Thursday, October 3, 2013


(Originally posted on October 2, 2013 on Brenau University's Sustainability Center Website. All rights reserved.)

Have you ever considered getting an electric car, but  thought they’re too expensive?  According  to Hannah Solar Corporation, if you use the tax credit, a lease for a Nissan  Leaf can be had for as little as $75 per month.  This was just one bit of information among many gathered by a Brenau group  who attended the statewide conference of the Georgia College Sustainability  Network, held in Macon on Sept. 20. 
This partial listing of sustainability activities, presented by Michael Chang of Ga. Tech, seemed intimidatingly large.
This partial listing of sustainability activities, presented by Michael Chang of Ga. Tech, seemed intimidatingly large.
“The round table session helped open my eyes on what needs to happen  before a campus can claim a ‘sustainability’ effort at any level of earnestness”,  said Robert Cuttino.  Together with Rudi Kiefer, who serves on the Steering Committee of GCSN, and Karen  Henman, he participated in the sessions that included topics as diverse as  curriculum-building, water conservation on campus, promoting sustainability  efforts among students, and a round-table discussion about what’s happening at the various public and private colleges in Georgia.  The variety of themes was also apparent among  the presenters, ranging from students attending Georgia College & State  University and Emory University to faculty from UGA, Emory, GCSU, and Georgia  Southern, as well as industry representatives.
As is often the case, student-led presentations were among the most stimulating. Here, Emory College junior Rachel Cogbill is shown presenting her group’s findings about a sustainable food coalition.
As is often the case, student-led presentations were among the most stimulating. Here, Emory College junior Rachel Cogbill is shown presenting her group’s findings about a sustainable food coalition.
“The presentation about Zero Waste Events at Emory has got  me interested in investigating how to institute Zero Waste Events on our campus, and developing greater buy-in to sustainability”, said Henman. As the three members of Brenau’s  Sustainability Advisory & Action Board (SAAB) attended different concurrent  session, a whole list of projects and priorities evolved, including more  recycling efforts, studying the tree canopy on campus, energy efficiency and  more, which Henman put to paper and summarized for the committee.  A busy agenda for the SAAB seems assured.
“It was great to meet the people in person that I’ve been teleconferencing with during the summer as we were building the conference agenda in the steering committee,” Kiefer said.  “Eriqah Foreman-Williams of the National Wildlife Federation, who oversees the GCSN activities, was already on my ‘old friends’ list because she did such a marvelous job with the Farm-to-Table Conference in Statesboro last spring. 
Eriqah Foreman-Williams, who spearheads the Georgia College Sustainability Network and organized the conference, gave the concluding remarks.
Eriqah Foreman-Williams, who spearheads the Georgia College Sustainability Network and organized the conference, gave the concluding remarks.
And as a UGA graduate, I was delighted to exchange views with the people from Athens, and learn what they are doing on the state’s flagship campus over there.” 
Henman’s suggestions about a tree inventory and the campus  canopy are certain to be followed up in the SAAB, together with other  vegetation-related projects that are on the burner this year.  A first step is a guest lecture by Joan  Maloof, author of “Teaching the Trees” and “Among the Ancients”, scheduled for  Wednesday, Oct.9 at 5 p.m. in Thurmond McRae Auditorium (still being  finalized).  More rounds of weeds removal  and clean-up are also slated in the Bamboo Forest area of the Bioscience Field  Station.  With a design being prepared by  Teri Nye, and plant selections by Jessi Shrout (both of the Science Dept.), a  new teaching and research venue is emerging in the back of the Brenau Campus.
“Jessi and Teri had class responsibilities, so unfortunately  they couldn’t come along to the Macon conference,” Kiefer said.   “But the three of us – Karen, Robert and  myself – brought back so many notes and ideas that we can stay busy for the  entire academic year.  The key to it all, agreed to by every participant, is student involvement in these projects.  Just like last year, it’ll be a priority at  Brenau.”

