The new Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being is wrapping up Sustainability Month in October by highlighting several of its strategic initiatives that foster the goal of creating sustainable practices and programming with a focus on increasing well-being.
Improving Housing’s Campus Footprint
Housing and Residence Life has the largest carbon footprint of any Campus Services division and therefore has the biggest opportunity to make an impact. Efforts to retro-commission older buildings to improve their efficiency and indoor air quality, and long-term plans in the new Housing Master Plan will ensure that a sustainability lens is used when looking for improvements to current buildings and future development.
Several residence halls now have options for composting, with plans to expand the program. Residents are encouraged to consider their utility consumption through energy competitions and a peer-to-peer educational program called the EcoReps that trains RAs on sustainability topics to inform their residents through programming. Learn more about Sustainability in the Halls here.
Sustainability through Well-Being
"Good health and well-being" was one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015. The Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE) offers programming that promotes mental health and well-being and provides practical skills and resources that support sustainability. The CARE Student Ambassador program allows students to partner with CARE to increase the utilization of mental health and well-being resources on and off-campus. The program amplifies students’ voices in reducing mental health stigma on campus and promoting help-seeking behaviors among peers. CARE Ambassadors create outreach events for the Tech community.
Coffee with CARE is a drop-in opportunity for students to learn about campus and community resources and ask questions in a non-clinical setting. This outreach focuses specifically on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to help reduce barriers to access to mental health resources for traditionally marginalized groups. Events are hosted throughout the school year on a variety of topics.
Learn more about CARE’s offerings at care.gatech.edu.
Sustainability Opportunities in Dining’s New Operation
Georgia Tech’s new in-house dining program began in July of this year. Tech Dining’s operation presented new opportunities to prioritize sustainability. The department has committed to sustainability by hiring a sustainability specialist and student employees to support the implementation and growth of its sustainability program across campus.
Tech Dining prioritizes local, sustainable, and ethical purchasing whenever possible, supporting the local economy and community farmers while increasing the availability of fresh, nutrient-dense produce across campus. Additionally, they work to purchase compostable to-go wares and cutlery as much as possible and seek to identify recyclable alternatives when necessary. Dining also manages institution-wide composting collections at the Exhibition Hall, Brittain and North Avenue Dining Halls, and West Village.
Through regular sustainability tabling at the Community Market, Tech Dining’s local, ethical, and plant-forward offerings are highlighted and often sampled, during regular sustainability tabling at the Community Market. This approach allows students to learn about Tech Dining’s sustainability practices while exploring opportunities to incorporate sustainable habits into their own lives.
Learn more about Tech Dining’s sustainability operations at dining.gatech.edu/sustainability-dining.
Serving Students Sustainably
The Students’ Temporary Assistance and Resources (STAR) program provides stability for students to pursue a fulfilling college experience. The program collaborates across campus to support students and increase campus awareness of its resources. Klemis Kitchen is an initiative that serves as a food pantry for Georgia Tech students with dietary needs and financial concerns that limit their access to proper nourishment. Tech Dining provides regular donations to Klemis Kitchen, thereby directly increasing the accessibility of fresh, wholesome meals to students who are experiencing food insecurity.
Campus Closet is another initiative that lends appropriate clothing to students who are prospective hires without proper business attire. Learn more about the STAR program at studentlife.gatech.edu/content/star-services.
Options for Commuters and Planning for Transit’s Future
Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) has implemented and planned several initiatives to increase energy efficiency and reduce Tech’s impact on greenhouse gasses. Through updating the existing infrastructure with more efficient LED lighting, energy costs have been reduced by up to 80%. When campus transit brings its new fleet to campus, a portion of the new transit fleet is expected to be hybrid electric.
PTS primarily uses virtual permitting without a physical hangtag, is considering all-electric options for parking enforcement vehicles, and allows campus commuters flexible options to support teleworking and alternative work schedules. Alternative commute programs, like Commute Concierge, help the campus plan different ways to get to and around campus by encouraging biking, walking, transit use, carpooling, and ridesharing.
Click here for more information about PTS’s sustainability initiatives.
Encouraging Active Transportation
Move Georgia Tech is a new initiative from Campus Services seeking to encourage the campus community to choose “active,” or human-powered transportation for traveling to, from, and around campus. By choosing active transportation, the initiative hopes to connect the community through an increased sense of well-being and belonging. Learn more about Move Georgia Tech at crc.gatech.edu/move
Through a partnership between Housing and Residence Life, the Students’ Temporary Assistance and Resources (STAR) program, and the Office of Campus Sustainability, materials donations drives are held around move-out to ensure that residents can donate the reusable clothing, food, and household goods they no longer need instead of throwing them away. These items are then donated to local charities or given back to the student community before the fall semester. Learn more about Green Goodbyes here.
Sustainability Alignment with the Campus Center Project
The Campus Center project has been an important opportunity for the Student and Campus Event Centers team to realign sustainability efforts throughout their portfolio of buildings and services. As each of their facilities is built or renovated, the design-build team focuses on meeting ASHRAE standards by opting for a low-finish design that uses fewer materials, outdoor elements that support natural water management, and flexibility of program so that facilities can fulfill multiple needs to maximize space-efficiency.
Waste and recycling practices are also being standardized across the portfolio to ensure that the composting or waste sorting experience is consistent and optimized in all of their buildings. As the project concludes this summer with the completion of the Student Center's transformation, the community can expect to see more examples of sustainable practice in action.
Savings at the Bookstore
Barnes & Noble @ Georgia Tech has made efforts to improve energy savings in the bookstore and paper savings for students. The lighting has been replaced with high-efficiency bulbs to reduce energy consumption. More ebooks and digital course materials were provided than in previous years, reducing the need for paper to produce the materials. The Bookstore is also saving water bottles in two ways, by implementing touchless water filling stations and providing graduation regalia that is made from recycled water bottles.
Upgrades at the CRC
The Campus Recreation Center has undergone and is planning future upgrades to the facility to support its sustainability goals. Lighting in the Fitness Center, Basketball Courts, and the Leisure Pool were converted to LED in 2017 with plans to convert the Competition Pool and Stamps Recreation Fields in the future. All program waivers and transactions for patrons have gone digital. Stamps Recreation Fields is a rainwater infiltration area that allows 44,500 cubic feet of water to be gradually released into the ground, recharging the basin’s groundwater system.
To support sustainable transportation, the CRC launch the Commuter Shower Pass to expand access to showers on campus for active commuters. Learn more about the CRC’s sustainability efforts here.
FASET Goes Green
New Student and Transition Programs (NSTP) has made an effort to go digital with FASET schedules since 2019. Before Covid-19, approximately eight thousand schedules were printed for FASET. Other programming for FASET, like resource fairs and information sessions, also went digital due to the pandemic. NSTP is evaluating the shift to digital resources and programming as they plan to support new students in the coming year.