Georgia Tech has long been a proponent of using resources wisely and respectfully. We anticipated the tremendous growth in our numbers students and demand for our programs which has driven the growth in our building square footage and campus. We are aware of the level of passion and seriousness of our students, faculty, researchers and staff who want sustainability, as defined in today's terms, immediately, if not sooner.
Sustainability at Georgia Tech refers to the ways that we, as individuals and as a campus community, can use natural resources so that our current and future needs for those resources can be provided for. Moreover, a sustainable campus must also include recognition of our academic mission as a state university, and an appreciation that our organization must be financially viable within the budget realities of Georgia and the University System of Georgia. Thus, sustainability can be viewed as a triad of interrelated forces that must become mutually supportive as described in the 2004 Campus Master Plan Update.
Our progress has been steady, implemented in an organized comprehensive approach of building new buildings according to LEED certification standards as well as Geogia Tech's Yellow Book of Design Standards while also upgrading and retrofiting our beautiful historic campus. Our alumni and Foundation, as well as the Board of Regents, City and State have provided ongoing support and inspiration. With their continued support and innovation we will meet our sustainability goals sooner rather than later.
As a public research institution, we have used our Mission Statement, Strategic Plan, Campus Master Plan and Landscape Master Plan to guide and time our actions in sustainability while gross square footage increased by 64 percent over the past ten years and 25 percent
in the past five years. It presently totals more than 14.5 million GSF. New facilities are built according to a minimum of LEED Gold standards(Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design) and the campus is being reshaped according to environmental
principles. The interdisciplinary design of new academic facilities has been recognized by Nature magazine as a leading approach. New facilities such as Technology Square (a five-building complex) and the Campus Recreation Center have won numerous awards, both local and national. Technology Square was recognized by the Urban Land Institute in 2003 as one of the nation’s top ten transformative projects. It was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a "Deal of the Decade" for the economic growth and integrated strategy of LEED and Live/Learn/Work/Play in Atlanta's downwtown area.
Additionally, Georgia Tech signed the President’s Climate Commitment to further support integrated sustainable design and to further commit Georgia Tech as a leader in our community and the higher education marketplace.
Most of the important problems facing the world today are broad and call for the
participation of interdisciplinary teams to solve. Energy, for example. Political volatility
in the Middle East, growing energy demands from large, emerging nations such as
China and India, and deepening concern about over population have made energy a
priority issue for the nation and the world. Our response has been to create the Strategic Energy Institute to bring together researchers from areas of policy, engineering, science, and earth and atmospheric sciences to craft a comprehensive, sustainable approach to some of the most challenging problems humanity is facing today.
For example, rising fuel prices has focused national attention on biofuels. Georgia Tech is a partner in a $125 million biofuels 5 research center led by Oak Ridge National Lab, and has a $12 million partnership with Chevron to develop biofuels and hydrogen as alternatives for transportation.
We are also creating new alternative energy sources, from more powerful solar cells to a tiny nano-scale generator that harvests energy that is available in the environment around it, so it does not need a designated power source. And we have not neglected new approaches to nuclear energy, for which demand is growing.
But energy issues do not exist in a vacuum. They are intertwined with climate change and environmental sustainability. Studies on how the earth’s climate is changing by Civil Engineer Peter Webster and Judy Curry in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences have provided new insights into how this occurs and propelled Georgia Tech into the national spotlight. Strategic Energy Institute (SEI) researchers like Bill Koros and Ron Chance are among the national leaders in developing solutions to address the seminal carbon issue with capture and sequestration. Given the growth in world energy demands, there is no question that carbon-based fuels will continue to be used, and Georgia Tech will be among the leaders in developing technologies for carbon capture and sequestration. The SEI approach also recognizes the importance of public policy. Faculty member Marilyn Brown is nationally recognized for her work on the policy underlying bigpicture energy, climate and sustainability issues.
Georgia Tech's College of Management building in the Tech Square portion of Georgia Tech's campus was the 13th LEED certified building in the U.S. In its opening day ceremony, President Clough stated: "Sustainable buildings become symbolic of international education, world citizens, working in a global econmy, and across a sustainable world".
President Peterson assumed the helm of Georgia Tech in 2009. He also recognizes the need for leadership in sustainability: "The intensity and rate of population growth in various regions of the world, along with the demand for energy, materials, food, and water in urban areas, warrants top priority as the world seeks solutions to population growth, climate change, and energy and resource scarcity. That's why Georgia Tech is working to position itself as the global leader in education, research, and service in the area of sustainability and resilient urban infrastructure.
Georgia Tech is helping to prepare the future workforce for this second technological revolution by developing an interdisciplinary approach to education, research and service; providing international experiences for all faculty and students; creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship; and framing our values and mission around the principles and concepts of sustainability. Our students are not hesitant about getting into this picture.
In the first technological revolution of the modern era, competition of ideas and products in the marketplace were the key to positive growth and prosperity. In the second technological revolution, competition will become less important as collaboration becomes more essential.
Technology that works well, but isn't sustainable, will be no more acceptable than technology that is sustainable, but doesn't work well. Our future depends upon all of us, industry, government, and universities working together to find not just a way, but to find the best way to accomplish our goals.
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's top research universities, distinguished by its commitment to improving the human condition through advanced science and technology. Our students are taught to be collaborative, innovative, interdisciplinary, and global. They operate at the intersection of technology, policy, business and sustainability.