(Written by Rudi Kiefer, Directory of Sustainability, Brenau University)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Farm to Table: Sustainable Food in Higher Education

(Originally posted on April 11, 2013 on NWF's Wildlife Promise Blog. All rights reserved.)
On April 5, Campus Ecology’s Georgia Campus Sustainability Network (GCSN) hosted a workshop on sustainable food for the our Spring Topic Specific Workshop series. Thirty-seven participants from colleges and universities across the state came to Georgia Southern University to learn and brainstorm on sustainable dining at their institutions. These attendees included students, faculty and administrators.
The ideology of “sustainable dining” is a fairly new concept on campuses. While students and universities have been focusing on energy efficiency and policy, of course important issues, there has been another looming shift in our country where people are beginning to focus on their food and what their body intakes. We’re not just talking calorie counting, but examining what farmers and food processors put in the things we eat. In the light of this shift, students are demanding their school dining services think about these things as well. Additionally, how far food travels is a considering factor. Reducing the carbon footprint of your campus includes decreasing the distance your food is travelling from “Farm to Table”. Basically, buying local, naturally grown produce and naturally fed meat is important for the sustainability of human health and the health of our planet.  And of course, in a still largely agricultural state like Georgia, opportunities for this should not be hard to find.
Friday’s workshop began with a keynote from K. Rashid Nuri, founder of Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban AgricultureTruly Living Well is an organization with two community gardens in Metro Atlanta’s urban neighborhoods. However, they do much more than gardening. TLW has a number of programs educating Atlanta and the state community on urban agriculture. Nuri came and gave a very inspirational speech on his background, starting Truly Living Well and his opinions on urban farming. We were reminded of why we were there and why this work is so important.
Jett Hatthaway’s lunch time presentation on Kennesaw State Students for Environmental Sustainability’s new student run farmer’s market
The rest of the workshop included a panel discussion with experts from every step on the path of sustainable food to your plate, a project description from Kennesaw State University’s Students for Environmental Sustainability on their student-run and revenue generating farmer’s market, and presentations from  Real Food Challenge and Emory Dining on sharing their practices from the student and administrator sides to promote local, healthy food on campus. The day concluded with a trip to a local meat grower, Hunter Cattle Farm in Brooklet, where the participants were given a tour and volunteered a bit on the farm with some of the routine duties. The tour guides stressed the importance of grass-fed beef and organic feeding of the animals they raise for human health. This sparked conversations on the natural diet of the food we eat and the pesticides and steroids often used in mass production farming.
Campus Ecology’s Southeast Campus Field Coordinator, Eriqah Foreman-Williams, holding two new friends at Hunter Cattle Farm in Brooklet, GA
Overall, this workshop was about giving people examples of best practices from other institutions and shedding light on strategies from different experts so we can build upon this knowledge. Participants, like Julie Shaffer, Projects Manager for Sustainable Emory’s Food Service, commented on how informative and empowering the presentations were. Shaffer said:
“It was very inspiring to see others who are breaking new ground in the ‘good food’ movement. It was such a pleasure to hear stories about the creative work colleges and universities are doing across the state, in the area of sustainable food. Momentum for this movement is growing, and it’s very exciting!”
I believe this was the necessary guidance needed to drive sustainable food initiatives forward on Georgia university campuses. In the next year, my plan is to organize strategic planning meetings with students, administrators, and university dining staff together to brainstorm how to tailor this new venture to their individual campuses.
- See more at:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MLK, Jr.Day of Service

Hi, GCSN folks!

I'm writing to invite you and your students to join Georgia Perimeter College's Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning in our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. On this day, GPC students, faculty, staff, and administrators participate in service learning projects throughout the Metro-Atlanta area, actively honoring Dr. King's lifetime of service. These events will take place on January 16, 2012, beginning with meet-ups at GPC's Clarkston, Dunwoody, and Newton campuses. From these starting points, our service learning groups will head to their respective service learning projects.

Some of the projects include a clean up project at the Flat Rock community slave cemetery, Lyons Farm community garden prep, AWARE animal rescue clean up and renovation, Stone Mountain Park invasive species removal (fancy way of saying, "pulling weeds"), and several other projects.

