Using Tech to Inform Smarter Infrastructure in Georgia: The Ray is Turning a Stretch of I-85 Into a Regenerative Highway Ecosystem

Using Tech to Inform Smarter Infrastructure in Georgia: The Ray is Turning a Stretch of I-85 Into a Regenerative Highway EcosystemTL; DR: The Ray, a nonprofit organization along with 18-mile stretch of I-85 developed by having a public-private-philanthropic partnership (P4) style. The idea is to generate a blueprint for sustainability over America’s highways by using revolutionary innovations and unprecedented strategies to thinking. In the long lasting, the team behind The Ray hopes in order to meet the ambitious goal involving zero deaths, zero as well as, and zero waste down the highway. 

When Beam C. Anderson passed out in 2011, his youngest daughter, Harriet, wanted to honor his legacy as being a leading voice in business sustainability.

She got your ex wish in July 2014, if your state of Georgia, where her father was given birth to and died, agreed to rename your stretch of I-85 that will extends from Exit 2 to 18 because Ray C. Anderson Commemorative Highway.

Harriet quickly snapped a number of photos in celebration, nevertheless her excitement was short-lived.

“Later that will night, Harriet got household, poured herself a wine glass of wine, looked in her husband, Phil, along with said, “Did I just put daddy’s name with a dirty highway? ” explained Anna Cullen, Director of External Relations with the Ray. “She Googled ‘sustainable road, ’ but nothing came up up, so she named Allie Kelly, who was working with the Georgia Conservancy, and that they started brainstorming. ”

The Ray logoThe Ray is often a sustainable stretch of road in Georgia that serves as being a model for future growth.What started with a number of ideas — potentially planting wildflowers or placing a solar panel — eventually blossomed in the Ray, an independent non-profit. With support from your Ray C. Anderson Groundwork, an organization created for you to honor its namesake, The Ray took for the responsibility of transforming your Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway as well as surrounding acres into a universal model for green travelling.

Allie Kelly now brings the nonprofit as Account manager Director. Between 2015 along with 2018, the Ray H. Anderson Foundation granted about $4. 5 million in funding to compliment The Ray in reimagining travelling infrastructure.

“Today, The Ray is pursuing a larger, more holistic mission of defining exactly what a sustainable highway is, ” Ould – told us.

A Proof of Concept Inspired by your Legacy of Ray H. Anderson

In many approaches, The Ray serves as being a living laboratory for the infrastructure of the future — and that’s something Ray C. Anderson, also known as the world’s greenest CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, would have appreciated.

“Ray H. Anderson is the grand daddy of corporate sustainability — your large Fortune 500s of today may not have their corporate durability programs without him, ” Ould – said.

In 1973, Beam founded the Atlanta-based firm Interface Inc., one in the first manufacturers of modular carpet squares inside U. S. By earlier 1990s, investors and personnel in California approached your ex with inquiries about the environmental stance and steps.

“He said, ‘I comply with all rules, ’ but they explained, ‘That’s not enough, Beam, ’” Anna said. “Eventually, Paul Hawken’s book, ‘The Ecology involving Commerce, ’ landed in his desk — along with changed his life. Beam realized, in his words and phrases, that his carpet making business, Interface, was destroying earth for future generations, and it was the personal responsibility to do something positive about it. ”

At that will moment, Ray decided his company can be carbon neutral by 4 seasons 2020. It was a remarkable goal in the first 90s, when environmental issues weren’t yet given a tremendous platform in the well-known media.

“He stood up pertaining to what he believed in and achieved it, ” Anna said. “Today, the company is beyond as well as neutral. And if you can create a dirty manufacturing course of action carbon neutral, you are able to do anything. ”

Creating a new Repeatable Blueprint for America’s Motorways

Today, The Ray serves as being a pillar of sustainability in Southwest Georgia which they can use to inspire highways of the future. Anna told us that will pre-coronavirus, the nonprofit would usually hold field tours and also other events.

