Emory named top 'green school' among U.S. universities

Dec. 17, 2013

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Beverly Clark
404-712-8780
beverly.clark@emory.edu

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Integrating sustainability into the classroom helped Emory win recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council's Center for Green Schools. Emory Photo/Video.

Emory University has been named the nation's top "Higher Education Institution" by the U.S. Green Building Council's Center for Green Schools in its annual "Best of Green Schools 2013" report.

The designation recognizes educational institutions and individuals across the country that demonstrate innovative approaches to school sustainability, environmental initiatives and a commitment to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The "Best of Green Schools" list honors recipients in 10 different categories, recognizing "exemplary leadership from schools, campuses, students and policy makers who are raising the bar when it comes to creating healthy, safe and resource-efficient schools," according to Rachel Gutter, director of the USGBC Center for Green Schools.

In awarding the category of "Higher Education Institution," the USGBC noted Emory's commitment to maintaining "sustainability as one of its top priorities — to help restore the global ecosystem, foster healthy living and reduce the University's impact on the local environment."

"Emory is honored and delighted to receive national recognition from USGBC," says Ciannat Howett, director of Emory's Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

"Sustainability has long been a top priority at Emory, where our vision is to develop and promote a model for healthy living here on campus that can translate to communities around the globe," she adds.

In receiving the honor, Emory was noted for having "among the highest number of square feet of LEED-certified space of any campus in America," according to the USGBC.

In 2001, Emory adopted the USGBC's LEED standards for all new major campus construction projects, which must achieve, at minimum, LEED silver certification — a commitment designed to help the University meet its goals of reducing energy use by 25 percent by 2015 and greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels, according to the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

In addition to a well-established green building program, Emory sustainability initiatives include:

  • Integrating sustainability into the curriculum
  • Reducing energy use
  • Promoting healthy commute options
  • Protecting green space
  • Conserving water
  • Recycling waste
  • Providing local and sustainably grown food.

This semester, Emory has added to a growing list of 24-LEED certified buildings on campus. The University now has 11 buildings that have achieved LEED gold status and six projects pending that, once certified, will achieve a total of 3 million gross square feet of LEED-certified space.

Emory was responsible for constructing the first LEED-certified building in the Southeast (Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, 2002) and one of the first LEED-EB (existing building) gold buildings in the U.S. (Goizueta Business School, 2004).

Emory's Piedmont Project, an annual workshop for faculty and graduate students to foster cross-disciplinary discussion and develop sustainability curricula, is also a nationally recognized program for integrating sustainability into the curriculum across disciplines.

In honoring Emory, the USGBC also noted the University's overall commitment to integrating sustainability into the classroom — sustainability-related courses are now offered in 47 departments across campus — and a bus fleet that is powered by a biodiesel blend made with used cooking oil from campus cafeterias.

The University also won recognition for a commitment to be serving 75 percent local or sustainable ingredients in campus and hospital cafeterias by 2015.

The Center for Green Schools was established to empower the transformation of all schools into sustainable and healthy places to live, learn, work and play, promoting the design and construction of green schools and "greening" the operations and maintenance of existing schools.