We are inviting you and your students to join us in an effort to encourage future partnerships and collaborations between our institutions' students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Due to the logistics of managing such a large project, we want to limit this invitation to student groups on your campuses that are somewhat geared towards sustainability. If no such groups exist on your campus, I encourage you to identify students from your classes or with whom you have worked with and whom you know to have an interest in sustainabilty. My personal hope is that this event can provide our students an opportunity to network amongst themselves and that those connections will lead to future student-led initiatives in the areas of service learning and sustainability. I figure,if we get a state network, so should they.

Because this date is rapidly approaching, I ask that you contact me before the end of the fall term to let me know if you would like to participate and the number of students you are bringing. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns (see information below).

I hope to hear from you soon!


What: MLK Day of Service
When: January 16, 2012
Where: Throughout the metro area
Contact: Tyrie Smith,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Water Conservation Workshop at Georgia Southern University

On September 16, 2011, the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network (GCSN) hosted a Water Conservation and Reuse Workshop at Georgia Southern University.  With support from National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program and the GCSN Steering Committee, approximately 35 participants from 16 different campuses came together for peer-to-peer learning and networking, with a focus on water conservation.  Of the 16 campuses represented, five had never participated in a GCSN event before.

Water Conservation and Reuse Panel
We began our day with light refreshments, introductions, and a round of "speed-networking" to help participants get to know each other one-on-one.  The networking session was followed by presentations on campus water conservation and reuse initiatives from representatives of the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia, Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Georgia Southern University.  Common themes of the presentations included rainwater harvesting for irrigation, native and drought-tolerant landscapes, grey water capture and reuse for flushing toilets, low-flow water fixtures, green roofs, permeable surfaces for recharging underground aquifers, and other storm water management best practices.  Presentations were followed by a question and answer session with all the presenters.

Georgia Southern University's Bioswales
After lunch, workshop participants enjoyed a tour of Georgia Southern's campus that highlighted water conservation efforts by the campus.  Our first stop on the tour was the new bioswales on campus.  This low-lying area had plagued the campus grounds crew for years, since water would collect there and make mowing nearly impossible.  By incorporating native wetlands plant species into the drainage area, mowing has been eliminated, the appearance of the landscape has improved, and this very beautiful part of campus is actually serving as a filter, helping to clean the water coming from the nearby parking lot.

Permeable Surfaces on Campus
The tour continued, featuring several examples of permeable surfaces on campus, drought-tolerant landscaping, and ponds surrounded by wetlands vegetation to treat and capture storm water runoff.  Our workshop concluded with a quick walk around the wetlands preserve at Georgia Southern University's Center for Wildlife Education.  It was amazing to see how Georgia Southern and many of the colleges that presented have approached water conservation as an opportunity to not only save money and resources, but also as a way to enhance the beauty, function and appeal of their campus.

Storm Water Retention Ponds with Wetlands Vegetation
All in all, the event was a great success!  With new connections made, practical initiatives and advice shared, and a better understanding of how to implement water conservation and reuse initiatives on campus, participants left feeling inspired and empowered to improve water management practices on their own campuses.  Many expressed interest in following up with each other and staying connected through the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network.  We look forward to continuing to build campus to campus relationships, share best practices and resources, and foster collaboration for water and resource conservation across the state!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome to the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network community blog!

This blog has been created to facilitate sharing of best practices and success stories related to campus sustainability at Georgia's institutions of higher education.  Sign up to be an author and share your story today!  If you have any questions or need technical assistance, please contact Carly Queen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Southeastern Faculty Build Capacity for Infusing Sustainability Across the Curriculum

On May 17-18, 2011, 25 faculty members from 16 campuses across the Southeast participated in the Sustainability and Curriculum for Campus Leaders "train the trainer" workshop, hosted by the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network, Agnes Scott College’s Office of Sustainability, the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program and Emory University’s Dr. Peggy Barlett.  Participants came from campuses in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama  that ranged from small liberal arts colleges, such as Warren Wilson College and Georgia Highlands College, to community colleges, like Georgia Perimeter College and Tallahassee Community College, to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, to major land-grant universities, like Auburn University and the University of Georgia.

