Emory has certainly come a long way in just a couple of years.
In 2006, Emory launched the Office of Sustainability Initiatives with the intention of lessening the University’s impact on the environment. The group was tasked with establishing a farmer’s market, adapting campus dining facilities to provide healthy food choices and planting community gardens. Now it is September 2008, and these aspirations have largely been realized.
And it isn’t just us saying this. On Oct. 18, at the Georgia Conservancy’s 15th annual Eco-Benefete, Emory will be honored as the “2008 Distinguished Conservationist of the Year” as a result of Emory’s positive work in promoting the welfare of Georgia’s environment. And in its latest college rankings, the Princeton Review bestowed Emory with a “Green Rating” of 99 (out of a possible 99 points) — one of only 11 schools to receive such a mark. In particular, the Princeton Review was impressed by Emory’s Strategic Plan and its intention “to develop a model for healthy living on campus that can translate to communities around the globe.”
Sustainability initiatives at Emory have included building projects geared toward meeting LEED standards of environmental conservation, promoting the use of a shuttle system fueled completely by alternative fuels, recycling Emory’s waste stream and instituting programs such as the new weekly farmer’s market in front of Cox Hall. Emory has also built three “green” freshman dorms over the past years, which score high in terms of LEED ratings and provide incoming Emory students with a firsthand experience of how individuals can practically live in a way that supports the goals of the sustainability movement.
Also to be commended is the Bike Emory program, a collaboration between the University, Fuji Bikes and Bicycle South through which students and other members of the Emory community can borrow bikes for free and purchase bicycles for bargain prices (a bicycle and standard gear, such as a lock and helmet, come out to around $200). Thus far, the program has met with encouraging results, selling approximately 200 bicycles as of early September and generating some buzz around the community.
Despite this success, it is important to keep in mind that there is still work to be done. To an extent, the effort to create a totally “green” campus is one that is, in all likelihood, without end.
There are still many things that Emory could do to lessen the environmental footprint of the community. Emory is one of the largest consumers of energy in the area; the University should use the influence that comes from being such a large consumer to push for cleaner energy initiatives from various energy-providing entities around Atlanta. Emory could also potentially do more to support public transportation; this is still very much a commuter campus, and while Bike Emory is a step in the right direction, most of the traffic to and from Emory still comes from motor vehicles.
The recognition Emory has received in recent weeks demonstrates the extent to which the current administration has lived up to their stated objectives of re-branding Emory as a local force for good. It is our hope that, for the foreseeable future, Emory will continue to make progress along this path.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.