Emory’s 2025 Sustainability Vision identified four main action arenas, including utilizing Emory’s landscape, buildings, and operations to model best practices. This past year, campus departments made important strides toward realizing Emory’s Sustainability Vision goals. Significant milestones were recently achieved in the area of water reclamation and reuse from the WaterHub at Emory and in the total square footage of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings on campus. Additionally, Transportation and Parking Services completed a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb installation project in parking decks, and the University established an innovative funding structure for energy and water efficiency projects, the Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund.
The WaterHub at Emory is a state of the art water recycling system, the first-of-its-kind in the United States. The facility, established in a partnership between Emory University and Sustainable Water, reclaims up to 400,000 gallons of sewage water per day from the Emory and CDC campuses and distributes it for non-potable purposes of heating and cooling buildings as well as toilet flushing in Raoul Residence Hall. In January 2017, the WaterHub at Emory officially reclaimed over 100 million gallons of water since it opened in April 2015, accounting for almost 40% of Emory’s total water use.
The WaterHub at Emory has attracted the attention of many corporations, municipalities, community members, and peer institutions, many with hopes of initiating similar projects, with trained Emory student docents lead weekly public tours, allowing over 1250 visitors to visit the WaterHub at Emory since its opening. It has accumulated numerous accolades, receiving 14 significant awards in efficiency, innovation, and sustainable innovation. Recognition has been received from state, regional and national entities.
In another area of campus, Transportation and Parking Services committed to upgrading the parking decks on campus with new, highly efficient LED lighting. The lighting transition was focused primarily on the Fishburne parking deck located just off North Decatur Road near the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The improvements to the structure include 267 new fixtures equipped with higher efficiency bulbs, and sensors placed on perimeter lights. The new LED bulbs in interior fixtures, stairwell lights, exterior wall packs and roof top pole lights, are expected to save 236,000 kWh annually. This type of energy efficiency project makes important contributions to meeting the energy and carbon use reduction goals Emory outlined in its Climate Action Plan and Sustainability Vision.
In order to facilitate continued investment in energy and water efficiency projects, the University launched a Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund. The fund, made possible by seed capital from a $500,000 grant from the Kendeda Fund matched by a $1 million contribution from the University, is a self-perpetuating fund supporting water and energy efficiency projects on campus that pay for themselves over time. The savings from these efficiency projects go back to the fund to pay for future projects. Emory has also joined the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, a national program to encourage establishment of sustainability revolving funds at universities across the country. The first project funded through Emory’s Sustainability Revolving Fund is the co-generation capability at Emory’s steam plant that will result in 1 MW of clean energy. Striving to meet the challenging goal of 20% total greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2020 and 50% total by 2050, Emory continues to pursue effective programs and innovative solutions. The dedication of Emory’s Campus Services staff in the areas of Utilities, Transportation and Parking Services, and Planning, Design, and Construction have led to these important achievements.
By Kryn Dykema
May 4, 2017