July 9, 2007
Emory sees ‘special opportunity’
in voluntary EPA
by kim Urquhart
Emory hosted the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 Audit Agreement Signing Ceremony on June 25, joining participating colleges and universities throughout the Southeast in conducting voluntary self-audits on their campuses.
The EPA’s audit policy provides incentives for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously improve compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Self-audits also help identify new opportunities for conservation and encourage sharing best practices among institutions.
“Emory’s vision is to be an educational model for other universities and communities as they promote their own healthy and sustainable living,” said Director of Sustainability Initiatives Ciannat Howett. “Given the dynamics in the Southeast with a growing population and increasing public health and economic concerns about the environmental impact of this growth, universities in our region have a special opportunity to lead in making the educational, social, economic and cultural changes necessary to preserve a high quality of life for current and future generations.”
Hosting the signing ceremony provided an opportunity for Emory to showcase its leadership in this area. While on campus, the representatives were invited to ride the alternatively-fueled shuttle buses — many of which are powered by a biodiesel blend made from used cooking oil from campus cafeterias, and to tour its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings, as Emory has more certified “green” building by square footage than any other university in the country. Even the location of the signing ceremony — the agreement inked in the natural daylight of a room in the “green”— built Goizueta Business School — served as an example of Emory’s environmental conservation efforts.
“Emory’s enthusiastic and steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability are integral to our mission. They represent the foundation of a healthy environment for teaching, learning and living at Emory,” said President Jim Wagner. “We look forward to working with the EPA to support their greater environmental goals.”
While the EPA’s self-audit will be focused on regulatory compliance, “for us it’s about going beyond compliance,” Howett said. Emory is also committed to shaping the quality of life for future generations through conserving energy and water, providing alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, serving local and organic foods, diverting waste streams to recycling, and demonstrating leadership in sustainability practices in many other ways. Howett said the voluntary audit will set a baseline for measuring the progress of the University’s sustainability initiative, which is in its first year.
Under the EPA agreement, participating colleges and universities will be audited by their peers over the next two years, Howett said. This week, Emory is playing host yet again — serving as the training site for peer auditors in Georgia. Howett sees far-reaching benefits for the University.
“In the end, we will have a whole team of internal people who have been trained on this audit, and they will be on hand to ensure that we are in a continuous state of self-monitoring and compliance assurance at Emory,” she said. “And that’s what’s really exciting about this.”