The 10th cohort of students to participate in the Carbon Reduction Challenge at the Georgia Institute of Technology gathered on August 14th in a crowded atrium full of eager visitors. These students came prepared to present their solutions for reducing carbon emissions across a diverse set of organizations that hosted Georgia Tech interns and co-op students this past summer.
A team of Georgia Tech interns who worked with SunTrust were the winners of this Challenge with a program that reduces the financial giant’s CO2 impact by millions of pounds over a five-year period. Specifically, these students identified opportunities for SunTrust employees to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel. A key provision of their proposal was implemented last month – changing the default for rental cars from intermediate to economy size. In addition to the carbon reductions, this initiative will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in net savings over the next five years.
The winning team was presented with an FSC-certified wooden trophy plaque, and each team member was presented with a copy of Ray C. Anderson’s book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, as well as Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken.
Kim Cobb, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and developer of the Challenge, said that this cohort of more than 20 students and their innovative projects amount to over two million pounds of CO2 savings per year; an all-time record for the program.
This Challenge came with a new twist, as Kim Cobb partnered with L. Beril Toktay, faculty director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, to add more depth to the program by making it a cross-college initiative between the Scheller College of Business and the College of Sciences, and by expanding its scope to Georgia Tech students participating in internship and co-op programs in industry.
The new, expanded scope allowed students to work with their employers to develop solid, measurable carbon reduction programs that would provide environmental benefits and deliver real-world savings. The expansion of the Carbon Reduction Challenge was funded with a grant from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation’s NextGen Committee, comprised of Ray Anderson’s five grandchildren and their spouses. Click here to read more about the grant.