Tech helps launch “green” vision

Tech has recently been named as a founding partner for Mission Zero, an online community that offers a place to share ideas and ask questions about sustainability issues. The goal of the website is to provide resources for companies interested in taking steps to become zero waste or carbon neutral. Moreover, it is a place for interested participants to learn about sustainability practices and how to implement them.

This resource was developed by Interface Inc., a local Atlanta company and leading manufacturer in the carpet industry. The idea for Mission Zero was conceived by Ray Anderson, a Tech alumnus and founder of Interface Inc. Anderson is also recognized as a pioneer in the sustainability field and was one of the first company executives who sought to make his company zero waste.

“Mission Zero provides a base for companies to put out their goals for the world to see and to become more environmentally sustainable by forming ideas through networking and discussion,” said Sarah Mallory, Student Communications Director for GreenBuzz, an on-campus sustainability resource.

Mallory said that individuals play a critical role in the project by asking questions and helping the community come up with answers.

The Mission Zero website includes a comprehensive news section that offers information on topics such as agriculture, design and environmental policy. The site also includes a mechanism for groups to take on smaller goals, or “missions,” such as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

In addition, the site includes a social networking component where individuals, as well as members, can participate in group discussions to share ideas and ask specific questions.

“The more information and in- teraction there is on the site, the more global support it will attract, so that more people can join and make positive change happen,” Mallory said.

According to Mallory, Mission Zero was a logical step for Tech after GreenBuzz was developed in early 2008. She said that Tech strengthens its position in the sus- tainability field by participating in the project. In fact, Tech was the only university invited to be a part of Mission Zero.

“Interface approached Tech because of its research efforts in the field of sustainability and its track record on environmental issues,” said Terry Blum, Professor in the College of Management and an initial point of contact for Mission Zero.

“We are especially excited about the students getting involved. This next generation is critical to maintaining the momentum that has been started,”

said Joyce LaVelle, senior vice president of marketing for InterfaceFLOR. “We sought out leaders who will contribute valuable information to the site and be able to recruit their own stakeholders… to build and sustain the community.”

In the early stages of the project, Tech played a mainly advisory role on how to build the community and raise the project’s visibility. According to Mallory, the next step would be attracting faculty, staff and students to get involved in the mission as well as to suggest possible improvements to the website.

Interface Inc. plans to step away from the project once the final version of the site is released. Afterwards, the site will be run by the community alone.

“Anyone anywhere can participate, which is so exciting to us because it is the community, not In terface, who will determine where this will go,” LaVelle said.