Georgia State University's Path from Bronze to Silver in the PSG


GSU has been partnered with the Sustainability Division since 2005

Case Study 2 // Atlanta, Georgia // March 2010

Recognizing the importance of protecting the environment and our natural resources, Georgia State University (GSU) partnered with Georgia’s Sustainability Division in October 2005.   GSU is one of the few universities within the University System of Georgia that has an Environmental Protection Advisory Committee (EPAC), whose faculty, facility managers, and student representatives meet quarterly to address environmental and safety issues on campus.  This committee developed an environmental policy involving the 3 C’s:  Commitment, Compliance, and Continuous Improvement. 

GSU established baseline levels for water consumption, energy usage, waste generated and waste recycled areas that the Committee determined to be significant aspects.   To address these aspects, GSU has greatly increased the number and amount of items being recycled, and continues to find ways to reduce energy and water consumption on campus.    Highlights of the best management practices last year include:

  • 4,000 linear feet of light bulbs, 500 pounds of ballasts and 2,000 pounds of batteries were collected and properly recycled. 
  • 5,000 pounds of hazardous chemical waste was treated for use as an energy source. 
  • An aerosol can puncturing device was purchased, enabling us to puncture spray-paint cans and other various pressurized cans to reduce waste disposal costs. 
  • Eight 250-gallon water collection tanks were purchased to capture rainwater runoff for pressure washing projects and irrigation.
  • More than 320 tons of paper and 6 tons of cans and bottles were recycled, tripling the recycling rate for the campus from five years ago.

In addition to the EPAC, there are a number of other organizations that help create a greener campus for GSU. The Staff Council is instrumental in finding ways to improve communication and support efforts to make the university environmentally sustainable.  Greening Georgia State is a group of faculty and staff members working together to advance environmental issues at Georgia State University. Woven together from various campus organizations,Panthers’ Greenspace is focused on environmental responsibility at GSU and within the Atlanta community.  From hosting awareness seminars to solar powered events, Panthers’ Greenspace serves as a platform to promote ways for students, faculty and staff to reduce waste, re-purpose used items and recycle items no longer in use.

The summer of 2009 proved to be a milestone year for Environmental Programs at GSU.  The campus took part in an EPA self audit.  Members of the audit team included Board of Regents representatives, trained auditors from other universities, and an independent audit team.  The week-long audit consisted of inspecting the universal and hazardous waste disposal and recycling program, air emissions, spill prevention issues, water issues, etc.  GSU proudly excelled and exceeded the expectations of the Board of Regents and the audit team.

Even with the harsh economic times, GSU will continue to find innovative ways to make a positive difference in an urban environment.

Such as:

  • Find areas that can potentially be converted to green space. 
  • Look at ways to increase bicycle usage in and around campus. 
  • Continue to find innovative ways to decrease the vast amount of electricity and water needed to run the campus. 

The increase in commitment for continuous improvement has paid off, and GSU looks forward to moving to the Silver level of the Partnership this spring.  For more information on GSU’s initiatives, contact Mike Thompson, Environmental Programs Manager, at