Leandra Kern & Kilian Feeney, SEAS Green Team
In response to Dean Eduardo Glandt’s pledge to expand sustainability initiatives at the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), Leandra Kern and Kilian Feeney stepped forward and formed the SEAS Green Team. Comprised of volunteer representatives from each of the school’s departments, the group holds monthly meetings to brainstorm new ideas, share best practices, and communicate successful initiatives back to SEAS students, faculty, and staff.
Leandra and Kilian lead the Green Team’s efforts to improve sustainability from the top-down through construction projects (air handlers renovations, roof renovations, and equipment upgrades) and from the bottom-up (specifying sustainably-sourced furniture, piloting new recycling initiatives, and raising awareness amongst peers) in support of Penn’s Climate Action Plan. Their team serves as a model for successful sustainability working groups in schools and centers across the Penn campus.
Read on for our interview with Leandra and Kilian.
On College Green: What are your job titles? How do you integrate sustainable initiatives into your daily responsibilities?
Leandra Kern: I’m the Interiors Project Manager and Sustainability Coordinator for SEAS.
Kilian FeeneyF: And I’m the Sr. Building Administrator at SEAS. Our office considers the negative impacts that buildings and building systems have not only on the environment but also on the occupants and the academic and research missions of the school and we work with our partners University wide to reduce those impacts
OCG: What are a few of the successful initiatives that the SEAS Green Team has been able to implement?
LK: We are creating eight different sub-groups throughout our team. Each person on the team has volunteered for one or two groups based on their own interests and initiatives. These groups will allow for each person to be involved with what they have great interest in, and have a lasting stamp on SEAS Sustainability.
KF: Some projects that have been highlighted are increased desk side recycling, decreased use of elevators, sustainable event coordination, and possibly a community supported agriculture partnership.
OCG: What aspect of environmental sustainability do SEAS students, faculty, and staff seem to be most enthusiastic about?
LK: It seems each person is interested in different aspects of sustainability, and all have great unique ideas about implementation. A lot of the enthusiasm derives from recycling, waste, energy usage, and promoting Sustainability at SEAS.
KF: Students have been pretty enthusiastic about locations of recycling receptacles at SEAS; a group of students from PEG actually audited our buildings last semester and provided recommendations for better strategic placement. There are several faculty who are involved with research and advances in such fields as, alternative forms of energy, cleaner water, fuel cells, and much more. The staff at SEAS are interested in changing behaviors on a wide range of topics like less energy consumption, less paper usage, encouraging the use of Quench water coolers, etc.
OCG: Have either of you taken any sustainability-themed courses in your free time?
LK: Yes. I am a LEED Accredited Professional certified in New Construction as well as Green Advantage Certified. I also continue my sustainability education in design standards and initiatives such as BIFMA and LEED continuing education credits.
KF: I completed a course in the spring in the Organizational Dynamics program titled “Leadership & Sustainability” and I’ve taken courses in preparation for my LEED certification.
OCG: Are you able to apply any lessons learned from the courses to your everyday jobs?
LK: I do apply much of the information learned from each of these courses and certifications into my job. My job focuses on the design and management of renovations and new construction for SEAS. The new Singh Center for Nanotechnology will be applying for LEED Silver Certification, and I am able to work with the team in detail to ensure we meet the criteria for the certification. The sustainable design standards are also very valuable to ensure we are designing and building to meet and exceed ‘green’ expectations.
KF: Absolutely, collaborating on innovative solutions to our everyday problems is important. Most times the solutions to our problems are right in front of us; we just need to take the time to acknowledge them.
OCG: What is the simplest action you think all Penn employees (or community members) can take to make the campus a little greener?
LK: Reducing energy use and increasing recycling are two of the largest things employees can do to impact the environment. Shutting down computers, turning off printers, turning off office lights, switching your power plug off, and utilizing sleep modes on equipment all have a serious impact on our watt numbers. Recycling also is something every person on campus has control over. It really is amazing how much paper is thrown away at each desk.
KF: Become involved, start small and you’ll see big gains!
OCG: What’s the best advice you can give to other Penn departments looking to form their own “Green Teams”?
LK: Don’t be afraid to talk to your boss, upper management and your peers about sustainability. Many people are very interested in sustainability initiatives, do many things on their own, and are willing to help. I think a large part of why we are successful so far is every member is involved in a small project with others who have common interests. No one has time to form a huge team with hours and hours of extra responsibilities. Finding each person’s interests and working with groups to accomplish a goal at a time has proven to be a great start.
KF: Get people interested in a room together and great ideas come forth…
Each issue, we recognize a member of the Penn community for his or her environmental sustainability efforts on campus. If you know someone at Penn who is "leading the green," let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.