Located in Marietta, Georgia, Life University houses the largest chiropractic college in the world. Once known as only a chiropractic college, Life University has evolved since its founding in 1974 to offer much more than chiropractic training. Life students have the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and advanced degrees in sport health science and rehabilitation, nutrition, biology, general studies and business.
As part of their commitment to health and wellness, Life University has long since been dedicated to sustainable building and operations. Noted accomplishments include the following:
- In 2007, the University was one of the first 100 institutions to sign on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007.
- In 2009, the LIFE Village Retreat, the first LEED Gold-Level certified, stick-built student housing in the country opened. Soon after, the Socrates Cafe was also LEED Gold-Level certified.
- In 2011, Life University was recognized by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal for its contributions in improving Georgia air quality and reducing traffic by participating in the Georgia Clean Air Campaign.
To add to these accomplishments and to continue to “green” their facilities, Life University applied for and was awarded $50,000 worth of Grants to Green Implementation funding for one of their 17 buildings in 2010. An assessment of the building had identified 17 recommendations for improving the facility’s energy efficiency at a cost of just over $400,000. With the support of Grants to Green, other donors and existing operating funds, Life was able to implement approximately half of the recommendations including but not limited to:
- Retrofitting a heating and air system and reprogramming schedules to match the hours of operation
- Replacing incandescent lighting with compact fluorescents and LED lighting
- Installing low flow faucets and a timer on the hot water recirculation pump
Since July 2011 when the final recommendation was implemented, Life has decreased its annual utility costs by 36% and decreased its annual energy usage by 41%.
Buoyed by these results, Life applied for and was awarded another Implementation grant of $49,650 for its sports complex building in late 2013. Life recently completed the upgrades to this building including replacing the lighting in the gym with new LED lighting and installing 2 HVAC controls to better manage usage. Although Life has not yet begun to see the cost and energy savings from the upgrades, the impact of the new lighting has already been huge.
According to Sustainability Coordinator Shannan George, the new lighting is much more efficient, pleasant and effective. Additionally, the new lighting has already saved Life a considerable amount of money in terms of manpower and time. “Before we were constantly having to change the lights and we had to rent a lift to do so, which was very expensive. It also took a long time for the lights to go on before. Now they come right on and if someone forgets to turn them off, they will go off according to our pre-programmed schedule,” said George.
George is thrilled with the differences they have seen both in terms of efficiency and savings and credits Grants to Green for Life’s emphasis on sustainability. “Grants to Green gave us the push and visibility we needed to grow our sustainability efforts. The exposure we gained and the educational information really helped. People began to see sustainability as a necessity and it has become a major part of our work,” said George.
To that end, Life strives to engage in sustainability in a way that meets the unique needs of their community. As a predominantly commuter campus, Life has instituted several practices designed to help commuters meet their daily needs without leaving the campus. A full service café serving seasonal, organic and local food and using environmentally products is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Recently, a post office kiosk was installed in one of Life’s 17 buildings, allowing students to conduct their business onsite. Since it was installed, over 700 people (an average of 7 per day) have used the service. Shuttle buses offer pick-up services for students, employees and visitors to local businesses and apartment complexes so that people do not have to leave campus using their vehicle and face parking issues.
George maintains a daily blog that highlights Life’s green efforts. George was able to glean some new ideas for her blog from the Grants to Green Green Champion convenings. “I loved being able to meet so many different people from different areas that I would have never met before and hearing about things that I had never heard of before,” said George.
Through these efforts and its continued participation in the Grants to Green Initiative, Life hopes to one day reach its goal of being carbon neutral. In the meantime, students, faculty and staff work hard each day to live the “sustainable life.”