The Sustainable Energy Tribe is trying to keep State green

Georgia State’s unique location and style of campus allows students to enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life while getting a formal education. Because of this non-traditional style, students face many environmental issues that come with living in a major city, including pollution and energy waste. The Sustainable Energy Tribe is here to combat the struggle.

SET looks to counter the environmental issues Georgia State students face on a regular basis. SET’s secretary, Justin Brightharp said it’s about more than just “cleaning up”.

“We’re a campus-wide organization looking to bring environmental initiatives to Georgia State”, Brightharp said. “ We’re about more than just recycling. We’re looking for a more scientific approach to find sustainable energy and alternative energy resources that everyone can use”.

Brightharp said one of the main energy alternatives being researched for future use are Wind Turbines, similar to the ones that can be seen when passing Georgia Tech’s campus on the interstate.

“We’re testing wind speeds around campus to see where are the best locations to build wind turbines is”, Brightharp said. “We’re trying to get the equipment for the turbines and begin testing it by the end of the semester”.

Although SET is working on building alternative energy resources, Brightharp said the process would not be completed anytime soon.

“It won’t be active for a quite some time, because it requires a lot of engineering, machinery and maintenance to put everything together in a way that will maximize energy output” Brightharp said. “Building the turbines on rooftops alters building infrastructures, so it would be more economical to add them to newer buildings that Georgia State will have in the future”.

Aside from turbine construction, Brightharp explained that SET is hoping to alter the use and waste of other necessities, such as available freshwater.

“We’re also looking to conserve rainwater as a renewable resource”, he said. “The recirculation of water will hopefully lower the water bills for Georgia State, which could possibly help to reduce the housing fees that students have to pay. When 4,000 students living on campus have unlimited access to how much water they can use, there’s definitely a major excess of water being wasted. Because of that, the University has to respond by raising fees”

SET also has further philanthropic efforts planned, including activities going on at Hurt Park.

“We also got clearance to garden in Hurt Park for research with the plants”, Brightharp said. “We’re germinating onion, peppers and other plants that we’ll be giving back to the community as food donations”.

With all of these new projects in the works for SET, people may wonder where all of the funding for these creations is coming from. Brightharp credits the Green Fee Resolution as the driving force.

“The Green Fee Resolution is a piece of legislation passed by the SGA for us to become more active”, Brightharp said. “It gives us major funding to promote our research and create our office of sustainability like other major research universities in Georgia.”

Brightharp said any students interested in getting involved with the environmental community should pay close attention the upcoming events this week.

“Our Earth Week celebration is finally here”, Brightharp said. “Student organizations such as Touch the Earth and Panther Bikes will be partnering with us for a few events, as well as citywide organizations such as the Office of Sustainability for Atlanta and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.”

Brightharp said there will be several events on campus for students to get involved with.

“It starts next Wednesday with our movie night in the VIP room. Next Thursday is when the student organizations will be active to campus as well.  The day after Earth Day (the 23rd) is the day that the Office of Sustainability will be here in Unity Plaza. There will be tables and kiosks promoting ways students can get involved with their environment and become more conscious of how to make a change”

With the continuous expansion of Georgia State’s campus and endless growth of its student population, the need for a clean and safe student environment is undeniable. SET is endlessly pursuing positive growth for the community, but Brightharp said there are still many things that can be improved.

“I don’t think there’s just one thing we can improve on” said Brightharp. “The recycling bins are a great start, but there is always room for improvement. A lot of times it’s not that people don’t want to help, it’s just that they don’t know how. That’s why we feel it is so important to educate people, and we will work relentlessly until everyone is advocating for change”