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INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABILITY, ENERGY, AND ENVIRONMENT
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

Phi Sigma Sigma Certifies Green

Phi Sigma Sigma Certifies Green
The photo depicts a light switch with a sticker that reads "Conserve Energy. Turn off the lights."

Members of Phi Sigma Sigma labeled light switches throughout their house to remind members to conserve energy.

Greek houses are ingrained in our university’s history, with the oldest dating back to the 1800s. And after more than 200 years, they’re going green.

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment designed the Certified Green Chapter Program (CGCP) to encourage Greek chapters to commit to sustainability. Simple, effective actions like turning off lights during the day and providing recyclable dishes and silverware can be adopted to reduce a house’s environmental footprint.

The CGCP was launched last semester with more that make it easy for chapters to certify, such as referring another chapter to join the program or coming up with an original green initiative.

Phi Sigma Sigma, located on Second Street, is now the first sorority house on campus to become certified green and the first chapter to reach bronze certification. Bronze certification is accomplished when a chapter commits to five or more sustainability actions.

“Living in a house with a ton of girls can have a bad impact on the environment from all of the constant plastic waste and wasted energy. We felt that with some little changes we really could make an impact,” said Kate McClintock, Sustainability Ambassador for Phi Sigma Sigma.

The road to going green wasn’t easy for Phi Sigma Sigma because so many people are involved in housing decisions.

The photo depicts a recycling bin painted with flowers and grass.

Members of Phi Sigma Sigma set up recycling bins in their house to increase recycling efforts.

“It was hard at first to get my ideas implemented. I would have to talk to the house manager of Phi Sig, who then has to talk to our house mom and house representatives. This process is time consuming. Money is also a concern — to get biodegradable cups, or new shower heads that conserve water, it costs money that the chapter and the club don’t have. With recent fundraising we’ve been doing what we can,” McClintocks said.

She recommends looking into the Green Greeks RSO or visiting the Certified Green Chapter Program website to begin the process of green certification.

Even if chapter members are learning and living remotely, there are ways to safely and effectively certify! In consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greener Campus team now conducts all communications with chapters via email, no longer requires chapter house visits, and recognizes certified chapters at virtual events.

— Story by iSEE Communications Intern Samantha Roberson; photos provided by Phi Sigma Sigma

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