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Shades of Green: new beginnings a time to take action

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shades of green
“Shades of Green,” a column on environmental issues related to the UIC campus and community, appears monthly in UIC News.

There is something about new beginnings that is exciting, hopeful and fun.

At the start of a new year, many people make resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, adhere to a monthly budget or open their mail every day so bills don’t pile up for weeks (OK, maybe that’s just my New Year’s resolution).

But we rarely achieve those goals because it’s difficult to keep that momentum and excitement going. As my personal trainer tells me (yep, that’s my other resolution), I should set SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely — to help focus my efforts.

The past few columns of “Shades of Green” have focused on what we can do as individuals to reduce our own carbon footprint. We can set SMART goals focusing on small behaviors, since it’s difficult to change your lifestyle overnight.

For 2009, UIC is making its own New Year’s resolution to reduce its carbon footprint by creating a Climate Action Plan. UIC recognizes that as part of the local and global community, it should be a responsible steward of the environment.

The Climate Action Plan will focus on steps that the institution, faculty, students and staff can do to reduce UIC’s greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Chicago unveiled its Climate Action Plan, even offering its residents the opportunity to take the $800 Savings Challenge to see how their commitments, such as reducing shower time by two minutes, can save money — $126 per year.

The Office of Sustainability and the Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy are developing UIC’s Climate Action Plan.

The plan will focus on SMART goals and strategies for energy efficiency and conservation, clean and renewable energy resources, improved transportation options, improved grounds options, recycling and reducing waste streams, employment strategies and campus engagement.

In the next few months, you may see announcements for presentations and town hall meetings to discuss the climate action plan. We encourage you to participate and send your feedback to the Office of Sustainability.

Developing a climate action plan is an educational and collaborative process, requiring the buy-in of the campus community. We welcome the opportunity to speak to classes or as part of a seminar series. To learn more, contact us at sustainability@uic.edu

Monica Rausa Williams is director of outreach for the Office of Sustainability and co-chair of the Chancellor’s Committee for Sustainability and Energy. Send comments and suggestions to sustainability@uic.edu

Previous columns

Holiday lights need more green (12/03/08)

Start off small when making home 'green' (11/12/08)

No more excuses! It's time to bike (10/08/08)

Measuring your carbon footprint (09/10/08)

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