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

STARS v2.2

Emory University
PRE-2: Points of Distinction

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete N/A Kelly Weisinger
Assistant Director
OSI
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name of the institution’s featured sustainability program, initiative, or accomplishment:
The United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Greater Atlanta

A brief description of the institution’s featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:

The United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Greater Atlanta is a diverse network of local stakeholders committed to advancing and teaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local and regional scales. In 2017, the RCE Greater Atlanta was officially recognized by the United Nations University as one of 168 RCE networks in the world, and one of only 6 in the country. Emory University co-wrote the RCE application with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Spelman College. Emory staff also participated in the Governance Committee, which guided the initial outreach and fundraising efforts of the network and more recently, the strategic planning of the Greater Atlanta RCE. Today, the network includes most of the Atlanta region’s higher education institutions, as well as businesses, non-governmental organizations, community associations, and government at all levels.
The RCE’s primary work is to offer broad-based educational and training programs to support regional sustainable development efforts. It endeavors to advance knowledge and action around the SDG’s, while modeling inclusive & collaborative community and nurturing strong youth leadership. Its guiding principles include building intergenerational relationships, advancing equity, building on members’ skills and assets, fostering a diverse membership, acting as SDG advocates, and more. Emory is a natural leader of the network, as the SDGs are central to its 2025 Sustainability Vision.
In its first year, RCE member organizations collaborated to host nine conference sessions in Atlanta, the U.S., & around the world; send delegations to global RCE conferences; develop a Youth Network which engages university students in meetings, volunteer opportunities & cross-campus sustainability projects; and launch an Environmental Justice Academic & Youth Network SDG training program. Emory students participated in these collaborative efforts, as well as planned and hosted an annual Sustainability Case Competition in which students from 5 area schools pitched solutions for energy, water and transportation challenges the region faces.


Which of the following impact areas does the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Public Engagement
Air & Climate
Coordination & Planning

Website URL where more information about the accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
EN-10: Community Partnerships, EN-11: Intercampus Collaboration

A photograph or document associated with the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:
Name of a second highlighted sustainability program/initiative/accomplishment:
The UN Conference of the Parties and Climate Policy Course

A brief description of the second program/initiative/accomplishment:

In 2014, Emory applied and was accredited as an official observer to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)-- being one of only 50 American universities holding this status at the time. Starting in 2015, Emory has sent delegations to the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). The delegation is typically a group of 1-2 faculty and 10-15 students, mostly undergraduates, who come from a diverse array of majors, research interests, socio-economic statuses, races, and ethnicities. At the COP, some of these student delegations collaborate on one large research project, while others have each student tasked with producing a report on a specific issue. Emory has taken a flexible and creative approach and allows students to propose individual projects based on their interests.
To be invited to join the delegation, students must first take the Climate Change and Society course with Environmental Science professor, Dr. Eri Saikawa. The class draws upon the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a way to explain interdisciplinary issues related to the science, policy, and business of climate change through multimedia. Students who are selected for the delegation enroll in the United Nations Climate Change Conference course, which explores interdisciplinary climate change issues from science, policy, and business perspectives to prepare students for the upcoming climate negotiation. Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives funds some of the student experiences at each COP.
Following Emory’s first delegation trip to COP21, where the landmark Paris Agreement was signed, the participating students dove into the work of bringing the COP -- and climate advocacy -- to Emory’s campus and beyond. The Emory Climate Organization (ECO) was co-founded in January 2016 by members of the inaugural delegation to educate the community on climate change science, policy, advocacy, and action (http://climate.emorydomains.org/). Delegations have also brought speakers to campus and planned other campus events, participated in events held at the Carter Center and the Atlanta Science Festival, and held a joint panel with researchers from Nanjing University.


Which impact areas does the second program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Curriculum
Public Engagement
Air & Climate

Website URL where more information about the second program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the second program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
AC-5: Immersive Experience, EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

A photograph or document associated with the second program/initiative/accomplishment:
Name of a third highlighted program/initiative/accomplishment:
2016-2018 Waste Assessment, Plan, & Policy Implementation

A brief description of the third program/initiative/accomplishment:

Emory’s 2025 Sustainability Vision set the goal for the University to divert 95% of its waste from landfills. To help chart a course for Emory to achieve this goal, the University hired a team of waste consultants in 2016 and 2017 to develop a Materials Management Master Plan (MMMP) by conducting visual waste audits, holding focus groups and interviews with campus community members, and convening other local entities with zero-landfill waste goals. The MMMP includes recommendations for all units of Emory University, including Oxford College, to cease servicing of desk-side waste bins by custodial staff; to rollout uniform, convenient sets of color-coded bins to collect white paper, mixed paper, plastics and metals, compost and landfill bins in interior spaces; to remove and replace landfill as an option for outdoor spaces with blue single-stream recycling and green composting bins; and to coordinate outreach and education with changes in operations.

To centralize the transition to a new materials management system, Emory first sought approval for a Waste Management Policy from the President’s Leadership Council, the University Senate, and unit Deans. Prior to the rollout of the Policy, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives and Campus Services teams met with staff, faculty and student groups throughout the Fall 2017 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 Ambassadors are 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 Management Policy was rolled out in January 2018 and jointly implemented by Campus Services, large departmental customers, e.g. Emory Dining and Housing, and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives. To make the waste overhaul possible, Campus Services funded the rollout of a baseline standard in spaces serviced by the Emory Recycles team. If an academic unit or department preferred a more aesthetically-pleasing stainless steel alternative bin to the standard SlimJim bin, they were given the option to pay the difference for the different, more expensive bin standard.

Prior to the policy rollout at the end of fiscal year 2017, Emory’s waste diversion rate was 59%. This is calculated by the Emory Recycles team based on vendor receipts and any reuse programs in place, such as textile upcycling through uniform donations to the local non-profit re:Loom and reusable furniture donations to the Emory Surplus store. At the end of 2018, after the Policy was in place for 1 year, Emory University was diverting over 70% of campus waste from area landfills. The waste policy implementation and accompanying outreach efforts also sparked ongoing conversations 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.


Which impact areas does the third program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Campus Engagement
Waste
Coordination & Planning

Website URL where more information about the third program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the third program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
OP-18: Waste Minimization & Diversion, EN-1: Student Educators Program, EN-7: Employee Educators Program

A photograph or document associated with the third program/initiative/accomplishment:

Data entered for FY 16 to FY 19, unless otherwise noted.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.