Ray C. Anderson Foundation Awards Five Grants Totaling $270,000 for Sustainability Research at Four Universities

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Grants Awarded to Georgia Institute of Technology, Auburn University, The University of Southern Mississippi and Arizona State University

L-R:  Dr. G.P. "Bud" Peterson, President of Georgia Institute of Technology; Harriet Langford, Foundation Trustee; Dr. Yulin Deng, grant recipient

Harriet Langford, Ray C. Anderson Foundation Trustee, presents a $60,000 grant to Dr. Yulin Deng for Green Polyurethanes Research at Georgia Tech.

The best way to honor Ray Anderson in our first funding cycle was to identify a few great projects that have the potential to infuse educational research findings directly into sustainable and innovative manufacturing processes

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has awarded $270,000 in research grants for innovative sustainability-related programs at Georgia Institute of Technology, Auburn University, The University of Southern Mississippi and Arizona State University.

The Foundation launched in July 2012, as a legacy to the late Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), beloved founder and chairman of Interface, Inc., and globally recognized ‘pioneer for the environment.’

Anderson’s daughters, Mary Anne Lanier and Harriet Langford, who both serve as trustees of the Foundation, spent many months studying the sustainability initiatives their father was engaged in, and meeting with thought leaders and trusted friends in the sustainability community before issuing an ‘invitation only’ pilot grant request for proposals in September, 2012; a first step in moving their father’s legacy forward.

“There are so many facets of sustainability, and they’re all important,” said Harriet Langford. “Manufacturing, improved process engineering and viable pathways to improved economic sustainability were really our father’s ‘sweet spot.’ He was a learner, an engineer, a teacher and a doer.”

“The best way to honor him in our first funding cycle was to identify a few great projects that have the potential to infuse educational research findings directly into sustainable and innovative manufacturing processes,” said Mary Anne Lanier.

Georgia Institute of Technology has received a grant for a joint effort between Michael Chang, at the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and Mary Hallisey-Hunt of the Strategic Energy Institute. The program, entitled “Vertical Integration of Research and Technical, Undergraduate and graduate Education for Sustainability (VIRTUES)," will offer yearlong collaboration opportunities between Georgia’s public and private universities and colleges and the manufacturing companies that will be seeking their graduates. Specific emphasis will be placed on creating a more sustainable Georgia workforce to take on the increasing technical and business challenges that will be necessary to preserve the planet for future generations.

Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has received a grant for Professor Yulin Deng’s project entitled, “Green Polyurethanes from 100% Sustainable Natural Materials through Non-isocyanate Reactions.” One of the major goals of this project is to synthesize polyurethanes using natural materials instead of petroleum, and to create an intermediate product that will have applications in various industries.

Auburn University’s College of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) has received a grant for Dr. Jin Wang’s project entitled, “Next Generation Control Solutions for Sustainable Manufacturing in Pulp Mills.” The team will be working to reduce the energy intensity and chemical consumption associated with the continuous digester process, in an effort to improve the manufacturing sustainability and competitiveness of the industry.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials has received a grant for a project proposed by Dr. Sarah Morgan, Associate Professor in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials entitled “Increasing Polymer Solar Cell Efficiency through Structures Inspired by Nature.” The project goal is to increase the efficiency of solar cells to make them more viable, resulting in faster paybacks and greater market acceptance.

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and the College of Technology & Innovation have jointly received a $60,000 grant for a sustainability project proposed by Dr. Chell Roberts, executive dean for the College of Technology & Innovation, and Dan O'Neill, general manager of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Extension Service. The project will combine two existing undergraduate capstone experiences from the School of Sustainability and the College of Technology & Innovation, allowing for a single collaborative capstone experience. It will feature an integrated approach for solving real sustainable manufacturing challenges for major corporate clients.

Going forward, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation will continue to hold fast to its stated mission for funding innovative ideas and projects that promote visionary change in the sustainable manufacturing cycle, educating the public and business leaders alike in meaningful ways that propel a revolutionary change in the way we produce and consume products, inspiring a new generation of leaders and consumers, and connecting thinkers, builders, innovators and idealists to a shared ethical responsibility to the environment.

A request for proposals (RFP) for the 2013 Grant Process will be issued in February 2013. Those wishing to obtain the latest information on the RFP process and other news should subscribe to the Foundation’s newsletter.

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that seeks to promote a sustainable society by supporting and funding educational and project-based initiatives that advance knowledge and innovation in sustainable production and consumption.

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Valerie Bennett
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