, students got down and dirty in their first “trash audit,” or Dumpster Dive, on Oct. 2. They climbed into a bin, removed garbage, then sorted the recyclable material by categories. About half the waste proved to be recyclable.

The trash audit was part of an effort by Darden to become a zero-waste school by 2020. Another “dive” is planned this spring.