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Emory's Commitment to Sustainability

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In light of Emory's commitment to positive transformation in the world and the University's influence on the surrounding community, Emory has identified sustainability as one of its top priorities.

What began years ago as a recycling program, Emory's sustainability vision has grown and now seeks to restore our global ecosystem, foster healthy living, and reduce the University's impact on the local environment. The University has identified a number of programs to focus efforts. These areas include: Click on each program above and learn more about its importance in the broad context of sustainability and Emory's efforts.

Green Building/Green Space

Why this is important?
According to Southface Energy Institute, the construction, operation and maintenance of buildings produces close to 48 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making green building one of the most important things an institution can do to reduce its carbon footprint and impact on air quality.

What is Emory doing to help?
LEED Building
Emory has pledged to build all new buildings to the high standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Buildings on campus with LEED designation save energy and water, feature improved air quality, are sited appropriately such as in areas with public transportation, and are constructed using a percentage of recycled, local, or rapidly renewable building materials. For example, the paint and carpet of the LEED-certified Winship Cancer Institute, a building dedicated to fighting cancer, is free of known or potential carcinogens.

Preserving Green Space
Though it seems like Emory's campuses are continually under construction and expanding, Emory's Atlanta campus is mainly green space and includes some of the most biodiverse forest inside Atlanta's I-285 perimeter. In 2004, Emory's trustees passed a Land Use Classification Plan that has designated 54 percent of Emory's 700-acre Atlanta campus as protected green space where there can be no new construction. And, Emory has a "No Net Loss of Forest Canopy Policy" that requires new trees be replanted to replace those removed to maintain the same forest canopy. Emory conducts aerial flyovers to make sure the forest canopy is being preserved.
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Sustainable Food

Why is this important?
Currently, a piece of food in America travels an average of 1,500 miles before landing on a plate. Closing the gap from farm to table is one of Emory's priorities to further reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to promoting health and wellness.

What is Emory doing to help?
Emory has set an aggressive goal to acquire 75 percent of all food in our hospitals and cafeterias from local or sustainably-grown sources by 2015. A new Emory Farm Liaison works with local suppliers to remove hurdles to the local food supply, encourages increased production and ensures fair working conditions. Seven sustainability gardens across campus demonstrate home growing, and a weekly farmers market brings in local products. All of these initiatives make stronger connections between the beginning and the end of the food chain.
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Water Conservation

Why is this important?
During the drought that Georgia is currently experiencing, one of the best ways to save water is to save energy. In Georgia, it takes almost one gallon of water to create one-kilowatt hour of energy. (The average illuminated Exit sign uses 36 kilowatts per hour.)

What is Emory doing to help?
Emory is being sustainable by building water-saving features into the new LEED Gold-certified Few and Evans freshmen residence halls that include innovative features such as solar panels that pump collected rainwater into dual flush toilets. These dual flush toilets are also in Turman Residence Hall. Push down for a little bit of water during a flush, or up for more water.

Keeping Emory's buildings cool requires massive amounts of electricity and a lot of water. The University has found a way to collect and reuse condensate "sweat" from large heat wheels that ventilate the buildings in an energy-efficient manner. The Whitehead and Pediatrics buildings alone produce about four million gallons of this condensate per year that Emory uses in our chilled water system. That's four million gallons of water that did not get siphoned out of the Chattahoochee River, which is about the amount of water the residents of metro Atlanta would drink in a day.
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Energy Awareness

Why is this important?
The production of electricity can have a serious impact on the air quality of Georgia and the earth. Emory is currently the sixth-largest customer of Georgia Power, a company that generates most of the state's electrical power by coal-fired plants. Two of these plants rank as the #1 and #3 largest sources of greenhouse gases in the entire nation. Those same plants are Georgia's largest source of particulate matter, ozone, and mercury pollution, linked respectively to lung cancer, asthma attacks and neurological impairment in children.

