Office of Sustainability encourages students to certify rooms as ‘green’

Annie McDonough, Reporter

With Earth Week approaching, Northwestern’s Office of Sustainability is pushing to get students to sign up for “Green Room Certification,” which gives students the opportunity to commit to more sustainable lifestyles.

The Office of Sustainability offers students an online checklist with six sustainable living objectives including conserving energy, minimizing waste and buying products with minimal environmental impact. Students commit to engaging in these environmentally friendly activities, like riding a bike or donating used electronics, which then generate a “green” score of one, two or three “leaves.”

On April 21, as part of Earth Week, Eco-Reps are sponsoring an Earth Hour, during which students will be encouraged to turn off all electricity. Eco-Reps, who organize sustainability activities and represent a certain residence building, will also ask students to work towards “Green Room Certification.” Additionally, incoming Associated Student Government president Julia Watson and executive vice president Erik Zorn met with representatives from the Office of Sustainability during their campaign to discuss having members of ASG also take the pledge.

Allison Potteiger, the University’s sustainability communications coordinator, said the initiative has been successful so far.

“The idea is for students to become more conscious of how they interact within the space they live,” Potteiger said.

Potteiger explained that most of the actions on the checklist are things many students already do, although a few are more challenging. Some actions that are required to receive certification include turning off lights when leaving a room and recycling.

“Frankly, it’s pretty easy,” she said. “Most students receive certifications of two or three leaves.”

Once students fill out the checklist, they receive their “green” score and their certification is sent to them by the Office of Sustainability if they live off-campus. If a student lives in on-campus housing, an Eco-Rep will post the certification on the student’s door.

McCormick sophomore Emily Northard, GREEN House’s Eco-Rep, said she encourages residents in her dorm to participate in the initiative.

“Having green certifications posted on their doors gets other students asking questions about it,” she said. “It starts a conversation about sustainable living.”

Students who certified their rooms earned extra engagement points for Green Cup, the residential competition sponsored by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED) during Fall Quarter.

“The competition of Green Cup was great motivation for students to certify their rooms,” Northard said.

Northard said about 30 to 40 residents of GREEN House have certified their rooms, noting participation in other dorms and in Greek housing has increased since the program unofficially began in 2012.

More than 350 students in total have gotten their rooms certified, and the Office of Sustainability hopes to continue to increase participation.

“The Office of Sustainability is excited to push out the program to student environmental groups,” Potteiger said.

Potteiger said the Office of Sustainability plans to make “Green Room Certification” better known to students during Wildcat Welcome this fall.

Tyler Pager contributed reporting.

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