As an accredited course, the Green Greek Representative Practicum teaches over 150 students per year about sustainability consulting within their community and environmental leadership. It encourages participation from Greek and non-Greek students in order to engage a broad campus community. Engaging this community deepens connections between the UW Program on the Environment, the UW Sustainability Office, the UW Greek Community, and a variety of different academic programs (as the program is extremely interdisciplinary). It allows students interested in sustainability to ideate, research, and implement solutions in a real-world, hands-on way. It also creates a ripple effect, propelling sustainability solutions far beyond just environmentally-focused students and ingraining sustainable living habits within a diverse group.
The growth of our program can largely be attributed to the funding we’ve received from the UW Office of Sustainability. However, due to budget cuts, they can no longer fund us. Thus we are hoping to receive $3,900 from the Campus Sustainability Fund to be able to continue the program and keep implementing sustainability solutions while we explore long-term funding alternatives.
View our Website: http://students.washington.edu/ecoreps/greengreek/ or learn more about the Program by viewing the Orientation Packet.
Environmental Impact: While the tangible environmental impact is seen in Chapter Houses specifically, the intangible benefits are far beyond the Chapters themselves. The Chapters represent a test-bed of sorts for students (both Greek and non-Greek) to experiment with different sustainability solutions and see how theoretically great ideas play out in reality.
We’ve helped Chapters significantly reduce waste, transitioned 14 Chapters to water-saving solutions as of Fall 2017, 5 Chapters to full-LED implementation, and helped Chapters invest in energy-efficient appliances. We’ve also increased awareness: we’ve put up posters, had cleaning and kitchen staff “interventions,” worked with House Directors to make sustainability a priority, and presented to Chapters on waste diversion and sustainability solutions (in which we get most of the members to take the UW Sustainability pledge as well).
If we get funding and are able to progress forward at the same rate, we plan to continue many of our current projects, including transitioning chapters to sustainable lighting, water, energy, and waste solutions. On top of this, we plan to continue and expand upon our current education initiatives, including a dramatic uptake in our Zero Waste Initiative for community events. We will also pilot new projects as the program grows.
Student Leadership & Involvement: The Green Greek group, open to both Greek and non-Greek students, has helped over 200 different environmentally-curious students get started implementing sustainability solutions within their living area and community. Over the past three quarters, we’ve had over 50 students register each quarter and have continued to grow. This Fall 2017, we had over 70 students register, and more than 40 register for credit. This type of high-engagement, hands-on opportunity is an excellent way to get students integrating sustainability into their daily lives, as well as promote the Program of the Environment and other environmental opportunities to a targeted audience. Funding from the CSF will allow us to continue providing this opportunity for students of all majors to easily become involved in sustainability courses.
Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change: Our program has 8 to 10 projects each quarter. These projects focus on implementing waste, water, and lighting solutions; solar research, education and awareness, sustainable purchasing, and event planning. Students have the opportunity to pick what they’re most interested in and gain experience in that area. On top of this hands-on work, students also learn from expert speakers, who’ve included Sustainability Consultants from Sustainable Biz Consulting, the CEO of NuePower (a solar energy company in the PNW), and Sally Hulsman, the Director of Solid Waste Compliance at Seattle Public Utilities.
We work hard to promote collaboration, as well as other environmental groups on campus. Students get the chance to participate in mini-case competitions related to solving sustainability problems. They also do a take-home sustainability survey of a specific Chapter to learn more about the status of that Chapter’s sustainability and what it truly means to be live sustainably. Then they work on specific action items gleaned from the survey. Each quarter we do a Community-Wide Clean-Up, where not only our members but other campus members team up to beautify the UW community.
Feasibility, Accountability, & Sustainability: The feasibility of the program is 100% with funding. I can guarantee this because we’ve been running it in a “pilot” mode for the past 2.5 years (since its creation in August 2015). We’re held accountable by Faculty Supervisors, including UW Sustainability Expert Sean Schmidt and the Director of the Program on the Environment Rick Keil. We’re also held accountable by the numerous Green Greek Leaders (currently 14, including the Executive Team and the Project Leaders). People within our program are mission-driven and committed to successfully carrying out projects as a team.
Estimate of Project Budget:
In order to continue improving upon the work we’re doing, we need funds for three main purposes:
Marketing: 75 Fall Orientation packets, 60 marketing posters per quarter (1 per each chapter, as well as high-traffic on-campus areas), 1-2 large posters per year for events. This year the amount came to about $550 (all materials were purchased from Professional Copy n’ Print on the Ave or printed at the RSO Resource Center on campus).
Accreditation: In order to be an accredited 1-2 course (which is an absolute game-changer in terms of engagement, participation, and follow-through), we must be able to fund an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (essentially the Director position). This position organizes everything, from course materials, to the room location, to membership and project teams, as well as communicates directly with the Advising Faculty Rick Keil. The TA is paid for 50 hours per work per quarter at the wage of $15.30 (by University policy) for a total of $765 per quarter. This person works all three academic quarters, as well as during the summer to develop the program for the upcoming year. Thus, the total for the year comes to $3,060.
Motivation & Incentives: In order to create value and community, we also need money for things like a prize for our annual Greek-wide competition ($100) and a small budget for our quarterly clean-ups ($200 / yr). The total budget for this is roughly $300.
Thus, the overall budget needs are roughly $3,900 for one year. We recognize how valuable the Campus Sustainability Fund is in getting projects going and helping them keep their momentum. We also recognize that in the long-term this program needs to be self-sustaining and can’t rely on CSF grants. We are in the process of securing funding from Greek Governance organizations who see the impact of our work in the community. However, in order to secure funding via their network we must go through a lengthy proposal process. This process has already been initiated. If the proposal is successful, we will have funding likely starting in January 2019. Thus, we hope the CSF can provide assistance in the meantime and help us keep the Green Greek momentum going as we build strong environmental leaders and implement sustainability solutions within the UW Community.