Kellogg team wins in Net Impact ‘green’ competition
Students raise environmental awareness at Kellogg and improve the school’s eco-friendly efforts through partnership with faculty and staffBy Adrienne Murrill
7/18/2007 - What’s popular, purple and green all over?
That description fits the Kellogg School of Management, which has been finding ways to reduce its environmental impact by implementing ecologically sustainable practices. The school’s students have also been raising awareness among the Kellogg community about the importance of “going green.”
In fact, the efforts of the student-driven Kellogg Greening Initiative (KGI) over the past year were so impressive that the team garnered top marks in the 2007 Green Challenge, sponsored by Net Impact, the international nonprofit organization whose mission is improving the world through business leadership. The results were announced in July.
The Kellogg students have worked hard in recent months to encourage their peers, their professors and staff members to be as passionate about being “green” as they are about the school itself. When Jeff Crystal, a one-year student, arrived at Kellogg in 2006, he brought with him an interest in the environment. Given the student-driven atmosphere at Kellogg, he saw an opportunity to improve the school’s environmental performance while he earned his MBA.
Crystal ’07 was joined by other students from both the Kellogg Student Association and the Social Impact Club early in the year. The team formed the Kellogg Greening Initiative to work with faculty and staff on improvements in recycling and reduction of paper usage. After surveying students and finding support for their ideas, Crystal said the team collaborated with Kellogg Information Systems to use double-sided printing at the school’s main printing stations. They also worked with Associate Dean Carole Cahill to increase the number of recycling bins throughout the Donald P. Jacobs Center for paper and other materials.
Rebekah Scheinfeld ’08 directed last year’s team, and she said that instead of getting a pushback for double-sided printing among students, her peers gave their “resounding support.” “Why aren’t we doing this everywhere?” she said they asked.
Results of these two efforts were immediately evident. Using tonnage estimates from Julie Cahillane, Northwestern University’s manager for refuse and recycling, the team found that Kellogg boosted its recycling by 20 percent. KGI members estimate that the switch to double-sided printing reduced student paper usage by 25 percent.
“It shows that relatively simple changes can have a fairly large affect,” Crystal said.
These efforts led to a win recently at the Net Impact Green Challenge. The competition, co-sponsored by Seventh Generation and Office Depot, was open to Net Impact’s professional and graduate student members.
The competition’s graduate student portion, which was called the Campus Greening Initiative, measured participants’ actions and impacts from the first of the year through June 1. A group of judges evaluated all projects based on the measurable difference of environmental impact, their strategic plan, the creativity of the approach and the stakeholder engagement process.
“It is exciting to come in and quickly make an impact,” Crystal said. “Kellogg has always emphasized a connection with the community and social responsibility, and I believe reducing our own environmental impact is integral to these core values.”
Scheinfeld said that recycling is one of the school’s biggest challenges. “Getting the right bins available is the first half of the battle, but the second half is getting (students, staff and faculty) to use them.” That is why KGI’s next goal is increasing education and awareness about environmentally friendly practices.
One way they plan to do this is by adding a green presentation during the Complete Immersion in Management (CIM) orientation that all first-year students participate in upon arriving at Kellogg. KGI leaders also want to educate students about methods to use recycled or recyclable products for conferences and other events at the school.
While recycling has been the team’s initial focus, they now intend to examine how students, staff and faculty can extend environmentally conscious practices beyond the school. In KGI’s earlier surveys, the team found that more than 80 percent of Kellogg students walk or bike to school — an impressive statistic that suggests one important way to reduce carbon emissions.
However, students display a higher-than-average rate of emissions due to air travel, which includes recruiting trips and experiential learning opportunities domestically and abroad. As a result, the KGI team, now led by incoming president Uri Kogan ’08, looks to educate and provide an opportunity for students to purchase carbon offsets. This opportunity will be an option for those participating in the school’s KWEST service trips this summer. Scheinfeld said the move is a great opportunity to bring awareness about greening into students’ first experience at Kellogg.
“It’s very important to think about what can we do at the next level,” she said. “It is an opportunity to be a leader among our peers, and it makes good business sense.”