January 27, 2012


UIC’s Environmental Savior: Office of Sustainability

By Jennifer Costanzo

UIC’S LARGE campus area may lead you to question its ability to assure a cleaner environment. However, the Office of Sustainability “helps coordinate initiatives on campus that bring UIC towards greater social, economic, and environmental sustainability,” said Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability. Her office has been working towards the “green” cause since January of 2008, and has sparked many programs that are beneficial and interesting for employees as well as students.

THE OFFICE of Sustainability is better known for its recycling program, which encourages individuals to not only properly dispose of their recyclable material, but also to conserve their resources through reusable items, as well as cut back on daily products altogether. UIC discards an average of one pound of waste per person every day. Through increasing awareness of its initiatives, the office hopes to decrease this number.

ACCORDING TO Klein-Banai, one of the new “go-green” initiatives making great headway here at UIC is called the Green Office Challenge. For participating buildings on campus, employees work together to cut back on emissions and waste from their particular space, and increase their green score. Banai stated that “the six areas of sustainability include energy management, recycling and waste reduction, office supplies, food and beverage, transportation, and networking /engagement.”

THROUGH A checklist process, certain goals are achieved every day. Klein-Banai believes that in order to engage employees to participate, certain benefits must be present. “Currently, employees are aware that their assistance with this project can significantly cut the costs from the University through less paper consumption, lower amounts of energy, as well as transportation emissions,” said Klein-Banai. In addition, those involved receive recognition on the Sustainability web-site, as well as on signs to be displayed in the department and logos for departmental materials.

FOR THOSE looking to make a difference on and off of campus, the newest transportation initiative is productive and convenient for all. It is called iCarpool, and information about it can be found on the Office of Sustainability’s main site. “Once an account is set up, the ride-matching software will find people from your local areas who can ride together to reduce car emissions,” Klein-Banai said. She also stated that this program is “dynamic, since you are not limited in your options. The more who sign up, the greater time flexibility you receive in your arriving/leaving schedules.”

“THERE ARE many other ways to get involved, or to learn more valuable information about going green either at work or in your spare time,” said Klein-Banai. A quarterly e-newsletter is sent out with various facets of information, and you can also find representatives present at the Marketplace during student orientation sessions. Currently, “83% of UIC’s total emissions come from the running of facilities themselves,” said Klein-Banai. With all members of the University working together to conserve energy, there’s no telling the levels we could reach by 2013.

FOR MORE information, log on to http://www.uic.edu/sustainability/.

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