“We were hosting almost two 7 days, and people were traveling from as much as Australia to come, even as we say, to ride The Ray and pay attention to the different technologies we have along our 16 miles, ” she explained. “We love to share ideas and learn from each other and then gain back the best of the two worlds. ”

But your organization’s mission certainly doesn’t stop there.

“If we develop 18 special miles involving sustainable infrastructure in Georgia, that’s great. But the idea doesn’t really accomplish each of our goals, ” Anna explained. “We knew we had to generate a blueprint that can always be scaled and replicated over Georgia and beyond. ”

A map in the RayThe Ray is a new testing ground for ecological interstate initiatives.To accomplish that, The Ray functions by having a charter partnership with the two Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plus the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

“Georgia it isn’t just going to help us break through many of the red tape that normally inhibits innovation, but they’re gonna help us scale through the state, ” Anna explained. “The FHWA’s role, and then, is to help people replicate what works in Georgia across the rest of the country. ”

Since 50 claims mean 50 different govt structures, The Ray carries a position dedicated solely for you to facilitating strategic partnerships that will help municipalities and claims accomplish similar goals of their local areas.

A Public-Private-Philanthropic Alliance (P4) Model

Public-private partnerships (P3s) are valued because of their ability to improve solutions and enhance a locality’s capacity to control effectively via a cooperative arrangement between 2 or more public and private groups. The Ray takes that model and can make it even better by introducing a charitable aspect.

“We call how we work a public-private-philanthropic alliance (P4), ” Anna explained. “We bring in philanthropic us dollars that allow states to look at more risk and try out new things. ”

The model is particularly resilient to economic hardship — including that caused by your recent COVID-19 pandemic. “We are attracting shovel-ready projects we can keep going because we’ve got those private dollars that we’re earning, ” Anna said. “We’ve got a model we know is working knowning that we can scale rapidly current situation. ”

Commercial infrastructure projects, in general, are generally critical in reviving establishments. If they can be done in a way that also contributes to a new cleaner, greener environment, that’s more valuable. To that stop, The Ray has several tricks up its sleeve.

“To pick one example, we should always be paving roads with rubberized asphalt, ” Anna explained. “We can take old tires out of your landfill and make a greater, longer-lasting, quieter road. This can be something that we ought of do right now — but as being a society, we aren’t because it’s completely different from the way we’ve accomplished things before. Our goal should be to provide that extra push to generate things like that come about. ”

Advancing Solar Energy Generation Down the Highway

In terms involving future plans, Anna said she’s particularly pumped up about the potential for sun farms on empty interstate land that may be already owned by community departments of transportation. Throughout September 2016, the Georgia Public Assistance Commission (GPSC) approved a new pilot project for Georgia Capacity to install one megawatt of solar generation inside right of way with The Ray. Construction for the project began in first 2019. Today, drivers are able to see approximately 2, 600 solar power systems as they pass over the Ray.

“This is a means to better utilize space during a period when we are throughout major competition for territory, whether it’s used pertaining to agriculture, cattle, or various other use cases, ” Ould – said. “But the land that’s down the right of way associated with an interstate shoulder is not being employed for anything. ”

Right now, many departments of travelling are strapped for income, partially due to a loss of gas tax revenue while vehicle traffic has dropped in the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Our state governments need to cut fundings; they desire new revenue sources, ” Ould – said. “And revenue comes from leveraging that land to get clean, renewable energy. ”

To encourage similar action through the U. S., The Ray has partnered while using University of Texas Austin to research each mile of right-of-way throughout the us for its potential as being a site for solar electricity generation. The results are going to be presented through an future online tool.

In your meantime, The Ray encourages you are not an idea that could help with a more sustainable highway ecosystem to express their thoughts.

“There are countless entrepreneurs out there using smart ideas, so we’ve developed an area on our website named Let’s Talk, ” Ould – said. “Let’s face it — we can’t be at the right conferences, especially currently. So we want to get together as many ideas even as we can. ”.