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Climate Action Plan

Emory Sustainability logoEmory University School of Medicine is committed to principles of sustainability for the environmental health and well-being of all people, and is an active participant in Emory University’s Climate Action Plan. Current efforts to meet the University’s overall goal of reducing total carbon emissions by 50% by 2050* are spearheaded by the SOM's Climate Action Plan Committee, and include the following goals:

Energy Reduction

  • Implementing energy reduction strategies, such as temperature controls, automatic lighting and motion detectors, turn-down of systems when buildings are not occupied during holidays and after hours
  • Monitoring current energy usage in buildings with energy monitors that are available to building occupants and the general public

Waste Minimization

  • Outfitting buildings with proper recycling centers that include composting receptacles, thereby reducing our landfill waste
  • Encouraging the use of reusable materials as much as possible in all buildings and facilities and discouraging one-time use items
  • Educating students, staff, faculty, patients and the general public about available ways to recycle and reduce waste production


  • Encouraging the use of alternative transportation to all students, faculty staff and the general public, such as Emory’s Cliff Shuttle Program, Atlanta's MARTA system, carpooling, biking and walking.
  • Encouraging telecommuting and condensed work weeks as options for faculty and staff when appropriate
  • Reducing the number of air miles for conferences and encouraging teleconferencing to meetings, such as Grand Rounds for physicians at Grady, Emory Hospitals and other facilities.


  • Providing education to students in the School of Medicine curriculum for health and nutrition
  • Providing an Educational Garden in the School of Medicine run by students
  • Educating faculty, staff, students, patients and the general public about the availability of local food in the Atlanta region and regular farmers markets on Emory's main campus
  • Utilizing Emory preferred suppliers that have been vetted to provide recycled and compostable materials for special events


  • Purchasing as many recycled materials as possible, such as recycled paper products, from Emory preferred vendors
  • Eliminating Styrofoam products from all buildings and facilities, with the exception of reusable coolers for transporting research supplies


  • Educating all students (approximately 2300 graduate and undergraduate students) about green practices at orientations.  Currently, all undergraduate medical education students receive training during their respective orientations.  
  • Educating faculty and staff about proper procedures for ordering supplies, using preferred vendors, utilizing recycling equipment, reducing energy use, and alternative transportation
  • Encouraging patients and the general public to become aware of green practices by providing general information in publicized materials

Sustainable Building and Construction

Grants to Green Program

Grants to GreenAs part of the SOM’s efforts to reach the goal of Sustainable Building and Construction, the SOM’s Climate Action Plan Committee has sought a grant with the Community Foundation’s Grants to Green program. This grant applies to the James B Williams Emory University School of Medicine - Medical Education Building, which was constructed in 2007* and contains 162,000 square feet of space.

The grant has two parts - an energy assessment on ways to reduce energy consumption provided by Southface, an organization working to improve building efficiency and construction; and implementation of recommended energy reduction strategies.  According to Southface, buildings produce nearly half of all carbon emissions, and ensuring that buildings are in prime operation can greatly reduce the amount of energy being used.  The School of Medicine is currently in the implementation stage, and is upgrading all lighting in the Williams Medical Education Building to new LED lighting.

In addition to the assessment by Southface, the Grants to Green program provides access to the Portfolio Manager program, which allows energy, gas, water, chilled water and steam to be tracked in the School of Medicine Building. As sustainable measures are implemented in the School of Medicine Building, the information tracked in Portfolio Manager provides solid data on the financial and energy benefits each measure provides.

Going forward, each of the 13 buildings under the School of Medicine will be tracked in Portfolio Manager and sustainability measures recorded. 

Climate Action Plan Committee Members

Chair: Dr. William (Bill) Eley,
Barbara Buehrer,
Dr. Jeremy Hess,
Shelby Smith,

* Using a baseline of 2005 data.  For the School of Medicine Building, any data prior to 2007 is from the prior building that existed. This data is included so that we can see total figures starting from our 2005 baseline.