A long-standing commitment to sustainable growth

Emory is among the top 25 most sustainable research universities in the nation, according to AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking and Rating System. Since the Office of Sustainability Initiatives was founded in 2006, it has garnered a lengthy list of accolades. Emory’s sustainability achievements are nationally-recognized.

  • Professor Woolford Baker comes to Emory and becomes the first guardian of Emory’s forests
1919
  • Emory Surplus Property, which sells furniture and equipment from Emory departments at discounted rates, is started
1985
  • Professors W.H. Murdy and M.E.B. Carter authors an assessment that concluded Emory’s forests represent “a unique and valuable resource of scientific, educational, and aesthetic value.”
1986
  • Emory begins to recycle aluminum, colored paper, and glass with BOBO collectors that were first funded by the student government and remained in place for fifteen years
  • Emory’s first Stormwater Management Plan is adopted and becomes one of the first official University documents addressing sustainable water issues
1992
  • Led by anthropology professor Peggy Bartlett, a group of faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni creates an Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Stewardship to foster a deeper engagement with sustainability issues
1999
  • After a decade of assessment and action, the Ad Hoc Committee crafts an Environmental Mission Statement for the University. The effort becomes a platform to bring environmental issues to the forefront across campus
  • Emory’s Whitehead Medical Research Building is designated as the first LEED certified building constructed in the Southeast
  • Emory’s Board of Trustees formalizes a commitment to upholding LEED standards in all new building projects
  • The Piedmont Project, a program designed to engage faculty in integrating sustainability across the curriculum and through research, launches University-wide
2001
  • An energy conservation program is piloted in ten Emory College buildings; after communications efforts, electricity use went down 8 percent in the first year and 6.7 percent in the second year despite growth in faculty, staff and machines in some buildings
2002
  • The Piedmont Project was expanded to include a one-day workshop for graduate students
  • Emory adopted the Land Classification Plan, which set aside roughly half of Emory’s land as protected
2004
  • Sustainability is established as a core commitment during university-wide strategic planning
2005
  • The “Sustainability Vision for Emory” is adopted by the President’s Cabinet and guides the University’s efforts today
  • The Office of Sustainability Initiatives is established and its first Director hired
  • Emory adopts a utility reduction and energy conservation plan to achieve 25% per square-foot energy use reduction by 2015 using a 2005 baseline
  • Emory’s Cliff Shuttle system begins to run on a biodiesel blend that uses recycled cooking oil from campus dining halls
2006
  • Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives begins an incentives fund, which offers small grants to Emory community members to inspire innovations in sustainability
2007
  • Emory University is recognized as the “Conservationist of the Year” by the Georgia Conservancy
  • The first Living Green themed dormitory opens at Few and Evans Hall
  • The Sustainability Representatives program, composed of staff and faculty from major campus buildings, is launched
  • The first of Emory’s weekly farmers markets is held
2008
  • Princeton Review ranks Emory in the Top 11 Most Sustainable Campuses
  • Sustainability for Health Sciences Task Force, co-founded by the Vice President for Health Affairs and the CEO of Woodruff Health Sciences Center, has its first meeting and provides opportunities for sustainability leaders within Emory healthcare to emerge, meet, and institutionalize their plans
  • Emory implements the No Net Loss of Forest Canopy policy, which seeks to replace all lost tree canopy for no net loss
2009
  • The League of American Bicyclists designates Emory a Bike Friendly Campus
  • The minor in interdisciplinary sustainability studies is first offered
  • The Faculty Advisory Council, which makes recommendations about the implementation of sustainability issues in course curriculum across all schools and levels and also explores opportunities to expand sustainability research, is first formed
2010
  • Emory receives the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), “Gold” rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System for leadership and innovation
  • AASHE awards Peggy Barlett, Goodrich C. White Professor of Anthropology and Sustainable Food Committee chair, the inaugural Faculty Sustainability Leadership award
  • Emory’s Climate Action Plan is implemented campus-wide outlining action steps and goals for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Each University academic unit further developed individualized plans to account for their unit’s unique culture and assets
2011
2012
2013
  • Emory once again receives a “Gold” rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System for leadership and innovation in sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Emory becomes the first university in the nation to adopt a comprehensive Pollinator Protection Policy that bans neonicotinoid application and pre-treated plants, enhances pollinator habitat, and educates about the importance of pollinators to healthy food systems and ecosystems
  • The Oxford Farm near Oxford campus  breaks ground under the guidance of Daniel Parson. The Farm begins providing local, organically-grown product to the Emory and wider community
  • Emory’s Green Office and Green Lab programs are formed to make office and lab space more sustainable
2014
  • Emory celebrates 10 years of accomplishments under its 2015 Sustainability Vision
  • Emory is ranked #8 on the “Greenest Universities” List on BestColleges.com
  • The WaterHub at Emory University, an on-site water reclamation facility that is the first-of-its-kind in the nation, opens on Emory’s campus
  • Development of Climate@Emory as an Academic Learning Community, now dedicated to climate-related research, teaching, and policy
2015
2016
  • Emory once again receives a “Gold” rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System for leadership and innovation in sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
2017
  • Emory’s Druid Hills campus is annexed into the City of Atlanta’s boundaries
  • Emory University adopts the Emory Waste Management Policy to move the campus toward its goal to divert 95% of its waste from municipal landfills
  • Emory’s WaterHub receives the 2018 IDEA Innovation Award from the International District Energy Association (IDEA)
  • Emory earns rating for its leadership and innovation in university sustainability
    2018 Campus Sustainability Achievement Award for Emory’s WaterHub & Student Docents Program from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
  • Emory receives recognition for sustainability in laboratory procurement from the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL)
  • Emory earns MVP Award in Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge for making buildings more energy efficient and better places to live and work while creating jobs and building a stronger economy
2018