Click for more photos!
Dr. Lissa Leege of Georgia Southern University poses a question to Dr. Barlett and other workshop participants.
Dr. Barlett has been hosting “train the trainer” workshops for faculty leaders who wish to develop curriculum change programs, with a focus on infusing sustainability into the courses and curricula offered on their campus, for the last six years.  She has worked with over 300 faculty leaders from more than 200 schools in nine different countries to teach them about creating their own version of the very successful Piedmont Project at Emory University, which annually brings Emory faculty members from many different disciplines together to share and develop strategies for infusing sustainability into their courses and curricula.

This workshop was specifically designed and promoted to engage faculty leaders from a variety of institutions throughout the Southeast, especially those who may not have had access to this type of professional development opportunity in the past, due to highly competitive application processes and a lack of financial resources or campus support for sustainability initiatives.  Over the course of the two day workshop, Dr. Barlett created a space for participants to learn not only about her successes and struggles with the Piedmont Project, but also to learn with and from each other when it comes to strategies for integrating sustainability into their campuses' diverse course offerings and convening faculty summits to help accelerate this process across campus.

The workshop began with introductions to several concepts related to environmental, social and economic sustainability, including several definitions, teaching using the campus as a learning laboratory, the impacts of unsustainable growth on public health, nine ways to change a course, and more.  In some ways Day 1 was framed as an example of what a faculty summit might look like on a participant's campus.  Day 1 ended with individual reflection and then a group reception in Agnes Scott College's LEED certified Alumnae House.  Day 2 focused in on the Piedmont Project model itself, with an overview of the model including tips for success and several exercises aimed at developing learning outcomes and strategies for infusing sustainability across the curriculum campus-wide.

Feedback received from workshop participants was overwhelmingly positive.  Here is a sampling of the anonymous feedback we received:

"We do not have a sustainability program yet.  I feel that insights gained here will help me jump-start a program and perhaps avoid some potential pitfalls.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to have participated."

"Initially I perceived my role as an educator looking for tools to improve my course.  Now I perceive my role as an agent of change."

"I feel inspired and empowered to now spearhead a sustainability workshop at my college."

We look forward to following up with everyone who attended in the years to come to see how this event helped them to catalyze a movement for sustainability across the curriculum on their campuses and how National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program can continue to support their work!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Georgia Colleges and Universities Gather to Promote Sustainable Dining Practices

On November 12, 2010, more than 40 individuals from over 20 colleges and universities in Georgia gathered at Kennesaw State University (KSU) to learn about sustainable dining issues and initiatives from some of the leading campuses around the state.  This event was organized by the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program and KSU's Sustainability Director, Dr. Robert Paul.  There was no cost to attend.

The day began with a tour of KSU's brand new LEED Gold Certified Dining Hall, the largest facility of its kind to be certified at this level in the United States.  We learned about the design of the dining hall with respect to energy and water conservation, as well as improved usability for employees.  KSU's dining manager then treated all 44 of us to a free all you care to eat meal, where we sampled the delicious cuisine from a variety of different serving stations.  Vegetarian foods, including vegetarian protein sources, were plentiful and many healthy dishes were offered.  There was also very visible labeling of all locally sourced ingredients, which helps students make more sustainable food choices.

After lunch, Shannan George of Life University, the world's largest chiropractic college, made a presentation about Socrates Cafe, the new zero waste dining facility on her campus.  All food and drinks are served in compostable containers with biodegradable utensils.  They are testing a prototype composter that breaks down all food "waste" into a natural soil amendment in only 18 hours.  This product can then be mixed with soil and returned to the earth, rather than a landfill.  This system requires no chemicals or enzymes, but relies 100% on mechanical processes and heat to break down food, including meat and bones which can not normally be composted.  Campus Ecology also recently published a Case Study on this project!

