“Ray C. Anderson was the founder of the modular carpet-making giant Interface and perhaps the state’s leading business-based environmentalist. After Anderson’s death in 2011, the Georgia legislature named an eighteen-mile stretch of interstate highway in west Georgia’s Troup County after him. Soon thereafter, his daughter, Harriet, and other family members set out to make the highway (nicknamed ‘The Ray’) as environmentally friendly as Anderson’s company.
Using funds from the foundation that bears its name, the Ray (now a 501(c)(3) public charity) is becoming the first solar roadway in the country. This living laboratory offers a vision of how highways could function in the future. Grasses and plants on the side of the Ray provide pollinator habitat, carbon sinks, and soil stabilization. Other features include a tire pressure monitoring system and a charging station for electric vehicles. Solar-powered ‘dots’ on the highway warn drivers of approaching hazards.
With continued support from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, this venture (or ‘an epiphany’ as the foundation calls it) is an imaginative first step to correct a national pattern of U.S. highways that generate five million tons of CO2 emissions each year and were the setting for thirty-five thousand traffic fatalities in 2015 alone.
Source: Monica Medina, ‘Our Daily Planet,’ June 22, 2018.”
Excerpted from The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy.