By C. Julia Nelson

Three private Buckhead schools have entered into a partnership to become greener and more sustainable.

It all began in December when The Lovett School, Pace Academy and The Galloway School were among the inaugural recipients of Grants to Green, a program developed by the Southface Energy Institute, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and Enterprise Community Partners. Southface administers the program, which received funding from the Kendeda Foundation.

“Sustainability has to become an underlying part of our culture,” said rising Lovett sophomore Ashley Dalton, 15, who serves on the school’s sustainability committee. “It’s not just about recycling. It’s about reducing use and not taking more than you need. It’s not just something reserved for special classes and special days, like Earth Day.”

Southface spokeswoman Ku’ulei Sako said the grant initiative, formerly known as the Sustainable Nonprofits project, began in 2007.

“The goal is to help advance the Atlanta nonprofit community toward social, ecological and economic sustainability,” she said.

Each school will receive thousands of dollars in professional services from Southface experts who handle sustainability projects in homes, offices and communities daily. Southface will create a plan for each school, taking into consideration the needs that school identifies.

The schools are encouraged to apply for further Kendeda Foundation funding to implement the plans.

“This was a collaborative initiative to work together to tackle a critical issue,” said Lauren Welsh, the vice president of marketing and communications for the Community Foundation. “We can help them have less of an environmental impact with their structures.”

Through Grants to Green, the schools discovered common ground and are working to support one another’s long-term plans to become more eco-friendly campuses.

Sharing ideas

The three schools held a daylong brainstorming session this spring at Lovett, at 4075 Paces Ferry Road, N.W. Students, faculty, staff and parents from each school met with Southface to discuss transportation, paper procurement/purchasing and educational programs.

“We try to accelerate everyone’s learning curve toward sustainability,” said Susan Garrett, a Southface manager of sustainability initiatives. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we gave each school a service and brought them together to learn from each other — to create peer learning and synergy in efforts toward sustainability?’ ”

Bill Dunkel, the Lovett headmaster, initiated the sustainability committee at the school about a year ago. He said the brainstorming session provided a rare opportunity for the schools to share ideas.

Garrett said each school came to the table with a need: a campuswide sustainability plan at Lovett; a transportation plan at Pace; and better paper procurement at Galloway. The schools also explored opportunities for joint projects.

“It was very helpful because the people from Pace and Galloway were really committed to sustainability and had some experience in fostering sustainability at their schools,” Dunkel said.

Galloway’s head of school, Tom Brereton, said he school hopes to keep sharing ideas and processes with Lovett and Pace. The daylong session, he said, “was very informative and was the beginning of a collaborative effort.”

Sustainable futures

Southface will share its comprehensive sustainability plan for Lovett and the results of the procurement and transportation analyses for Galloway and Pace with each of the schools.

“Each school is in a different place in their sustainability efforts,” Garrett said. “They will need to decide what makes sense for them to do over the next three to five years.”

When each school is ready to implement the plans, likely in the fall, a second round of grants of up to $50,000 per school will kick in.

The project already has built a consensus among the schools to be partners in future sustainability efforts.

“We’re going to see more cooperation between the schools,” Dunkel said. “We’re considering purchasing services and materials cooperatively, which would give us more leverage.”

For more information about Grants to Green, visit