For Dominic McGraw, his job and his passion merge as the Staff Eco-Rep at Penn’s Law School. At Penn Law since 2011, Dominic has created a path for environmental sustainability by coordinating efforts towards Green Office certification and demonstrating where improvements can be made in operations and behavior. Thanks to Dominic’s influence and the support of the Penn Law Green Team, Penn Law’s annual staff barbeque has been a zero-waste event the past two years. Penn Law Information Technology Services recently achieved Level 4 Green Office Certification – one of only three offices at Penn to do so.
Q: Please share what you do in Penn Law ITS.
I work in the Instructional Team which helps students, faculty, and staff with technology in the classrooms. I also organize and provide support for technology at Penn Law events —things like helping event attendees with WiFi, setting up microphones, and helping lecturers with presentations.
Q: I understand you will graduate in December from SAS with a Master of Environmental Studies. How do you see this degree and area of study playing a part in your future?
I think that technology and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Things like smart meters and thermostats that you can adjust from your phone, even digital books and document scanning all help us to reduce the amount of resources we consume. I see myself as someone who can help others set these things up and lower their footprint.
Q: Why did you become an Eco-Rep?
I became an Eco-Rep both because I wanted to learn what Penn was doing to be more sustainable and to help make things happen.
Q: How do you integrate sustainable initiatives into your daily responsibilities?
There are a lot of different technologies in classrooms today. I like to make sure that things are turned off properly when they are not in use and that the power management settings on devices are working correctly. I’m leading the switch to rechargeable batteries, and making sure that those alkaline batteries that are still around get recycled when they reach their end of useful life.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in obtaining Green Office Level 4 certification for your office?
I think one of the biggest challenges for us was getting away from desk-side trash cans and moving to recycling. Though I have to hand it to my office, they did not really put up too much of a fight. They are a great group to work with and were all about making it to Level 4. Many of them were impressed that so much can actually be recycled now, which is great.
Q: Are you working on any projects that would increase sustainability in the Law School as a whole?
I have been working with the Penn Law Facilities team (recently certified as a Green Office Level 3) to have a more robust composting solution for food waste generated at the School. We’re excited that this project should be getting into gear really soon.
Q: Other than the Level 4 certification, what do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as an Eco-Rep?
It’s looking back to see how many people I have influenced with my ‘persistence.’ At times it can be tough and you think no one notices but you would be surprised at the cumulative impact of what one person can do.
Whether it is letting someone know that something they threw away is recyclable, or bringing in a healthy snack for the office to enjoy, it rubs off on people. Sustainable, smart choices tend to catch on. I advise others to not be overbearing, but just bring things up and make suggestions when you can. If you make yourself known as the “green” person, eventually people will come to for advice and info on their own.