Lipscomb launches Institute for Sustainable Practice, former environmental advisor to lead

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Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry announced Wednesday to a gathering of local environmental and business leaders, the establishment of the Lipscomb University Institute for Sustainable Practice, headed by former gubernatorial environmental policy advisor G. Dodd Galbreath.

Under Galbreath’s direction, Lipscomb’s Institute for Sustainable Practice will offer the state’s first bachelor’s major and first master’s concentration in sustainability beginning in 2008 and will host or coordinate five local and statewide conferences on sustainability issues in the coming year.

Don Johnson, associate director of sustainable facilities management, in the geothermal control room of the Ezell Center
G. Dodd Galbreath, executive director
In its first efforts to educate the community, the institute will host the “Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee,” held by the Tennessee Environmental Council and the Tennessee Conservation Voters in November, and coordinate the first statewide conference on sustainability in business and Nashville's first comprehensive “green” products and services trade show, both in April 2008.

Sustainability focuses on providing the best outcomes, ecologically, fiscally and equitably, for both the human and natural environments, now and into the indefinite future. Lipscomb’s institute will focus on teaching and promoting feasible, prosperous ways to put the theory of sustainability into practice in Tennessee’s businesses, organizations and homes, said Lowry.

“I became interested in sustainability through years of teaching in Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center,” Lowry said. “When I came to Lipscomb nearly two years ago I found an institution that was employing sustainable practices such as geothermal energy and was growing in its sensitivity to other environmental issues. I also found leaders of the Lipscomb community who were passionate for sustainability. Based on those considerations and Lipscomb’s nature as a teaching institution, I believe the time is right to establish an institute dedicated to translating theory and research into practice among our graduates and through outreach to the community at-large.”

Galbreath, a former policy advisor for governors Ned McWherter and Don Sundquist, brings a wealth of practical and public service experience to the new institute, said Lowry. During his time in state government, Galbreath implemented a nationally recognized wetlands conservation plan, created one of the nation’s first environmental justice plans and led passage of legislation to protect Tennessee’s water supplies from water-hungry neighboring states. He currently manages sustainability consulting projects for clients of URS Corporation, the nation’s largest engineering design firm.

“The institute’s primary mission will be to help further define and expand the practice of sustainable living at Lipscomb University and in our community and world,” said executive director Galbreath. “In the last 35 years, our state’s leaders have increasingly invested in land preservation, water quality and air quality for our citizens. The stage has now been set for new hope in a more prosperous future, and Lipscomb wants to be a leader in shaping that future.”

New sustainability major takes a holistic view of conservation

With corporations such as GE, Dupont, Louisiana Pacific, Actus Lend Lease, Alcoa and Walmart producing more green products and services and implementing sustainable business operations, the need for sustainability professionals and consultants is rapidly increasing, said executive director Galbreath.

Lipscomb’s new sustainability programs will teach students destined for a variety of careers in business or administration how to integrate ecological, social and economic issues into the day-to-day decision-making process of their chosen fields.

The institute will also begin a series of short-term summer educational programs designed for various audiences including citizens, teachers, graduate students, environmental professionals and business executives. Faculty for all programs will draw from local, national and international leaders in the field and world-class researchers as well as Lipscomb's own strong science faculty.

The remainder of the inaugural staff of the Institute for Sustainable Practice are:

Dr. Linda Phipps, a former environmental consultant with Resource Consultants Inc. and the architect of Lipscomb's current environmental science program, as the academic director;

Dr. Sandra Dudley, executive director of the Water Authority of Dickson County and a Lipscomb adjunct professor, as associate director for sustainable engineering applications;

Don Johnson, Lipscomb director of facilities, as associate director of sustainable facilities management; and

Kathy Hargis, Lipscomb director of risk management, as associate director for sustainable risk management.

What people are saying about the Lipscomb Institute for Sustainable Practice

The A.M. Burton building is expected to become the state's first LEED-certified academic building upon completion in the spring.
The "Quad" on the Belmont Boulevard side of Burton is the site of Lipscomb's second geothermal well field.
The energy-efficient geothermal energy system in Ezell Center has paid back the cost of installation in only two years due to rising energy costs.
There’s no doubt that companies and audiences nationwide could use more information on the good work being done in Tennessee in environmental sustainability, said Greer Tidwell, director of environmental management for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC, who attended the Wednesday breakfast.

“(Lipscomb’s) program will help give Tennesseans the opportunity to be on the cutting-edge in environmental technology,” which will benefit all local businesses, Tidwell said.

“There is so much research and innovation going on in our nation in the environmental and conservation worlds, but so many people know so little about all the things they could be doing to sustain our world for the future,” said Jeanie Nelson, president of the Land Trust of Tennessee and former General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton-Gore Administration. “I’m pleased to see this outstanding local university take on the role of educating local business owners and consumers as to how to apply all that information to really make a difference in their lives and business operations,”

“Having a university create a centralized knowledge base is an excellent step in the right direction. It furthers awareness of sustainability and promotes the lifestyle changes needed in the population at-large,” said Mike Leonard, president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, which coordinates the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program for commercial buildings.

Lipscomb’s current renovation of the A.M. Burton Building is on track to become the first LEED-certified university academic building completed in the state by this spring, according to the Middle Tennessee chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“As with the eleven other academic programs we have recently established, including the Institute for Conflict Management and College of Pharmacy, we see sustainability education as an effort to meet the need for current and future leaders who have the skills and vision to achieve new prosperity while protecting and reclaiming our environment,” Lowry said. “Although the practice of sustainability is still in its infancy, we are establishing the Institute for Sustainable Practice because we owe it to our students, to our fellow man and to future generations to work toward creating a future sustainable world today.”

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