Strategic Plan for Sustainable Practice


Georgia Tech intends to be a leader in sustainable issues and to promote action and awareness through education, research and business practice.

What is the Plan?

Georgia Tech’s 2018 – 2028 Strategic Plan for Sustainable Practice is a 10 year roadmap to create a sustainable campus. Sustainable Practice is defined as the “execution of efficient and effective actions that maximize the positive impact on natural, human and financial resources, and create the best possible live-work-learn-play experience for our campus community and surrounding neighborhood.”

Purpose of the Plan

  • Elevate already existing sustainability principles, ideas, programs and projects into a cohesive Institute-wide commitment for sustainable operations and business practices.
  • Accelerate Institutional sustainable aspirations and create a road map for the future.
  • Inspire the Tech community of faculty, staff, and students to support action toward sustainable outcomes institutionally and personally. 

A Roadmap of our Sustainable Journey

Planning Process

The draft Plan was developed by an interdisciplinary campus Cohort facilitated by the Office of Campus Sustainability and nominated by executive leadership. The Cohort was supplemented by a diverse group of campus representatives who provided perspectives and expertise during the development phase. This document serves as a road map of what we can achieve over the next 10 years.

Building upon Existing Commitments

The Strategic Plan builds upon Georgia Tech's existing commitments:

High Performance buildings:
  • Major capital projects meet highest building standards in the industry
American College & University President’s Climate Commitment Climate Action Plan:
  • Carbon neutral by 2050
  • Increase renewable energy generation to 10% of energy consumption by 2040
  • Reduce energy use by 15% by 2020
  • Reduce energy use by 50% by 2040
Stormwater Management Plan
  • Reduce storm water runoff by 50%
  • Increase tree canopy coverage to 55%

Impact Area: Energy and Emissions


Scope:  This category includes any campus operational practice that uses energy and emits airborne emissions.

  • Building energy consumption
  • Utility plant-level energy generation
  • Fleet vehicle fuel consumption
  • Employee and student daily commuting to campus
  • Campus-related air travel

Vision:  The Institute seeks to reduce its dependency of finite fossil fuels for operational practices and promotes energy and transportation options that support human health and contribute to a carbon neutral campus.


  • 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 (2007 baseline) 
  • 15% reduction in Stationary Combustion Emissions by 2020 (2007 baseline)
  • Reduce energy consumption by 30% per square foot (2007 baseline)
  • The campus will offset 5% of all energy consumed by facilities through renewable energy generation (2007 baseline)
  • The Georgia Tech community is incentivized and encouraged to use sustainable commuting options such as carpooling, public transit, biking, and walking.

Impact Area: Built Environment

Scope:  This category encompasses all design, development, and operational processes and standards that support and manage the Institute’s vast portfolio of buildings, land, streets, and campus physical resources.

Vision:  Georgia Tech fosters a physical campus environment that defends safe, healthy, and accessible connections for all and supports the highest standards of design, construction, and operational efficiency and performance.


  • Increase campus biodiversity
  • Reduce the campus community's exposure to toxic chemicals in indoor and outdoor environments
  • 100% of building renewal, renovation or replacement projects meet sustainable and high-performance building criteria for design and construction
  • Develop an effective retro-commissioning program and process to ensure building stock is operating effectively
  • Optimize the use and allocation of existing campus space, and plan for maximum space efficiencies in new and renovation projects

Impact Area: Commitment and Engagement

Scope:  Our people are our assets to achieve success across everything we do. This category supports the empowerment of our campus community and recognizes sustainable operations require education, awareness, communication, and accountability of our students, faculty, and staff in partnership toward shared goals. Success is also based on transparency and integration of sustainable principles into every facet of business practice and decision-making.

Vision:  The Georgia Tech community of students, faculty, and staff is empowered and engaged to contribute to sustainable outcomes on campus and understands the importance of sustainable actions. Tech utilizes our academic brain trust to create a Living-Learning-Laboratory on campus and invites our neighboring communities, the region, and the world to support us in our journey. 

Near-term Goals:

  • Facilitate transparency and sharing of data and information across Institute operational portfolios
  • Create an interdisciplinary governance structure supported by Institute leadership that helps implement the Strategic Plan for Sustainable Practice

Long-term Goals:

  • Support initiatives to incorporate sustainability into academic classes and programming, and link research from sustainability fields into campus operations
  • Embed sustainability into Georgia Tech’s governing and policy making bodies
  • Expand educational and action-oriented programming to increase awareness and understanding in the Institutional and personal scaling of positive impacts on the world
    • Create visual identity of on-campus education and messaging for sustainable action that is consistent, constant, and reportable
    • Provide training and professional development opportunities about sustainability topics available to all staff at least once a year
    • Cover sustainability topics in new employee orientation and in outreach materials distributed to new faculty and staff
    • Imbed programming into creating a healthier and happier campus community
  • Develop a coalition of community partners that support the Institute’s sustainability efforts and leverage learning and action for greater collective impact in our neighborhoods and region.

Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles steered the process and priorities to develop the Strategic Plan for Sustainable Practice. They represent conditions for success to ensure successful implementation of our goals.

Build a Culture of Sustainability | Sustainability is a journey, not a destination – achieving goals requires the establishment of new ones and embracing an ever greater vision of sustainable change.

People First | Everyone has a role to play in creating sustainable outcomes – the Institute should support each individual to make the greatest sustainable contribution in their respective role.

Effective Resourcing | Economics is a critical aspect of the “triple bottom line” of sustainability. The Strategic Plan for Sustainable Practice needs the right implementation strategy and resources to succeed.

Living Learning Laboratory | GT will lead by example and work with students, staff, and faculty to create a campus that visualizes sustainability principles in action, for use in academic and research studies and the benefit of student learning.

Collaboration and Partnership | A prerequisite to a sustainable culture is a collaborative spirit developed through partnerships. Tech will promote a collaborative environment where everyone has ownership over what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Communication | Transparency in communications of sustainability reporting, successes, and priorities builds dialogue, reputation, and successful outcomes.

Impact Area: Water

Scope:  This category includes all water consumed on campus grounds or in campus buildings.

Vision:  Georgia Tech is a world class leader in water conservation practices, proven through consistent performance and reduction of potable water use on campus. The campus operates to protect and maintain the campus hydrological ecosystem including water basins, vegetation, and wildlife.


  • Reduce campus water consumption by 50% (2015 baseline)
  • At least 40% of water use will be from non-potable sources
  • Develop a 100 year resiliency plan for water independence

Impact Area: Materials Management

Scope: The operational practices associated with this category include all material goods purchased with Institute funds and all waste stream processes by which materials leave campus property (reuse, recycling, disposal, compost, etc.). Also included are the procedures, policies, and contract processes associated with procurement and waste stream operational standards.

Vision:  Georgia Tech understands the lifecycle processes of materials and their environmental impacts. The Institute takes responsibility of materials that enter campus and ensures material streams support human and ecological health, and have a way to be recycled, reused, and repurposed rather than sent to a landfill. The campus strives to be a Zero Waste Campus where 95% of municipal waste streams are diverted from the landfill.


  • Compost 100% of our landscaping waste
  • Develop a Campus-Wide Materials Management Plan
  • Divert 85% of construction and demolition waste from the landfill
  • Divert 75% of municipal campus waste streams from the landfill with an aspiration goal of becoming a zero waste campus (95% diversion)
  • 30% of food and beverage expenditures through GT Dining are local and/or third party certified
  • 25% Sustainable Spend in major purchasing categories by cost