Reducing carbon emissions is a global challenge that calls for public policy solutions as well as individual action and corporate responsibility. A team of students from Georgia Tech’s “Energy, the Environment and Society” class had a chance to influence public policy this past May when they went to Washington D.C. to present findings from their annual Carbon Reduction Challenge.
The goal of the yearly competition is to see which group can reduce emissions the most over an eight-week period. Teams provide evidence that the carbon reductions would not have happened without their interventions and document the resulting cost savings.
This year’s winning team — James Barazesh, Mitchell Blenden, Tyler Folse, and Mary Shoemaker — traveled to Capitol Hill to present their findings to state policymakers. “Each representative responded differently,” said Shoemaker, a public policy student. “But each made a point of addressing the aspects of our interests that converged with theirs.”
The team, whose reductions were the most ever achieved in the class, succeeded in keeping 94,000 pounds of CO2 out of the air for a savings of $10,000. Two-thirds of their reductions came from persuading a British Petroleum facility to simply adjust its lighting schedule by 30 minutes. The other third came from altered commuting practices among team members’ friends and family.