Building a Brighter and More Sustainable South

By harnessing the power of community and local leadership, we can forge a sustainable future in the South. The key lies in local initiatives. The Southern Sustainability Institute partners with local community leaders and representatives to transition schools to solar energy, teams up with community champions to incentivize businesses in embracing sustainable practices, and partners with fellow advocates to inspire households to adopt sustainable measures. As we make strides, the South can shine as an example for communities nationwide, fostering an environment of sustainability from city to city.

Our Drive for a Sustainable Tomorrow

As global knowledge expands, there’s a shared understanding about the importance of addressing climate change. We’ve begun to witness its effects and realize the potential of collective action. While most scientists concur on the urgency, there’s a bridge to be built between this consensus and local communities worldwide. The moment calls for credible, locally-focused, and inclusive sustainability leadership and information sharing.

The Southern Sustainability Institute emerged from this call to action, focusing on local solutions for the broader challenges. Our goal is to empower local authorities, businesses, and communities to embrace renewable energy sources, educate our citizens, and unify efforts for a brighter, sustainable future.

Our Founder

Laura Iyer headshot

Laura Iyer

Armed with a Masters in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA, Laura Iyer has bridged technological innovation and community her whole life. Working as a  jet engine design engineer at GE Aircraft Engines gave her a strong process foundation and a think out of the box mentality which has stayed with her throughout her career and seeps into all she does.  In 2007,  Laura and her husband  established a thriving business in Athens, marking significant growth in operations and revenue throughout the years.

However, her roots lie deeply in environmental advocacy. For 20 years, from founding the “Green Sanctuary” in her Milwaukee faith community, serving on Houston’s Recycling Board, to becoming a Master Naturalist in St. Petersburg, Florida, she has been a staunch environmental advocate.

In Athens, she actively engaged with the Upper Oconee Water Network (UOWN), promoting water conservation and health. She continues to work with the Boy Scouts as a Sustainability Merit Badge Counselor teaching workshops and mentoring scouts as they explore environmental stewardship.

With the “Citizens Climate Education/Lobby” (CCE/CCL), she saw the need for  policy advocacy. Co-leading Athens’ CCE/CCL Chapter, she is at the forefront of climate education and championing sustainable policies. She also became certified as an En-ROADS Climate Ambassador hosting workshops utilizing the Climate Interactive, MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative Global Climate simulator which explores solutions to reduce climate pollution.

Drawing from this journey, seizing the fertile times to make a difference towards a cleaner future,  and a desire to work in the community where she works, lives and loves, Laura founded the Southern Sustainability Institute. Let’s envision a greener future together.

Southern Sustainability Institute

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