Leading in Sustainability

For the second year in a row, Tech was named to the Princeton Review’s sustainability Honor Roll. The Institute landed in the top 15 with a perfect score, in no particular order. Tech also had the distinction of being the only school from the Southeast to receive this recognition.

“This is not the first time that our sustainability efforts have been recognized and certainly recognition isn’t the most important thing, but Tech is regarded as a leader across the country when it comes to sustainability, thanks to the dedicated work of students, faculty and staff,” said Sarah Mallory, the Student Communications Director for GreenBuzz, an on-campus sustainability resource.

Among the reasons for this honor is Tech’s commitment to sustainable education. The Institute has had a long standing commitment for every student to take at least one course related to sustainability during their time at Tech. Architecture, for example, provides numerous courses on sustainable building and urban planning.

“From engineering to the liberal arts, departments across campus are making an effort to increase sustainability through ground breaking research. That’s one thing that students can get involved in just by talking to a professor,” Mallory said.

Research into sustainable technologies across all majors and disciplines is a major aspect of sustainability on campus. Dr. John-Paul Clarke, an AE associate professor, and his team came up with the idea of a continuous descent flight that could save over $80 million dollars per year in fuel costs.

Aside from the academic initiatives, various departments on campus have made sustainability a priority. Dining hopes to begin composting its waste and move completely to tray-less dining. Nearly every residence hall has access to a recycling center. This coming football season, they hope to add game-day recycling inside the stadium. This past year, the recycling department collected over 10 tons of game-day recycling outside the stadium alone.

Student collaboration with departments across campus has also led to numerous sustainability programs. For example, a student led push to expand the Sustainable Move-Out Initiative led to collection of over two tons of food. A student organization called Students Organizing for Sustainability has worked together with Dining to reduce their water usage dramatically over several years.

“When students come up with an idea to encourage sustainability we really support them to go out and try to achieve that. There are plenty of examples on campus where student initiatives have led to a more sustainable campus,” Mallory said.

Sustainable buildings are another reason why Tech is recognized as a national leader on sustainability issues. The Institute is committed to sustainability in its buildings by requiring all new and renovation projects to follow LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Currently, Tech has ten buildings that are LEED certified including one gold certified building, the Klaus Advanced Computing Center.

Tech has also partnered with community organizations in the Atlanta area as well as participated in nation-wide initiatives to spread sustainable practices. Tech was recently named a founding partner for Mission Zero, an online resource where individuals and businesses can share ideas and tips on how to make their homes and businesses more sustainable. Tech was the only university on the founding panel.

“When you look around, whether you know it or not, you are part of a sustainable campus,” said Mallory. She hopes that sustainability efforts will continue to grow and that students continue to come up with new ideas to improve sustainability on campus.

“There is so much going on campus related to sustainability and students can get involved simply by asking around or talking to a professor,” Mallory said.