What is Emory doing to help?
As a public health leader, Emory has committed to work to reduce energy usage by 25 percent by 2015 from our 2005 usage levels. Plans for this reduction in energy use include overhauling existing buildings on campus to make them more energy efficient and installing energy monitors in buildings. These monitors will display electrical usage each week, month and year, and allow floor-by-floor comparisons, a move that may spark some friendly competition.
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Recycling and Reuse

Why is this important?
According to the National Recycling Coalition, recycling is one of the easiest ways to help slow climate change and global warming. The average American discards 4.6 pounds of garbage every day. By recycling, you can help significantly lower carbon emissions associated with extracting virgin materials, manufacturing products and waste disposal.

What is Emory doing to help?
Emory currently recycles 59 percent of our overall waste stream, with a goal to increase that to 65 percent by 2015. However, recycling at Emory goes far beyond just paper, aluminum, cardboard and plastic. The University finds new uses for 95 percent of all electronic waste and plans to match that rate for construction debris, animal bedding and food waste by 2015.

Emory's recycling programs extend out into the community, overseeing recycling for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Clifton Road, area high schools like Druid Hills and area retirement communities. And recently, Emory helped Delta Airlines set up their new in-flight recycling program.
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Commute Alternatives

Why is this important?
Drivers in Atlanta suffer some of the longest commutes in the U.S. and the air in Atlanta suffers from all those tailpipe emissions. But it doesn't have to be that way.

What is Emory doing to help?
Emory offers many incentives to switch from driving solo to commuting via carpooling, walking, biking, telecommuting and taking the bus through a program called Emory Moves. Alternative commuters are encouraged with free transit passes, Zipcar memberships, Park-N-Rides at area shopping malls, and the free alternatively-fueled fleet of Cliff shuttle buses with half the fleet powered by a biodiesel blend made of recycled cooking oil from Emory's hospital and campus cafeterias.

To encourage biking, Bike Emory has partnered with Fuji Bikes and Bicycle South to offer deep discounts on bicycles, on-campus Mobile Repair Centers, and a free bike share program. All these efforts are aimed towards Emory's goal, which is to get one out of four single occupancy vehicles coming to campus off the road by 2015.
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Piedmont Project

Why is this important?
In 2001 a study revealed the Atlanta metropolitan area to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. At the same time, Atlanta's environmental dilemmas became front page news. Municipal and regional failures to comply with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act led to federal penalties, drawing attention to some negative aspects of Atlanta's much-celebrated economic growth. Urban sprawl and rising population lengthened commute time to one of the longest in the nation, further increasing the number of days of summer smog. Droughts highlighted urban water use, and disputes with neighboring states revealed that increasing population growth might soon outstrip water supplies. Though known as a city of trees, Atlanta lost half its tree cover in less than twenty years, and scientists documented an urban heat island effect. Many faculty, as well as staff and students, were concerned about these environmental dimensions of growth and urban (and suburban) lifestyles, but there were few ways that such concerns could be addressed within the central mission of the university.

What is Emory doing to help?
The grassroots Piedmont Project was developed by faculty members for faculty members to inspire them to incorporate sustainability concepts into class curriculums. To date, the project has trained over 130 Emory faculty members from medicine to journalism. For example, professors from English, philosophy and environmental studies teamed up to teach a new course on the many life-giving dimensions of water as a result of their training with the Piedmont Project. The project's success has attracted the attention of other institutions, and Emory faculty are training faculty from other universities to implement similar programs around the country. Through the Piedmont Project, sustainability now takes a front row seat in Emory's classes.
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Thinking and Living Locally

Why is this important?
The greater appreciation we have for our surrounding and the natural environment, the more important it will be to protect and nurture it. Research has shown that spending time in "green nature" reduces stress, restores mental alertness and enriches spiritual life. Outdoor experiences increase skills of observation and knowledge about local and bioregional ecosystems.

What is Emory doing to Help?
The Emory As Place program seeks to instill knowledge and create a sense attachment to the unique history, culture and ecosystem of Emory's campus and community. Through mentoring, woods walks and Place Fest, students and staff can realize the context of their everyday surroundings and learn to live sustainably at Emory.
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