New ventures for Atlanta were discussed recently in presentations from Goizueta students to the city's office of sustainability. PHOTO: kla4067/Flickr

The City of Atlanta Division of Sustainability and Goizueta Business School MBA students met Monday at city hall to discuss key aspects of research projects that, in some way, may help Atlanta become a greener and more sustainable city.

Students are part of the school’s first graduate-level Corporate Social Responsibility directed study.

Bill Hosken, Budget and Policy Manager for the division of sustainability, was the liaison for the projects, which researched aspects of marketing, revenue streams and feasibility of renewable energy projects. At the same time, a group of students from the directed study presented to members of the Atlanta Beltline. Students are also scheduled to present to CARE and Gray Ghost Ventures.

“This is a culmination of about a year’s worth of work,” said Hosken, a Goizueta alum. “Sustainability tends to hit on so many different fronts whether it’s air quality, water quality, energy, food, all sorts of topics… For a relatively small team that we have it’s a challenge to tackle all these issues and master all these concepts.”

Projects were largely fact-finding and consultative in nature, leaving the city or other clients with recommendations and — in some cases — ready-to-use information.

“I feel we got exactly what we were looking for,” said Rob Brawner, another Goizueta alum and Program Director at The Atlanta Beltline Partnership  “The students’ did a great job of helping us frame issues for our development committee and presenting them in a digestible way.  I anticipate most of their recommendations will end up being implemented in some form through the collective efforts of our partners.”

One MBA group developed an integrated marketing campaign for the Sustainable Home Initiative for a New Economy (SHINE) which offers tax credits to Atlanta residents who retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient. The city has worked with Georgia Power on the program, which draws funding from the federal government. Through market research, the team identified target neighborhoods for implementation and made recommendations on media buys and other awareness campaigns to raise participation.

Another team explored the viability of a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which would set a mandate on the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources in the city. Plans currently exist in more than 35 states and the team presented city officials — including advisors to Mayor Kasim Reed — with options for renewable energy use.

A third group explored potential revenue streams for the sustainability office, a key component for making Atlanta one of the nation’s top sustainable cities (one of the mayor’s stated goals). Emory student research used a series of metrics to identify three profitable and feasible plans which were discussed reviewed by officials.

Students on the Beltline project were tasked with creating a process that leads to more working relationships with public, private, non-profit, education and community partners. The request was for a strategy that result in more employees who live in closer proximity to the Atlanta Beltline.

“The opportunity for us to learn acquired skils is invaluable,” said Brad Killaly, Associate Professor in the Practice of Organization & Management and lead of the directed study. “We hope this can be an ongoing endeavor with the schoool… Clearly this is a win-win situation [and] it was wonderful work.”