I followed with a brief presentation about reducing the environmental, social and health impacts associated with eating large quantities of factory farm meat and animal products.  In addition to offering more vegan and vegetarian options in dining halls and food courts, campuses can choose to provide more sustainable animal products like organic, free-range eggs and wild game.  While vegetarianism may not be for everyone, by decreasing our consumption of unsustainable meat and animal products we can reduce: land and water consumption, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, world hunger, unnecessary use of antibiotics, the cost of health care, and the rates of heart disease, obesity, cancer and swine flu, among other ailments.  Just some food for thought.

Nell Fry, Georgia Institute of Technology's Sustainable Dining Coordinator, made a presentation about cost-neutral sustainable dining initiatives.  These include energy and water conservation efforts, waste reduction through composting and recycling, local purchasing, substituting vegetarian protein options for meat, employee education, and several other simple steps that any campus can take to reduce their environmental impact.

Lastly, Emory University's Sustainable Food Service Education Coordinator, Julie Shaffer, presented on Emory's leadership in the areas of local and organic purchasing, as well as student engagement through on campus gardens and free culinary classes.  It was inspiring and informative to hear about the wide range of sustainable dining initiatives being taken by campuses across the state of Georgia.  Thanks to everyone who presented at the event!  I hope to hear many more great stories from campuses who participated in the workshop and look forward to future events with the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network.

If you are interested in learning more about the network or possibly getting involved, contact Carly Queen at .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Georgia Campus Sustainability Meeting

On June 11, 2010 the National Wildlife Federation, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia co-hosted the first-ever Georgia Campus Sustainability Meeting at Macon State College.

Fifty-two participants from 24 different campuses and five organizations across the state of Georgia attended this meeting to network, learn and share best practices for campus sustainability with their peers.  The group was a diverse mix of faculty, administrators, sustainability coordinators, facilities directors, environmental health and safety staff and students.  Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to converse with representatives from other campuses who approach sustainability from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives.

The following campuses and organizations were represented: Agnes Scott College, Albany State University, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Clark-Atlanta University, Clayton State University, Emory University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA), Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, Gordon College, Kennesaw State University, Life University, Macon State College, MarionEco, Mercer University, Middle Georgia College, Morehouse College, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), North Georgia College and State University, Savannah State University, Save Our Rivers, Inc., South Georgia College, Spelman College, Southern Polytechnic State University, University of Georgia, University of West Georgia and Valdosta State University.

Overall, the meeting went very well and participants found the practical information, sharing of ideas and networking to be most valuable.  While everyone seemed very attentive and interested in the variety of presentations offered, several individuals did express a desire for more discussion, socializing and Q&A time at future gatherings.  Most of the attendees stayed for the entire meeting and it seemed that everyone who remained at the end was in favor of continuing to network with each other, as well as organizing and attending future gatherings.

Already, seven individuals have express interest in forming a steering committee to establish a more formal network for campus sustainability in Georgia. Representatives from several different campuses have also expressed interest in hosting a workshop or other event in the future.  Further, some of the meeting co-hosts have indicated that they would like to also form a regional Southeast network in addition to the newly formed state network.  I will be exploring this possibility, along with many opportunities to continue engaging and supporting the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network (official name TBD).

Needs identified at this meeting: Website, Communication channels, Contacts list, Examples of local sustainability solutions and Future gatherings (proposed 1 annual state-wide gathering with multiple smaller, more-focused workshops, webinars and other events throughout the state over the course of the year).

Quotes from the meeting:
"This is the most important thing to happen in campus sustainability in the five years I've been in my position." - Dr. Doug Oetter, Biology Professor and Chair of the Environmental Committee, Georgia College and State University

“I am so encouraged by the interaction of the group
and the number of sustainability best practices I see being applied by the attendees. Thank you for the opportunity to attend and to present.” – Greg Adams, Director of Management and Operations, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

“I thought the first-ever Georgia Sustainability Network meeting was a huge success.  Thanks for your organizational skills and tireless efforts!” – Kevin Kirsche, Director of Sustainability, University of Georgia