Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.69
Liaison Ciannat Howett
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

Emory University
EN-5: Outreach Campaign

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Taylor Spicer
Programs Coordinator
Office of Sustainability Initiatives
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at students and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:
Yes

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at employees and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:
Yes

Name of the campaign:
October Energy Awareness and Building Energy Reduction

A brief description of the campaign:

Campus-wide energy reduction competitions and campaigns are organized each October by the Office of Sustainability Initiatives and Campus Services. A prize goes to three buildings with the greatest reduction of energy use in comparison with October in the previous year. Outreach efforts include articles and posters, banners around campus, signs near elevators, etc. The campaign and competition includes administrative buildings, classroom buildings, and residence halls.

In 2017, weekly themes helped to make the competition even more interactive. Actions, such as ‘turn off lights when you leave,’ ‘take the stairs,’ 'turn off your computer or put it in sleep mode' and ‘destroy vampire loads’ were disseminated through social media, a weekly newsletter and through a small number of flyers in residence halls, offices and labs.

For the 2018 Energy Awareness Campaign, the OSI created a series of infographics that educated about types of fuel sources consumed in Georgia, each building's energy use during the competition month for the past 3 years, renewable energy generation in Georgia, and organizations and legislative bodies that affect energy consumption and generation in Georgia.


A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign:

From the 2017 Building Energy Reduction Competition, the campus saved 819,701 kilowatt hours from the previous October, which is equivalent of 610 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided. The reduction is equal to taking 130 cars off the road for a year or diverting almost 215 tons of waste from a landfill.


Name of the campaign (2nd campaign):
Waste Policy Rollout Outreach Campaign

A brief description of the campaign (2nd campaign):

In January 2018, Emory University implemented a completely redesigned waste policy as a leap toward the goal of zero landfill waste (defined nationally as diverting 95% of waste from municipal landfills) by 2025. This zero landfill waste policy includes several important behavioral and operational changes and marks the first time the University has established a formal policy on its waste management. The policy includes changes to the waste stream bins in both indoor and outdoor spaces, completely removing landfill bins from exterior spaces and making compost and recycle bins uniform and more accessible across campus. The policy also calls for a new team of waste specialists to service bins and assist with education. The policy requires that Emory community members service their own waste, removing desk side bin servicing for all community members. Finally, it sets standards regarding elimination of plastic water bottles and other zero landfill waste measures for events and conference rooms.

To begin the waste management overhaul, relevant departments convened weekly meetings of a University-wide committee, known as the Waste Think Tank (WTT), which includes staff representatives from OSI, EHSO, Campus Services, and Campus Life. At the weekly meetings, WTT members discuss implementation, communications, operational and educational gaps and solutions, requirements regarding regulated waste streams, and tracking and metrics. The WTT’s first task was writing and receiving administrative approval for a new waste management policy. The WTT utilized the consultants’ findings and benchmarking research to propose a policy with five main parts: 1) stream standardization, 2) education and outreach goals, 3) goals for sustainable event planning, 4) standards for conference room outfitting, and 5) the personnel support for policy implementation. The OSI and Campus Services leadership presented the policy to all campus deans, the Employee Council, student governing bodies, the University Senate, the President’s Leadership Council, and other administrative groups for approval, which was finalized in October 2017.

The WTT, meanwhile, met weekly to discuss interior and exterior streams, based upon the capabilities of waste management vendors. Once the streams were set – recycle and compost only for exterior spaces and plastics & metals, mixed paper, white paper, compost, and landfill for the interior spaces – the WTT used the consultants’ recommendations, benchmarking research, and community feedback to set bin, label and signage standards for the interior and exterior bins. To collect community feedback, the OSI and Emory Recycles brought bin mockups to popular events, such as the campus Farmers Market and weekly student tabling event, to gather feedback on the prototypes. Suggestions were collected and reviewed by the WTT before setting the final standards. All graphics were developed by the Planning, Design & Construction department to keep with the Emory aesthetic, while maintaining standard images.

The Emory Recycles team took an inventory of existing bins and then worked with building managers, Sustainability Representatives, and other stakeholders across campus to propose bin station locations that accounted for accessibility and space restrictions. Reusing all bins that matched the new standard, the Emory Recycles team ordered the extra bins needed to outfit all proposed stations and then placed them throughout the months of December and January.

