The UGA Office of Sustainability strives to create a culture of environmental awareness on campus and to create projects and initiatives that ultimately will decrease the university's environmental footprint.
In keeping with those goals, the office awarded $40,000 in grants Dec. 6 to 10 student environmental projects at its Fall 2017 Semester in Review program. The reception recognized all the programs and individuals at the university dedicated to sustainability.
"Our commitment is to create inspired leaders, stronger communities and thriving natural systems," said Kevin Kirsche, the office's director. "At the Semester in Review, we celebrate the small but significant actions of our students, who are grappling with grand challenges and practicing ‘doing unto to others.' "
Through the efforts of the Office of Sustainability, the university is making great gains in its environmental efforts. According to Kirsche, the UGA Athens campus is using 24 percent less energy per square foot than it was in 2007. There also has been a 25 percent reduction in the university's total greenhouse gas admissions since 2010.
John R. Seydel, the director of sustainability for the city of Atlanta's Office of Resilience spoke at the event, detailing some of the gains Atlanta is making in the environmental effort, including the Better Buildings Challenge, in which the city saved more than $25 million by designating 115 million square feet of land to 20 percent deductions in energy and water use.
Students William Fox, Vasser Seydel and Melissa Gurevitch also spoke about their work as the office's Bike UGA, Grants and Engagement and Zero Waste interns, respectively.
The event also honored five students who received the Sustainability Certificate: Tommy Lehner, Madison Loudermilk, Courtney McCorstin, Bailey Shea and David Thomas.
"I can say, without exception, that I have never been more impressed and inspired by the students I'm working with now," said Ron Balthazor, the director of the Sustainability Certificate program.
The recipients of the office's grants are Kristen Lear for "Build It and They Will Come: Building Bat Houses and Creating Habitat for Bat Conservation and Environmental Awareness," Suzie Henderson for "Connect to Protect the Monarchs," Teri Rakusin for "Generating Educational and Research Opportunities Through Medicinal Herb Production at UGArden," Jaiko Celka for "Market on the Move (creating mobile farmers markets with Athens Land Trust)," William Fox for "UGAfforestation: Measuring Carbon Sequestered in Trees of UGA and Planting Native Trees to Revitalize Lilly Branch Watershed," Sam Cherof for "4 Precious Plastic Recycling Machines," Emma Courson for "Season Extension in the UGA Geography Department Roof Garden," Ashwini Kannan for "Tracking and Managing Non-Point Source Pollution at Lake Herrick Watershed," Kelsey Brooks for "Trailing Granitic Outcrop Plant Species on Extensive Vegetated Roof Systems" and Haley White for "Estimating Material and Energy Needs of Green Spaces on UGA's Campus."
Written by: James Lichtenwalter