Peace Corps Leading Chicago Green Office Challenge



The city of Chicago’s Green Office Challenge launched its third round in February as a free, friendly competition among local businesses to help them reduce their energy, water and waste consumption by participating in activities ranging from developing a green purchasing plan to encouraging employees to take alternative modes of transportation to work. By the end of March, 138 companies had committed to participating and 445 individual users are actively competing daily for points. Attending a sustainability community event, for example, yields the company 50 points.

The Peace Corps Midwest Region Office achieved Tier 3 status in round 2 and has been leading the pack almost every week this year. “As employees of the Peace Corps, we are inherently motivated to make a difference for our communities and environment, both overseas and right here at home,” says Tara Dolan, sustainability leader for the Peace Corps Midwest Region office. “But the Green Office Challenge really propels us into action. It helps us benchmark our progress and reach goals and continuously strive to think of new ways to go green.”

Dolan credits having the full support of the Peace Corps’ top leadership and the agency-wide Green Team as part of the reason for their current leadership status. “Here in the office, we challenge each other’s thinking about the choices we make; it’s part of our lunchroom conversations, staff meetings and retreats and email conversations,” she adds, giving props to her colleagues. Two of them avidly bicycle to work, sharing tips and safety information about how to do the same; another introduced a worm-composting bin, while another continually searches for ways to reduce paper use.

It is stories and leaders like these that will make the difference, according to Vanessa Roanhorse, project manager at Delta Institute, the organization managing the Challenge. “Tara and her team are doing an incredible job with the Challenge,” she says. “When they see that another company bumps them to the number two slot, they immediately find another activity to complete so they can retain that top spot.” She notes that while their goal is to help reduce energy, water and waste consumption in Chicago, making it fun and interactive really motivates people.


To learn more about the Chicago Green Office Challenge or sign up for free, visit ChicagoGOC.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Fracking in Southern Illinois Raises Widespread Concerns

Environmentalists in Illinois have been pushing to eliminate the practice of fracking.

An Interview with Karen Weigert

Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for the city of Chicago, guides the city's sustainability strategy and implementation to bring about innovative and practical solutions.

Take Five Minutes to Help Save the Great Lakes

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is conducting a campaign to reach 5,000 signatures on an online petition to keep sewage out of HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior).

Chicago's First Self-Sustaining Vertical Farm Operation

Chicago entrepreneur and Executive Director of The Plant, John Edel, has an ambitious vision.

Conscious Consumption

Every time we hand over cash, swipe our credit card or write a check, we are investing in the companies and causes that we patronize.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Learn About Feathered Friends at Green Festival

Nonprofit A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife, Inc., will be participating in the Green Festival with a booth and presentation of birds at the Kids’ Zone.

VitaClay Cooker Offers Healthy Cooking

Essenergy has introduced a new eight-cup VitaClay Smart Organic Multi-Cooker, a slow cooker, rice cooker and steamer, plus a yogurt maker.

Improve Health and Clarity with Eden Energy Medicine

Bestselling authors Donna Eden, creator of Eden Energy Medicine, and her husband, David Feinstein, a pioneer in energy psychology, will present a fun and spiritually uplifting workshop.

Sandwich Me In Aims for Zero Waste

Sandwich Me In, in Lakeview East, has been certified by Green Seal Chicago as an officially “green” restaurant.

Bhakti Fest Returns to the Midwest

Celebrations continue this summer as the second annual Bhakti Fest Midwest returns to Madison, Wisconsin, from July 5 to 7, even bigger this time.

May 2013 Publisher Letter

We were delighted to see all of the fabulous Earth Month events that occurred throughout the Chicago region to promote ecology, conservation, recycling and overall awareness.