On November 29, 2012, in order to promote environmental sustainability initiatives, the Green Cycle Group (GCG) conducted an Energy Sustainability Panel which included 2 sessions from 3-4:30 and 5-7PM. According to GCG’s advisor, Dr. Abhijit Banerjee of Geography and Environmental Studies Department of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), this event aimed to do two important things: “publicize green initiatives” that were recently put in place and “learn from leading universalities in the Chicago area” who have made advancements in “bigger green initiatives.”
The first session commenced with Steven Kowalski of NORESCO, the energy service company utilized by NEIU, to highlight the retrofits that have been put in place all around campus and the energy being saved as a result. David Jonaitis of facilities used a model of the planned El Centro building to explain the aspects of this energy sustainable green campus which will begin its construction as early as next spring. Jonaitis referred to this new building as “one like no other that NEIU has seen.” According to the speakers, being energy efficient will not only promote a greener campus but also bring tuition costs down.
In the second session, three guest speakers from Loyola, Northwestern (NU) and University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC)spoke about their unique methods of being energy sustainable. Zachary Waickman of Loyola University spoke about their biodiesel project from waste oil. Dr. Cynthia Klein-Banai from UIC showed the audience several renovated buildings that are currently being completely powered by geothermal energy. Rob Whittier of ( NU) promoted the importance and efficiency of wind energy and the benefits of purchasing renewable energy credits to lower NU’s carbon footprint. According to Banerjee, “through events like these we can hope to increase awareness about environmental issues and build knowledge and momentum for more initiatives in the future.”