Attendee asks question at panel event

News and Events

From student groups holding their monthly meetings, to expert speakers filling an auditorium--and everything in between--there's always something happening in sustainability at GW. 

In the News

Sustainable GW launches new energy equity study

In September of 2020, Sustainable GW began accelerating work on a DC energy equity research project funded through a planning grant from the National Science Foundation.

4 Main Takeaways on the Climate Crisis from Bill Gates

With the climate crisis more pressing than ever, Bill Gates discussed his new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster at a virtual webinar on February 17. CBS Correspondent Michelle Miller moderated the webinar, and attendees came from 4 D.C. based schools: The George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University and Howard University. One of the richest people in the world, Gates discussed his unique journey on how he became involved in the fight against climate change. Here are our main takeaways:

 

 

1. Innovations are key to reducing carbon emissions

At the event, GW Presidential Fellow Renea Williams got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask Gates what he believes are the most promising solutions that already exist to help combat climate change. While facing the challenge of avoiding a climate crisis can be daunting, Gates is optimistic because of his belief in innovation. From an early age, he’s always been obsessed with computers. Gates recalled when having a computer on every desk was a wild idea and now years later that idea is tame.  

 

“My basic optimism about climate change comes from my belief in innovation. It’s our power to invent that makes me hopeful,” Gates said. 

 

He emphasized that there needs to be investment in innovation that will have a lasting impact. Planting a tree is a positive investment, but it doesn’t compare to other gold standard offsets such as carbon capture models that pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequester it for hundreds of thousands of years. The investment in innovations that have long term impacts are vital for a zero carbon emissions world.

 

2. Climate solutions must be rooted in environmental equity

 

In the discussion, Gates emphasized how climate solutions must take an equitable approach, grounded in the knowledge that climate change impacts poorer communities around the world in more devastating ways. 

 

Climate mitigation strategies must “be intentional about the equity element of these efforts,” said Gates. “We've got to design that in from, from the very start.” 

 

There should also be greater responsibility to reduce emissions for wealthier countries, who have historically contributed far more emissions than developing countries have. Gates highlighted the unfairness of the climate crisis, as poorer countries do not have as much technology and resources to build strong climate adaptation strategies. Ironically, these emissions were not even their fault to begin with, yet they are still paying the greatest price.

 

 

3. There needs to be a plan for climate change

Gates acknowledges that the young generation has taken a lead in accelerating the green movement. Across the globe, children have stepped out onto the global stage and demanding leaders commit to eliminating carbon emissions. While Gates praises the commitment of the younger generation, he also points out that there needs to be a plan. 

 

“A plan that really admits that it's going to be very difficult. That looks at all the sources of emissions and taps into human ingenuity, taps into the private sector and government policy,” said Gates. 

 

To effectively create a net zero emissions world by 2050, there needs to be a plan that details how to achieve that. The movement can garner all the momentum and support in the world, but without a plan it’s aimless. GW appears to be on the right track by committing to divest from fossil fuels by 2025, but the commitment can only be fulfilled with a clear and well-followed plan to do so. 

 

4. When communicating climate change, focus less on the doom-and-gloom, and more on what’s worth saving

 

Regarding how to effectively communicate climate change, Gates recommended for young people to really tailor their message to who they’re speaking to. Many people have heard about the daunting consequences of climate change, but hearing these warnings often does not energize them to take action and only induces their anxieties more. Gates suggested that a more innovative approach could be to focus on the natural beauty of the planet and what’s worth saving. Fostering an appreciation for the planet helps drive others towards a call to action and fosters a deeper connection between the individual and the greater climate movement. In Gates’ opinion, one of the most effective examples of this storytelling approach is David Attenborough’s environmental documentary, A Life On Our Planet.

 

“You know we owe it in a moral way to not get rid of those beautiful natural ecosystems,” said Gates in reflection to the film.


