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Georgia Industries Take Initiative on Sustainability
Georgia industries from carpet and flooring to food processing and government services are integrating sustainability practices into everyday business.
What other sectors in Georgia have undertaken industry-wide sustainability programs? What have those programs entailed?
Emelyne C. (Em) Williams, Communications Coordinator, Georgia Power
Editors Picks:
Almost every sector in Georgia has undertaken sustainability initiatives at some level. This doesn't mean 100 percent participation, but it does mean that every sector has at least some representation, including retail, commercial, manufacturing, governmental, and institutional. Companies and institutions are documenting carbon emissions, developing plans for reduction, and sharing goals with the public. Sustainability does not just include carbon footprint, but also includes other aspects of environmental, social, and economic footprints. Here are some examples of what the various sectors are doing at facilities in Georgia.

Carpet and Flooring
The carpet industry has been an important part of Georgia’s economy for many decades, and today all of the major carpet companies have sustainability programs. For example, Milliken uses landfill gas at its plant in LaGrange, using company-owned forests. Shaw and Mohawk are working on converting post-consumer waste to electric energy, and almost all of the carpet companies recycle old carpet and plastic bottles into new carpet.

Forestry has also been a major industry in Georgia for many years. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is being joined and supported by more and more of Georgia’s forest products companies as a commitment to buy wood and paper products from a responsible source, backed by a third-party certification audit.

A commitment to sustainable forest management means:
•protecting water quality, soil, wildlife and unique resources;
•promoting human health and safety;
•providing employee training and education;
•and communicating the benefits of the practice of sustainable forestry to the general public.

Federal and State Government
The federal sector has energy efficiency, green energy, and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. All agencies are on target to meet the goal, some further along than others. There is some variation in the goal between Department of Defense and civil agencies. Most have a 2015 to 2025 completion date. The federal government is the largest sector purchasing green energy. They also have new sustainability goals on new construction and facilities undergoing renovation to make them LEED certified. They recently moved up to the second LEED level.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s Energy Challenge is of note when discussing sustainability and energy efficiency efforts at the state level. The challenge is for all state facilities to reduce their Energy Use Intensity (EUI), or energy use per square foot, by 15 percent by 2020 as compared to the FY 2007 baseline. You can find additional information at

In addition, universities and colleges in Georgia are working to increase energy efficiency and awareness, not only through the facility managers but to engage the faculty and students as well.

Many of Georgia’s chemical companies are members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), and have significantly improved their environmental, health, safety and security performance through the Responsible Care® initiative. These companies have made CEO-level commitments to:

•Measure and publicly report performance;
•Implement the Responsible Care® Security Code;
•Apply the modern Responsible Care® management system to achieve and verify results; and
•Obtain independent certification that a management system is in place and functions according to professional standards.

Dow Chemical is a leader in this area and is a member of a sustainability group that is tracked by Dow Jones. Noramco in Athens, Georgia, has been recognized by the state of Georgia in 2009 for its business practices.

Walmart, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Starbucks are examples of retailers that have been very active in their energy efficiency and sustainability efforts on a national level.

Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears, and others sell Energy Star® appliances and energy efficient lighting. Best Buy has numerous energy efficiency initiatives, including an appliance recycling program, and is selling electric vehicles in some markets. Home Depot has CFL (compact fluorescent lights) recycling bins in every store in the United States, and Georgia Power sponsors all of these bins in Georgia.

The foodservice industry has been involved in sustainability initiatives for several years. There has been a concerted effort to purchase locally when possible, thereby reducing the cost and energy required to move produce more than 200 miles. Composting, waste control, water and sewage reduction, waterless urinals, boilerless steamers, and variable speed ventilation are being implemented by food services facilities.

The National Restaurant Association® supports a coalition of energy green programming efforts and sustainability has been a major theme, such as in a recent education session for restaurateurs and during the 2009 Hotel-Motel Show held in Chicago. The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve initiative also offers solutions for sustainability.

The Green Restaurant Association, a national non-profit organization, provides a convenient and cost-effective way for restaurants, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers to become more environmentally responsible.

Nationwide Resources
A great source of information on efficiency programs across all industry sectors is the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE).

CEE is a consortium of efficiency program administrators from across the U.S. and Canada who work together on common approaches to advancing efficiency. Through joining forces, the individual efficiency programs of CEE are able to partner not only with each other, but with other industries, trade associations, and government agencies. By working together at CEE, administrators leverage the effect of their funding dollars, exchange information on effective practices and, by doing so, achieve greater energy efficiency for the public good. CEE has a task force assigned to the development and marketing of Energy Star commercial cooking equipment, ice machines, and dishwashers.

Another excellent resource can be found at DSIRE, which is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Closing Comments
It should be noted that in Georgia, on-going partnerships are very important for cutting costs and sharing best practices, such as those seen among food processing companies and organizations such as Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

To see a cross-section of Georgia businesses that have sustainability initiatives, visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Sustainability Division.
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