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Gregg Hall Goes Green

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
November 5, 2008

The rest of the university community could take this as a challenge: a Green Team has been created at Gregg Hall. Initially, the goal wasn’t to make the rest of us step up but if that’s a result then it’s a good one.

Here’s why: The Green Team aims to make Gregg Hall as sustainable as possible.

Well, of course, you may think, given it’s home to the Environmental Research Group and other ecologically supportive research centers. But the staff didn’t have to get involved. And they have.

The Green Team organized in September after members attended a Greening Your Office workshop. In response, graduate student Whitney Blanchard emailed everybody in the Environmental Research Group suggesting the formation of a green team and urging people to get involved.

The goal was to identify environmental projects the team could tackle at the department level and throughout the building.

People came to the first meeting with sundry ideas. Already they have started composting, are trying to get their computers shut off at night and have reduced paper use.

Gregg Hall has four kitchens, one on each floor. There are now compost bins in all of them. All food scraps are collected. The bins are taken outside daily.

The group has been trying to conduct a carbon footprint of the building so they can find ways to reduce their output. Computers have been routed to one main printer that prints on both sides, saving electricity and paper.

A bike shelter is also being explored.

“We’d also like to install double flush toilets and waterless urinals,” says Kristin Bailey-McCarthy, program support assistant at the Coastal Response Research Center. “And we’re installing motion sensors in kitchens. They’re already in bathrooms; we want them in the kitchen and lounges where people don’t always remember to shut off the lights.”

A blog (http://gregghallgreenteam.wordpress.com/ ) launched by Colleen Mitchell, communications coordinator for the Environmental Research Group, keeps the Green Team up-to-date on initiatives and their progress.

“I love that the team is a cooperative effort. We have the support of the ERG director Kevin Gardner but no one is ‘in charge,’" Mitchell says. “We bring our individual interests and strengths to the group. One person is interested in biking as alternative transportation so he's looking into bike racks and lockers; another is sick of turning off the kitchen lights so he's looking into motion sensors.”

Prior to the workshop, there were people who were concerned about finding ways to reduce waste, Mitchell says. The group is open to anyone in Gregg Hall.
Meetings minutes are posted on the blog.

Bailey-McCarthy says the group would like to see other departments and buildings form their own green teams and offered this mild challenge:

“We want it to be like the competition students have in the residences’ halls (Wastewatch Challenge http://www.unh.edu/etf/challenge.html ),” she says. “It would be awesome if other people got involved.”

Mitchell says it’s all about awareness and action. And while the group is so new there isn’t even a budget, the willingness to make changes is there.

“We don't have any sort of mantra or motto but our intention is to make Gregg Hall an environmentally responsible workplace,” Mitchell says. “It's not catchy but it's succinct!”

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