The Green Labs Project Group is working with the Office of Sustainability to improve both energy efficiency and recycling in laboratory buildings on campus, specifically the Searle Chemistry Laboratory and the Gordon Center for Integrative Sciences. As energy consumption on our campus contributes to approximately 70 percent of the University’s GHG emissions, our project group aims to implement: the shut the sash program with chemical fume hood safety training and proper communications and rigorous recycling programs to reduce physical waste. Using data from the Building Automation System and regular waste audits, our group is tracking daily changes in emissions and waste throughout the implementation of these projects while also evaluating qualitative surveys of laboratory members to better enact sustainable practices in UChicago’s largest research facilities.
The Composting group aims to reduce the amount of waste that enters the landfill at UChicago via setting up a composting program. During Fall Quarter of 2018, our group increased awareness of sustainability programs in the campus cafes and met with different composting providers and waste management companies around the city of Chicago. In the coming quarters we hope to make substantive progress in working with the University administration to make composting on campus a reality.
The service group works with organizations within the University of Chicago and around Hyde Park to provide service opportunities to members of PSI as well as help make the community more sustainable. Last quarter the service group winterized Vernon Park Gardens, a community garden in West Woodlawn. This quarter we are planning a fundraiser to raise money for the charity Growing Home, designing a course about permaculture to teach to schools around the community and developing a partnership with Chicago Eco House to create more opportunities within PSI to help make Hyde Park and the surrounding areas more sustainable.
Green Careers Panel
We organize the Green Careers Panel every year where students are able to engage with professionals working in the sustainable field through a panel discussion. We invite speakers from a wide range within the field, from architects, government workers, to engineers and get to hear how they pursue a sustainable future through their work. The event also functions as a networking event where students interested in a career in the sustainable field can exchange information and reach out further more to these professionals.
Green Careers Trek
The Green Careers Treks team collaborates with the Office of Career Advancement to organize Career Treks for students interested in pursuing sustainability-related careers. These treks help students 1) discover the breadth of career opportunities available in the sustainability field, 2) meet professionals, network, and learn about their career paths, and finally 3) discover what it is like to work at a company or organization focused on environmental sustainability. We have an annual trek in Chicago, and in the past have featured the National Resources Defense Council, UChicago Urban Labs, the Field Museum and more! This year, we are partnering up with Career Advancement to send students to Boston during spring break– this will be the first external Career Trek in PSI history.
Hyde Park Business Partnership (HPBP)
Hyde Park Business Partnership focuses on providing pro bono green consulting services to local businesses. We provide resource-saving strategies and practices that cut costs and positively impact the environment. Last year, we established partnerships with TrueNorth Cafe and Sanctuary Cafe and are currently seeking to further expand our network while continuing to refine our available services.
Check out their website!
PSI Speaker Series
The Speaker Series invite speakers to come to campus and give a presentation about their work as a way for students to recognize and learn from the diverse work going on in the environmental community. In the past, we have invited CEOs from non-profits and a director from a public relations firm. We also partnered with the Energy Policy at the Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) to host the director of NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program Jacqueline Patterson for a discussion on the environment as a human rights issue.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle team is dedicated to reducing waste on campus and educating our school community members about sustainable habits. Some examples of our current projects include creating an online poll on recycling behavior to send throughout housing as well as developing an informative recycling presentation for campus Sustainability Czars to present in their respective houses. Through our work, we hope to raise awareness of environmental issues and reduce UChicago’s ecological footprint.
RSO Sustainability Partners
The RSO Partners team focuses on reaching out and partnering with other RSO’s to make their events more green. Our main drive is to coordinate and send volunteers to participating RSO events to ensure that event participants separate waste and recycling properly. Beyond that, we also advocate for green practices within RSO practices, both to RSO leaders and to student government. Most recently, we partnered with CC to change reimbursement rates of plastics and biodegradable cutlery and plates to encourage RSO’s to use biodegradable.
As part of the national Food Recovery Network, the Food Recovery Group is dedicated to addressing environmental justice and food insecurity by recovering food that would normally be wasted on campus and donating it to local community centers and homeless shelters. So far, we’ve recovered over a thousand pounds of food from the dining halls and from on- and off-campus events for the Chicago City Life Center and Margaret’s Village. For this upcoming year, in addition to our regular event recoveries, we will be recovering from the dining halls on a weekly basis and anticipate expanding to recovering from Pret and local businesses. We are also working on driving additional food waste awareness campaigns.