Sustainability. It is a term that is increasing in popularity and continuing to take on new meanings each and every day, but what is it exactly? The Brundtland Commission defines the term as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” So, sustainability is broad and complex. It affects everything from environmental quality, to global energy resources, to community hunger. Within the past decade, the University of Georgia has recognized the importance of sustainability by creating an Office of Sustainability, a corresponding academic certificate, and numerous programs to work toward ensuring a brighter tomorrow.
WHAT DOES THE OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY DO?
Students, have you ever questioned where your $3 Green Fee goes? Well, the office of sustainability is able to achieve great things because of the fee. The office was established on February 1st, 2010 to “enhance conservation of resources and long-term sustainability at UGA.” Since then, the Office of Sustainability has supported and/or assisted numerous campus projects like the Transit Capital Program, green roof gardens, and Campus Kitchen. The office helps either directly or indirectly with these innovative organizations and projects that better the campus and surrounding area of Athens.
UGA’S CAMPUS KITCHEN
One sustainable-oriented campus program is UGA’s Campus Kitchen. The Campus Kitchen is a student-led program that seeks to find a sustainable solution for food waste and hunger relief for individuals in the Athens area. The program is led by student leaders and volunteers that collect food from local grocery stores and farms, like UGArden. Then, they take the food and transform it into meals and groceries that are delivered to local senior citizens and human service agencies. According to the Campus Kitchen website, they deliver over 700 meals each month to individuals in the area. This is a complex program that addresses numerous aspects of sustainability. Since 2012, over 270,000 pounds of food have been recovered from going to waste, while helping provide local hunger relief and create community for individuals. UGA’s Campus Kitchen is an impactful program that continuously works to better the Athens community and environment.
UGA’S ELECTRIC BUS FLEET
The University of Georgia and Office of Sustainability continues to make efforts to establish a more sustainable campus with introducing 19 new electric buses to the campus fleet. The university was award $10 million dollars from the state of Georgia to purchase these 40-foot electric buses. They produce zero pollution and will be replacing the older diesel buses. It is estimated that the new buses will reduce the amount of consumed diesel by the transit system by 171,000 gallons every year. The fleet would help to improve the local air quality and decrease UGA’s carbon footprint.
So, sustainability has taken vast forms and meanings across the University of Georgia’s campus and each day students, faculty, and volunteers continue striving to promote a happier and healthier environment and community. Additional information about the Office of Sustainability, the Sustainability Certificate and campus programs can be found at https://sustainability.uga.edu