The OSI and Campus Services teams met with staff, faculty and student groups throughout the Fall semester, tabled at campus events and in popular areas, and rotated yard signs, A-frames and posters around campus to give community members a chance to learn about the upcoming changes, provide feedback and concerns, and have their questions answered. The OSI also started a volunteer Zero Waste Ambassador program to train students, faculty and staff to lead peer-to-peer outreach efforts in their spheres of campus. The group has a dedicated listserv, monthly training sessions, and a folder of resources to use when conducting their own outreach efforts. The OSI also developed a Landfill Diversion Campaign Communications Plan to guide messaging in campus articles, videos, social media posts, and newsletter announcements. Communications kits were sent to all major campus communications contacts for use in their media.

The waste policy implementation and accompanying outreach efforts have sparked ongoing conversation about waste management on campus and beyond. Staff, faculty and students are asking more questions about their waste, are more aware of the systemic and market challenges in the sector of waste management, and in many cases, are educating their peers and leading by example. Over 150 students, staff, faculty, and alumni are signed up for the Zero Waste Ambassador program, the peer-to-peer education program developed to support the adoption of the waste policy and adjustment to the new expectations for waste reduction and diversion at Emory.


A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign (2nd campaign):

Before policy implementation, Emory’s landfill diversion rate for fiscal year 2017 was 59%. In the first month of implementation the landfill diversion jumped to 68.1% in January, and has continued to climb to 68.3% in February and 69.9% in March. Much of the success of the new waste policy depends on consistent and clear outreach and education. At the end of one calendar year, Emory's campus diversion rate exceeded 70% for the first time ever.

OSI conducted a preliminary feedback survey, asking respondents if the waste management system is easy to use and understand, whether having blue bins for recycling and green bins for compost make it easier to know where to place waste, and questions about the labels above the bins. 96% of respondents said they “agree” or “strongly agree” to the statement “the waste management system was easy to use and understand, and the same percentage agreed or strongly agreed that “the signs above the bins effectively help me understand where to place my waste.” These survey results reveal that in addition to success at diverting waste, a sample of the Emory population feels that the program is clear.


A brief description of other sustainability-related outreach campaigns:

* November Building Recycling Competition: Each year, Emory Recycles and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives organize a recycling competition between all buildings, and award a $3,000 prize for the winner to spend on a project to reduce landfill waste from the building. The winner is determined as the building with the greatest increase in recyclable and compostable materials by weight between the current and last November. https://news.emory.edu/stories/2019/04/er_waste_policy_update/campus.html

* Zero Landfill Waste Commencement: Every year since 2010, Emory College and professional school Commencement events are organized as zero landfill waste events. Commencement ceremonies are equipped with color-coded bins with clear signage for composting and recycling to help graduates, guests, faculty, and staff place their waste in the proper containers. A number of events have volunteers at their waste stations to help keep compostable and recyclable materials out of the landfill and to educate guests about the zero landfill waste event. In support of this effort, Commencement planners for the central ceremony have included encouraging waste sorting notices in the official Commencement program and in slides that rotate before the ceremony begins. See page 2: https://www.emory.edu/commencement/_includes/documents/sections/archive/Emory%20Commencement%20Program%202018%20Final.pdf

* Don't Dump It, Donate It!: This event is coordinated by Emory Recycles in partnership with Housing, Facilities Management, Residence Life and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives. This drive gives students an opportunity to donate items such as clothes, bedding, or furniture they no longer have use for to local Atlanta charities. During the 2019 drive, the campus diverted over 86 tons of recycled, composted and donated items from the landfill. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta received the proceeds from selling the donated items that were collected. https://news.emory.edu/stories/2019/07/er_emory_move_out/campus.html

The Green Office program is a voluntary program where participating offices and departments are given tools and training for making more sustainable decisions and changing behavior. More information can be found here: https://sustainability.emory.edu/programs/green-offices-at-emory/

The Green Lab program is a voluntary program where participating labs are given tools, training, and are eligible for funding to support more sustainable purchasing and behaviors. More information can be found here: https://sustainability.emory.edu/programs/green-labs-at-emory/


Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data reported for 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic year.

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