The Office of Sustainability was initiated in 2010 as part of a strategic directive to enhance conservation of resources and long-term sustainability at the University of Georgia. President Michael F. Adams established the Office in response to campus-wide recommendations and student-led initiatives, including the 2009 Report of the Working Group on Sustainability at the University of Georgia and The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) student-led campaign. Primary responsibilities of the Office include coordination, communication and advancement of sustainability initiatives at the University of Georgia.
Formation of the Office of Sustainability had been a topic of discussion on campus for several years. The idea was first officially documented in the 2007 Every Drop Counts Report of the Ad-Hoc Task Force on Water Resources which recommended creation of an Office of Sustainability to coordinate and promote campus-wide resource conservation efforts. In 2008, students of the Go Green Alliance submitted the Student-Initiated Proposal for Sustainable Practices at UGA with the long-term priority of establishing an Office of Sustainability. In 2009, UGA President Michael F. Adams convened the campus-wide Working Group on Sustainability to document current sustainability efforts and recommend strategies to coordinate and communicate those activities. One of the strategies recommended by the Working Group was to establish a coordinating body to oversee sustainability efforts and maximize awareness on campus.
Concurrent to efforts of the 2009 Working Group on Sustainability, students of the Go Green Alliance launched a campaign to fund an Office of Sustainability. The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) – modeled after a similar campaign by students at the University of California Berkley – sought to fund the new office through a self-imposed “student green fee”. The student-led campaign incorporated social networking and creative PR strategies to gain interest and momentum for a $3 per semester fee to fund sustainability efforts on campus. A petition totaling over 1000 signatures secured a place for TGIF on the Student Government Association ballot in the Spring of 2009. The resolution passed with overwhelming support from the student body, securing more votes than all of the SGA candidates combined. Due to significant student support, the proposal was subsequently approved by the UGA Mandatory Fees Committee and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.
With the recommendations of various campus committees and overwhelming interest from UGA students – even to the point of providing funds during challenging economic times – President Adams had the foundational support necessary to officially create the new Office of Sustainability. The office was formed on February 1, 2010 and placed within the UGA Facilities Management Division to impact a culture of sustainability rooted in campus operations. Student green fee funds to support the office and other sustainability initiatives at UGA were first collected as part of tuition payments for Fall 2010.