April 20, 2018 – The District of Columbia has honored Georgetown with its District Sustainability People’s Choice Award as a top green organization in Washington, D.C.
A Georgetown delegation including students, staff and university leaders were on hand this past Wednesday to accept the award, presented by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells, director of the District’s Department of Energy and Environment, during a ceremony at Eastern Market North Hall.
The annual District Sustainability Awards recognized the university for its efforts as a leader in addressing critical sustainability challenges through its academic mission, physical campuses and financial operations. Georgetown was one of six honorees.
“With monumental investments in environmental stewardship, the District is taking significant strides toward becoming the sustainability capital of the world,” said Mayor Bowser. “Tonight’s honorees have been instrumental to our success in making the District a greener, healthier, more livable city.”
Audrey Stewart, director of Georgetown’s Office of Sustainability, said the efforts have been university-wide.
“We are honored to receive this recognition from the city, and we are proud to play an active role in helping achieve the District's ambitious, forward-thinking sustainability vision.” Stewart says. “Georgetown’s accomplishments are driven by our talented community of students, faculty and staff, and it means so much to us to be recognized for this collective work.”
The university was recognized for several high-profile commitments addressing critical sustainability challenges:
- Georgetown committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent in 2020, and achieved this mark six years ahead of time in 2014.
- The university is now seeking to deepen its impact by pursuing additional investments in renewable energy, efficiency and conservation.
- In the fall of 2017, Georgetown announced a new solar initiative that will provide as much as half of the university's power when completed and will support undergraduate scholarships for students with demonstrated financial need.
- This new solar energy project will also help the university achieve its carbon reduction goals, generating approximately 75,000-megawatt hours of power each year, contributing to a cleaner electric grid and reducing annual emissions to the equivalent of planting nearly 1 million trees.
- The university also features nearly 1 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings on its campuses and captures 4.6 million gallons of stormwater each year.
“Georgetown has a long tradition of environmental stewardship, and we recognize the responsibility we have to aid the District in its sustainability efforts,” said Robin Morey, the university’s vice president of planning and facilities management. “We hope that this recognition will inspire our university community to foster ever greater environmentally conscious action, as we continue to find new ways to best serve our campus community and care for our common home.”
Integrated and Holistic
Morey says the university takes “an integrated and holistic approach to sustainability” guided by its Catholic and Jesuit values and commitment to the common good.
A member of the District of Columbia College and University Sustainability Pledge, Georgetown also integrates sustainability into student experiences and engagements.
Last year, for example, the end of semester Move Out Drive collected donations valued at $176,000 for families living in poverty in the metropolitan region.
‘Leading the Charge’
Through the annual Switch It Off energy conservation challenge and the Think Global Drink Local waste reduction initiative, students engage in hands-on practices that allow the university to cut back on its energy usage and reduce material waste.
The university’s new Core Pathway on Climate Change allows students to fulfill core and elective requirements through an interdisciplinary collection of courses addressing the complex global challenge of climate change.
About 100 students signed up in 2017 for the program, which is led by 12 faculty members.
“Georgetown is proud to help the District achieve its ambitious Sustainable DC vision,” said Christopher Murphy, vice president for government relations and community engagement. “We are honored to contribute to these efforts and serve the city as a committed partner.”