New “green team” will bring to light environmental initiatives at RIC

From the LEED-certified residence hall to the eco-friendly cleaning supplies that are used campus-wide, Rhode Island College has been giving the green light to environmentally healthy living alternatives for years. So it’s only natural for the school to create a campus green team to promote and keep track of current initiatives, and to oversee the development of new ones.

Jenifer Giroux
Jenifer Giroux, interim director of Outreach Programs at RIC, said the green team will also serve as a “clearinghouse for all the information about the initiatives that are happening on campus.”

After seeing how effective the green teams have been in other schools, Giroux was motivated to form a group at RIC. She and Dante Del Giudice, interim director of the Office of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, presented a webinar to assess how to go about it.

The webinar, which was hosted by Del Giudice's office, "provided convincing arguments for higher ed's role and opportunities in the development and support of wide-ranging green/sustainability programs and curricula," Del Giudice said.

Giroux said, “We got to see what other colleges were doing and how a green team could implement change, and then the brainstorming began to start one on campus.”

Giroux approached RIC President Carriuolo and Ron Pitt, vice president for academic affairs, about forming a green team. Both agreed that it was a good idea. Carriuolo noted that green initiatives are not only good for the environment but also a cost-effective measure.

On May 4, one of three planned informational sessions will be held for anyone interested in getting involved. [This event was rescheduled from April 1.] “Once we see the level of participation, then we’ll go from there,” Giroux said.

Green Team Flyer

Ron Pitt
The group will take into account any input from faculty, administrators, students and representatives from departments like Physical Plant, which Giroux described as an important driving force behind efforts like recycling and lighting on campus.

Pitt said that he intends to be active in addressing RIC’s green initiatives because “the administration has an important role in promoting and supporting the team’s efforts, endorsing its goals, and leveraging external and internal resources to make that vision possible.”

He also pointed out that the green team’s success will largely be determined by the level of participation and interest in the group on campus. The team’s work will dovetail with RIC’s new Vision 2015 plan, which he said maintains among its goals for the college “to embrace the principles of sustainability including recycling, energy efficiency, maintenance, protection, and enhancement of green spaces.”

Dante Del Giudice
Giroux wants the green team to have a notable impact in maintaining the RIC campus as a sustainable environment within the next year. “We hope that the green team will be able to advise, generate interest, and identify areas to be strengthened, to drive environmental practices on campus,” she said.

In her mid-year state of the college address on Feb. 24, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo identified several sustainability initiatives the college is pursuing in addition to the green team, including a K-12 green curriculum and a sustainable schools summit.

She also recognized the Green Business Certification program, which began in January, along with the successful cardboard recycling initiative that has dramatically reduced campus waste.

Giroux said the Green Business Certification program is being offered as a course to small business owners who want to enhance their business by reducing waste and becoming more environmentally friendly, as well as to those who are enrolled in the Office of Outreach’s adult education programs at RIC.

So far, the reaction from employers that she has worked with has been “fantastic,” Giroux said, adding that she hopes to continue integrating the RIC community into the program. The next certification class will begin on April 14 and run until June 30.

RIC's newest residence hall is the state's first to be LEED-certified. LEED
is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Meanwhile, both the K-12 green curriculum and sustainable schools summit, which are being conducted in partnership with the Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living, are still pending full approval but should have their details finalized soon, according to Giroux.

The K-12 curriculum will provide teachers working in the different school districts with vital skills training to teach their students about the importance of sustainability for the environment.

“It will ensure that teachers are well-prepared to teach students to become environmentally aware, mainly through professional development, to find ways to incorporate green living in the classroom,” Giroux said.

Plans call for the sustainable schools summit to be held for the second time in September. Giroux recalled that back in 2008, the summit took place at the Department of Education’s URI Shepard Building for a full day and provided several workshops along with speakers from established green teams from various schools.

This year, it will be held at the Providence Career and Technical High School, with many more workshops to be presented and people expected to attend. Karen Castagno, interim associate dean for teacher education at RIC’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, and Greg Kniseley, professor of elementary education, have also been working with the Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living to make the event possible.

Campus recycling is a part of RIC's "green" strategy.
Pitt said he looks forward to the upcoming sustainable schools summit as being an important step to integrate more sustainability education in Rhode Island K-12 classrooms, as other states have done. “Sustainability touches so many aspects of education, and teaching children and young adults about the problems and solutions for the future is absolutely critical,” he said.

For more information about joining the green team or to enroll in the next Green Business Certification class, contact Jenifer Giroux at (401) 456-9762, or