Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 52.57
Liaison Susan Kidd
Submission Date Feb. 15, 2012
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

Agnes Scott College
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Justine Schwartz
Sustainability Fellow
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A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

From the inception of Agnes Scott’s sustainability program, there has been a strong desire to collaborate, cooperate and partner with the city of Decatur. Like Agnes Scott, Decatur is a smaller institution. The city is 4 square miles, has 18,000 residents and is very committed to sustainability. Because of this commitment, it was only natural that the city’s sustainability program would support and influence Agnes Scott’s efforts. Additionally, both institutions successfully model a concept that small can be sustainable, particularly because they are able to foster such successful partnerships.

Our partnership is unique, particularly because of how closely we work together. Several city employees were very influential during the charrette that created the structure for Agnes Scott’s Office of Sustainability and its subsequent goals. Their input was crucial at the college’s beginning stages, particularly because a partnership with the city was a top priority for Agnes Scott’s sustainability efforts. It was and is important for the college to know what the city has planned for sustainability because there are many opportunities for partnerships, collaborations or general support.

One such example is Agnes Scott’s Sustainability Fellow program. The two-year, post-undergraduate position employs a recent ASC graduate to work in the Office of Sustainability in various capacities. The fellow works with students on education and outreach, helps to manage the zero waste program, and functions in the office in various capacities. The city of Decatur partially funded the fellow program from its inception. Because of the continued partnership and funding, the fellow acts as a liaison to the city in its sustainability efforts. In particular, the fellow attends Environmental Sustainability Board meetings as representative of the college, and is afforded numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth through small projects for the city. The two Sustainability Fellows have partnered with Decatur on several important projects, including: completing a waste audit, drafting the city’s first sustainability plan, completing some data input tasks, and drafting guidelines for a sustainable restaurant program. The fellows have greatly benefitted from the professional opportunities as well.

In the summer of 2011, Agnes Scott began a project to weatherize and renovate five residential homes it owns. The college found technical assistance through Southface Energy Institute Oak Ridge National Lab and some financial incentives through rebates from Decatur. The college’s partnership with the city made it possible to learn about and apply for the funding, and opened the door for future opportunities.

Even smaller opportunities for collaboration are important. For example, Agnes Scott allows a community garden funded and promoted by the city to use the college’s greenhouse to seed spring crops. A representative from Agnes Scott’s Office of Sustainability also attends Decatur Agriculture Initiative meetings, which help the direct and inform the city’s decisions about urban farms, community gardens and future food sources. Additionally, both institutions have found capacities for volunteering or providing volunteers. For example, the college provides student, staff and faculty volunteers for the city’s volunteer efforts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For the past decade, Decatur’s MLK Day volunteer efforts have been to help senior citizens weatherize their homes.

The partnership’s greatest benefit is the ability to keep both institutions “in the know” on their sustainability efforts. Because both organizations are so small in comparison to their peers, partnerships are key to achieving real success in sustainability. Even if no collaboration comes of a particular meeting or shared opportunity, the continued efforts to cooperate is what makes the partnership on sustainability between Agnes Scott and Decatur so successful.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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