Emory has been named Distinguished Conservationist of the Year, a leading environmental group in Georgia announced Wednesday.
The award, given annually by the Georgia Conservancy, commends the University’s sustainability efforts, as evidenced by initiatives such as the newly constructed “green” residence halls, Few and Evans, whose residents recently boasted on their Songfest T-shirts, “It’s so easy being green.”
“At Emory, sustainability is not just an afterthought,” said Jim Stokes, president of the Georgia Conservancy. “It’s at the top of the curriculum.”
Stokes said what most impressed the Georgia Conservancy was Emory’s overall commitment and initiatives in more than just one aspect of sustainability, ranging from alternative transportation to water and energy conservation to the protection of green space.
Many of Emory’s conservation initiatives reach out to students. Freshmen living in Few and Evans had to apply to a pioneer program known as Living Green, which promotes “the three E’s: Environment, Economy and Equity.” Students in these residence programs read with the “Green Pages” program and participate in discussions about sustainability.
Posters encouraging students to turn off the lights and recycle paper used for old homework assignments adorn the walls of several other dorms.
Stokes said that out of all of Emory’s accomplishments, the vast amount of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified area was the most visible. To date, Emory is home to more LEED-certified square footage than any other college campus in the nation. Every new building on campus has already reached gold certification, and all buildings under construction are working toward certification.
A rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification is judged on such characteristics as water efficiency, transportation methods and accessibility, energy conservation, indoor and outdoor environmental quality, and innovation and design. With initiatives ranging from storm water runoffs to alternatively-fueled public transportation, Emory has made efforts in several of these categories.
Stokes said he believes Emory deserves more recognition for its sustainability efforts. This year, Emory will be honored at the Georgia Conservancy’s annual gala fundrasier, the Eco-Benefête, and join the ranks of nationally acclaimed organizations and individuals such as Atlantic Station and former President Jimmy Carter, respectively.
Stokes said that though he feels like an impressive amount is already being done, students should continue to get involved.
With small gestures such as posters on bathroom stall walls giving students water conservation suggestions and larger achievements such as LEED certifications, Emory was named one of the top 11 “Greenest” colleges in the nation in the Princeton Review’s
rankings, alongside schools such as Georgia Tech, Yale and Harvard.
According to the Princeton Review
, Emory was recognized for its emphasis on water and energy conservation, its efforts in providing sustainable and locally grown food on campus and its integration of sustainability as a top priority in both the daily lifestyle and education.
This spring, Emory plans to grow two more campus gardens, adding to the three that are already in place in front of the Depot, along Rollins Walkway and next to Cox Hall.
One of the two new gardens will be placed in front of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and will emphasize herbal and medicinal plants. The second garden, to be placed in front of the Center for Science Education, will be known as the “Great Foods in Science” garden.
— Contact Alice Chen