If Bill Gates supports solutions-driven climate communication, then GW’s very own Planet Forward seems to be on the right track. Planet Forward is an environmental news site housed at GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs for students around the country to publish inspiring environmental stories. Over the years, SustainableGW and Planet Forward have fostered a tight relationship to train students on how to powerfully and effectively communicate the urgency of the climate crisis.

GW’s campus grounds achieves top spot in recent sustainability report

The Sustainable Campus Index, an annual publication by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), recognizes top-performing colleges and universities overall and in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)

Geography department launches major in environmental, sustainability science

Geography department faculty launched a Bachelor of Science degree program in environmental and sustainability science this fall in response to growing interest from students in the area over the past few years.

 

Checklist for Reopening Campus Sustainably

The Office of Sustainability has developed a list of suggested steps to take that address health and sustainability during the COVID-19 pandemic based on GW’

GW renews commitment to addressing climate change, including divestment from fossil fuels

For over ten years, GW has made steady progress toward its vision for a sustainable university, striving to make a positive impact on the planet and its inhabitants, while equipping students with t

50 Actions for 50 Years of Earth Day

In light of the disruptions we are all facing due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we at Sustainable GW encourage you to stay engaged over the course of this changing situation.

Fighting for the Planet in 2020: An Intersectional Conversation on Climate Activism

Last Wednesday, environmental organizations, professors, climate activists, and Sustainability students alike came together for an exciting teach-in event put on by Sustainable GW. Recently, GW was asked to be the host school in DC for Bard University’s national climate initiative called “Solve Climate by 2030”, where universities all around the country are tasked with the goal of starting local conversations and activism opportunities regarding climate change.

José Andrés focuses on ethical food consumption in second ‘World on a Plate’ class

Celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés said he drew from his experience as a chef and humanitarian to revamp his course covering food and sustainability.

Sustainability must be a pillar of GW’s strategic plan

Sustainability is no longer an official value of GW.

Community solar: Fighting climate change and income inequality

Climate change poses a serious, imminent threat to the viability of our ecosystems and species populations, compromising the welfare of current and future generations.

In Photos: Students Learn the Craft of Cooking Paella

In the last “World on a Plate” class of the semester, students met at the F Street House to learn how to make the Spanish rice dish from chef José Andrés.

DC Climathon 2019 - Could Sustainable Fashion Be the Future?

Climathon is a program present in 46 cities, spanning 6 countries - in which participating cities run a 24-hour hackathon for young innovators to collaborate and develop solutions to the most pressing issues of climate change.

Campaign GW works to increase student engagement in environmental outings

One year after debuting three new sustainability-focused student committees, student leaders are working to boost involvement in District-wide environmental projects.

Getting into the field: What it's like to work as a biologist in the Galápagos

Ever wondered why biologists work the field? Come learn about Gianna Haro's motivation to study biology, starting with her childhood on the Galápagos Islands.

Food in the Era of Shakespeare

GW President Thomas LeBlanc joins Chef Jose Andres’ course on food and culture during a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Dolores Huerta: ‘We All Have to Become Organizers’

Workers’ rights activist Dolores Huerta joined chef José Andrés at the George Washington University Tuesday to discuss the ways food and immigration intertwine in the United States and how to fix the problems at the heart of both systems. 

GroW Community Garden and Miriam's Kitchen Featured on Fox5 News

On September 9, 2019 Fox 5 News featured the partnership between GroW Community Garden and Miriam's Kitchen.  GroW provides all their produce to Miriam's K

How Do We Find the Best Solutions for Climate Change Both Locally and Globally, and What Challenges Persist?

There are many conflicting perspectives on the best ways to address climate change in the United States as well as some media sources that attempt to depreciate its harmful effects. This article attempts to provide some clarity on how climate change should be addressed and the importance of global participation for the United States

Sustainability Snapshot: Sustainability Minors Reflect On Their Culminating Experiences

"My culminating experience was a great way to cap off my sustainability studies. I look forward to putting the knowledge I’ve gained into action and continuing my environmental education after graduation!"

