Green Lab Build, Week 5

As I progress towards creating a GreenLabs program here at the University of Chicago, delegation becomes increasingly important. As a graduate student, I have many responsibilities other than starting the GreenLabs program. Improving laboratory sustainability on our campus could be a full time job! In fact, some Universities have entire positions and/or departments devoted to making laboratories more sustainable. So delegation is key. Luckily, there are about 15 scientists who are interested in helping with the project, many of whom have a lot of valuable experience. At meetings, this committee provides me with ideas, feedback, and resources, but if this program is going to be successful, action needs to be taken! 

As the pilot program approaches, projects need to be completed, including: putting together a comprehensive document with resources and information for the pilot labs, setting up Styrofoam and nitrile glove recycling, improving recycling in general, creating stickers and informational signage, and amending the large equipment purchasing form to include a sustainability clause. Each projects has a different level of commitment and can benefit from different talents, so there is a project for everyone who is interested in helping.

I have asked a small number of individuals to head each project, between one and three depending on its size. I will contribute to and oversee each of group’s goals and progress. Encouraging participation was a little difficult, but asking committee members directly if they would like to participate in specific project that fits their interests increased enthusiasm (and decreased the bystander effect!). At this point, I have most of the positions assigned and am beginning to make progress with the help of others. Holding members accountable for completing the tasks is one foreseeable challenge. Everyone involved is volunteering and has many other work responsibilities, so I think it is unwise to be too strict. However, people will need to follow up to make a big difference. I am hoping that speaking with members individually and staying positive about decreasing the carbon footprint of our University’s labs will maintain a sufficient productivity level and morale.

Lastly, each project has its own timeline. The pilot program invitation and application has already been sent out while other projects are ongoing efforts or have deadlines a month or two from now. Hopefully, through delegation and teamwork it will all come together in a harmonious and successful manner.