Staff Sustainability Champion: Peggy Stevens

"There has been a culture shift within the building where it is expected that everyone will recycle and compost..."

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The Staff Sustainability Champions program spotlight recognizes staff across Cornell University who exemplify the Institution's commitment to sustainability, and have shown leadership and initiative to catalyze change for a more sustainable campus and planet with their actions - big and small. Together, each of us are working to make Cornell a more environmentally friendly, socially just, and innovative campus. Staff at every level play a role Cornell's transformation to a sustainable campus. 

About the Champion

Peggy Stevens, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University CALs
Administrative Assistant

In 2013, Peggy's manager was inspired to take sustainable actions in the workplace after attending Cornell's Management Academy Sustainability Training and knew Peggy was the person to lead sustainability actions for their team. Peggy took on the challenge and has been a champion for sustainability ever since. It has become Peggy’s mission to make the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering (BEE) more sustainable in every way, through example and concrete projects.

She has engaged faculty, staff and students for input and proposed many ways to increase office sustainability practices. Her anonymous nominee describes Peggy’s sustainability contributions as follows “… I cannot think of a more proactive sustainability crusader on Cornell’s campus than Ms. Peggy Stevens. She’s worked hard to green her own life, e.g., trading in her gas guzzler for a hybrid and now she is proactively greening Riley Robb Hall. Her enviro-activism is omnipresent and fully engaged... Because of Peggy, we now have compost and plastic bag containers beside our trash and recyclable bins. She takes responsibility for emptying these extra containers and making sure the material is properly delivered to the appropriate handlers. Last year she helped arrange to have Cornell’s Take Back the Tap student group (TBTTs) supply water coolers for the Biological and Environmental Engineering commencement to avoid using bottled water to quench the thirst of the participants. Next time you are in Riley Robb Hall, notice the signs demonizing bottled water and encouraging you to use the drinking fountain next to the vending machines… that’s Peggy. For Earth Day 2013 she organized a seed-exchange and compost workshop; I’m looking forward to whatever she has planned for next year. Peggy’s recently been asked to take her green-energy beyond the walls of Riley Robb Hall as part of the committee responsible for “Greening” Cornell University events….”

Email energy-sustinability@cornell.edu or call 607-255-6375 to request "Flip the Switch" stickers.

Peggy has also organized office staff into a group to achieve a Green Office Certification; she was also a “Green Ambassador” to her upstairs neighbors the Cornell Local Roads Program and helped them become Green Office Certified. As part of the Green Office program her office now uses Cozy Toes foot heaters (Cozy Toes are available in eShop from Vasco. They pay for itself in ~2 months by reducing the amount of electricity used by space heaters by 95%). All of our space heaters are now gone, and we have “Flip the Switch” stickers on all our light switches.

The building is now filled with live green plants to help the air quality that Peggy and a co-worker care for and keep watered. BEE graduation celebration strives for zero-waste and finally, Peggy goes around the building shutting off lights and turning off air conditioners that are left on.

Peggy says “Basically, there has been a culture shift within the building where it is expected that everyone will recycle and compost. This spreads from the building into everyone’s daily lives – a real grassroots structure.”

Thank you Peggy for all you do!


Who else should be featured? Tell us about another champion: Nominate

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