The Georgia Institute of Technology has received the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award. This is the first year this prestigious award is being given to institutes of higher education. Recipients are awarded based on their commitment to and demonstration of innovative efforts to reduce utility costs and environmental impact, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
“We are very pleased to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for our efforts to create a more sustainable and healthier campus,” said Steve Swant, executive vice president of Administration and Finance. “For many years, Tech has practiced what we preach. We have data-driven, sustainable initiatives across campus, ranging from studying efficient energy utilization in the classroom to the programs we implement to keep our campus clean and healthy. Without this type of long-term commitment, we simply couldn’t achieve these results.”
Energy and Environmental Impact:
Notable undertakings include Georgia Tech’s signing of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007 to publicly commit to reduce energy consumption, expand use of renewable energy sources, and become carbon neutral by 2050. The ACUPCC, a signature program of Second Nature, was updated in 2015 and is now known as the Carbon Commitment. Since taking the pledge, the Institute has made strides toward this goal: Greenhouse gas emissions per every 1,000 square feet have been reduced by roughly 8 percent since 2011 — despite the addition of state-of-the-art research facilities with high energy requirements.
Other celebrated initiatives include Georgia Tech’s commitment — supported by a $30 million grant from The Kendeda Fund — to build what is expected to be the most environmentally advanced education and research building ever constructed in the Southeast. Also in 2015, the Institute’s Green Cleaning Program was honored with the American School & University magazine’s 2015 Annual Green Cleaning Award. In addition, Tech’s Green Cleaning Program was recently certified by Green Seal for its leadership in sustainable cleaning. This is a nationally recognized certification awarded for protecting human health and the environment.
Health and Wellness:
For more than 20 years, Georgia Tech has offered a variety of programs to support the health and wellness of the campus community. This past year, the Institute formed the Center for Community Health and Well-Being to unify wellness programs across campus. Staff and faculty also benefit from a comprehensive benefits package with options to meet a variety of needs, and an assistance program for maintaining work-life balance. Students, too, have access to services that support physical and mental well-being, including a peer counseling program and “G.I.T. FIT” (Georgia Institute of Technology Fitness).
Lastly, the Institute is being recognized for its campuswide academic initiative, Serve-Learn-Sustain, which is designed to equip students to address sustainability challenges and community-level needs in their professional and civic lives. Potential outcomes include developing services for the underserved, deploying renewable energy in communities, supporting infrastructure for clean water, and developing local, state, and federal environmental policy.
Across the country, a total of 47 schools, 15 districts, and 11 postsecondary institutions are being honored. An official ceremony is being conducted on July 20 in Washington, D.C. Georgia Tech is the only institution of higher education in the state of Georgia to receive this award.
For more information, including details on U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honorees, visit the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools website.