Catawba Sustainability Center
Virginia Tech’s Catawba Sustainability Center
is a partner-supported center whose primary mission is to achieve a better environment, sustainable
economies and vibrant communities through education, business development and support, and community
engagement. To accomplish this goal requires an approach that integrates agriculture, forestry,
engineering, tourism and recreation, water quality protection, among other disciplines.
Catawba Sustainability Center applies multidisciplinary intellectual assets to demonstrate new and
emerging opportunities such as renewable energy. For example, the Catawba Sustainability Center has
established a warm season grass demonstration site that provides opportunities for research as well as
education and outreach to landowners. The benefits of a demonstration site are threefold:
1) serve as real world demonstration for landowners that are considering establishment of warm season grass
2) showcase the environmental benefits
3) inform the development of the biomass industry and other emerging opportunities gaining momentum in Virginia.
The Catawba Sustainability Center’s warm season grass demonstration site will serve as an outdoor
laboratory to examine the impacts warm season grass whole field and buffer plantings has on water quality,
wildlife impact, as well as quantify its capacity to store carbon in the soil and the plant.
Education & Outreach
The Catawba Sustainability Center offers opportunities for engagement for college and PK-12 students,
and for landowners and other groups interested in issues related to sustainability. The warm season
grass demonstration will be used to share information about establishment, growth, management, and market
opportunities for warm season grass. The Catawba Sustainability Center offers numerous engagement
opportunities, including: landowner meetings, tours, and field trips at the Center to inform people
about the benefits and uses of warm season grasses. In an effort to provide multiple learning
opportunities the Catawba Sustainability Center has partnered with Roanoke County, Appalachian Trail
Conservancy, and the Roanoke Trail Club to build an interpretive trail system provide numerous learning
opportunities related to warm season grasses, water quality, and land use for trail users.