Planning for a greener Georgia State

Members of the Senate Sustainability Committee listen intently to each other's ideas at their meeting in 85 Park Place on Friday, Sep 27th. Photo by Zach Butler | The Signal

The Senate Sustainability Committee’s second meeting of the semester on Sept. 27 was a look forward at some of the goals the members hopes to accomplish over the next year — and even further. 

From creating a new environmentally related minor to funding environmentally friendly construction, the committee is looking at laying the groundwork for sustainable projects and education at Georgia State.


New Minor or Certificate

A new environmental related minor or certificate may become available to students in the near future. Although it is still in the preliminary stages, Carrie Freeman, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, says the program could be rolled out within the next year or two, contingent, of course, on it being approved. 

Currently, environmental courses are only available to students pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in geosciences with an environmental concentration or a bachelor’s of science degree in interdisciplinary studies in environmental science. With the introduction of this minor or certificate, the courses would become available to more students.

“It helps put an emphasis on environmental studies for students in the social sciences and humanities, not just the hard sciences,” Freeman said. “It would encourage more students to sign up for eco-themed classes that already exist at Georgia State.” 


The Green Fund

In order to increase the sustainability features in new buildings and retrofits, outside donor funding is necessary. Enter the “Green Fund.” 

Timing is everything when it comes to securing donor funds. Usually, donors become aware of building projects after the project is already approved and underway.

Upon approval of building projects, total costs are fixed and funds cannot be increased for the addition of sustainable features. Although these features would eventually pay for themselves in energy savings, they involve a higher up-front cost, the members discussed. 

If the committee can secure donation requests prior to the approval of the project, the problem could be solved. 

Sarah Emerson, assistant vice president for corporate and foundation relations, will be joining the committee’s next meeting on Oct. 25 to discuss setting up a green fund at Georgia State. Then, the committee will have to meet with the GSU Foundation to determine the feasibility of the project. 


Sustainable Purchasing

Reducing waste and Georgia State’s carbon footprint can be attainable through sustainable goods the university purchases. This idea is also in the investigating stages, but members are looking at modeling after Georgia Tech, which uses wind power to produce paper towels and swaps out some of the chemical cleaning supplies for Green Seal-certified cleaning agents, according to the committee.

The annual Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council Summit will be held in Atlanta May 2020. The SPLC is the leading non-profit organization that provides sustainable resources to business and universities. Students and professionals interested in sustainability procurement can pay to attend or can apply to volunteer.