World Renowned Chef José Andrés Reintroduces Course on Food and Social Issues

The fall sustainability course is the latest in a long partnership between GW and the acclaimed chef and humanitarian.

Tackling the Population Taboo: Creating a Sustainable Future for Children

Ana Little-sana (CCAS ‘21) recaps the April 9th forum on population growth and family planning.

Sustainability Snapshot: What’s in the air? A GW-based research project aims to gather data on air quality, educate communities

Fresh Air D.C. Researcher Andrew Burwell emphasizes the importance of monitoring air quality at the local level, hopes to use information and community engagement to advocate for policy change in the future.

Look good, do good and save money

Sustainability Minor Director Tara Scully featured on ABC News 

Sustainability Snapshot: New Hampshire Mayor talks sustainable business, politics, and advocacy

Sustainable GW’s practitioner forum series brings energy expert to campus.

Sustainability Snapshot: Students volunteer in Utah over spring break, explore environmental conservation and animal advocacy

Sophomores Marietta DeJulio-Burns and Annalise Morrone reflect on their Alternative Break experience

Sustainability Snapshot: Studying small creatures to tackle big questions in evolutionary biology

Senior biology major Corinne Tarantino reflects on her undergraduate research experience, from GW’s labs to fieldwork in Brazil

GW Celebrates Earth Day

The annual Earth Day Fair, hosted by Sustainable GW, featured fun and educational opportunities to promote sustainable lifestyles.

Investing in a New Generation: The Power of Storytellers to Move the Planet Forward

At the recent Planet Forward Summit at The George Washington University, Planet Forward brought together experts and more than 250 students from 40 colleges and universities around the world to to learn, share, network, and commit to telling stories with impact that can move the planet forward.

Sustainability Office Holds Earth Day Fair in Kogan Plaza

The Office of Sustainability teamed up with student organizations Monday to host an Earth Day fair in Kogan Plaza.

Two new living and learning communities to debut on Mount Vernon Campus

Tara Scully, the director of the sustainability minor and the co-director of student sustainability initiatives, said the living and learning community will provide a space on the Vern for students to practice sustainable living together.

Sustainability Snapshot: Feature on Junior Dance and Environmental Studies Major Berkley Lane

When Berkley Lane (Corcoran ‘20) dances, she gives a new meaning to the saying “art imitates life.”

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy

Who’s Leading the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy on Campus? A report by Environment America.

Sustainability Snapshot: Diving Into Policy Change at Environment America

Q&A with Senior Biophysics Major Jacquelyn Veatch.

Sustainability Snapshot: At Sekoyia, environmental impact is rooted in research

Q&A with Junior Journalism and Mass Communication Major Louie Staub.

An Inside Look at Living Threads Co.: Conversation, Culture and Creativity

January was full of excitement for the Living Threads Co. team and our partners!  Our partner artisan from Guatemala, Ana Mesia, and founder of La Puerta Abierta, Amanda Flayer, joined us for a series of events in partnership with both The National Museum for Women in the Arts and Sustainable GW at The George Washington University. 

Sustainable GW: University Triples Its Reuse Activity

George Washington University made significant progress toward its sustainability goals during fiscal year 2017, a new report from Sustainable GW states, especially in waste dive

Senior brings national campaign to cut plastic water bottle use to campus

A senior is localizing a national campaign to promote the use of tap water and encourage sustainable practices on campus.

Waste audit finds food scraps most common trash placed in recycling bins

A recent audit of GW’s recycling showed that food scraps are the most prevalent trash incorrectly placed in recycling bins.

Top sustainability official helps craft ‘toolkit’ on reducing carbon emissions

GW’s sustainability office is one of nine universities and organizations that crafted a set of guidelines this summer about cutting carbon use at colleges and universities.