Faculty, staff, students selected for Pitt Sustainability Awards

Winners of the 2020 Pitt Sustainability Award were announced recently. Below are the winners and excerpts from the letters nominating them.

Faculty: Danielle Andrews-Brown, Geology & Environmental Science, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences.

Andrews-Brown has maintained the success of Environmental Studies. She chaired the MCSI subcommittee that created and established a set of “sustainability” attributes for use in the University’s curriculum management system, all in less than a year. On a broader scale, Andrews-Brown has engaged the community to talk about sustainability. She was one of the leading organizers of the Three Rivers Urban Soil Symposium last fall, a conference focusing on the sustainable use and management of urban soils organized in conjunction with the Phipps Conservatory and the Allegheny County Conservation District.

Faculty: Dr. Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Gamper-Rabindran has worked for a decade on strengthening the socioeconomic and international dimensions of sustainability in GSPIA and at Pitt. Her work has contributed to Pitt’s Plan for Sustainability, including Teaching and Learning, Research, Global Outreach and Partnership, and Community Engagement. The international development community faces the challenge: how can we best address the worsening social inequalities and impairment in the natural environment, while improving the quality of life of billions who live in poverty? Gamper-Rabindran’s research, teaching and outreach address these fundamental questions. She has organized three international conferences at Pitt and brought together national and international scholars and practitioners to discuss economic, energy and environmental problems.

Staff: Liza Allison, Industrial Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering

Allison started a composting program in the Industrial Engineering shared lunchroom prior to this being a program in Swanson. She took extra effort and transitioned many of our office supplies to sustainable products like TreeZero paper, eco-friendly cleaning products, and 100 percent recycled paper towels. And she created a portable Sustainable IE Event Kit for small to medium-sized events. She even distributed reusable drink bottles to all IE faculty and staff. Allison enrolled the department in the Grounds to Grow program for recycling and composting Keurig pods. She also began a Sustainable IE newsletter to make sure faculty/staff were properly educated on ways to eliminate waste in their daily lives.

Staff: Tiara Arnold, Housing, Housekeeping

As a housekeeper who covers Amos Hall, Arnold noticed that dozens of sandwiches, fruit cups and pastries were being thrown out by Starbucks. She approached the Starbucks manager and discussed the food waste with him. He was equally concerned but explained the trouble he's had finding someone to recover the food. After discussing the problem with her superiors, she began recovering the surplus food on Sunday nights from the Amos Hall Starbucks. Since she began the program in November 2019, Arnold has recovered more than 800 pounds of food that she delivers to Food Recovery Heroes coolers on campus for redistribution to hunger-fighting agencies in the region.

Student: Ellie Cadden, Environmental Studies, '20

Cadden began working for Student Office of Sustainability during the summer before her sophomore year. She worked her way up from a junior program associate to the co-director of the SOOS. She was part of the student team that created the Compost Coalition, organizing the drop-off compost station around campus and helping to build broad student support for increased diversion. She worked to help SOOS streamline the Green Certification processes. She co-authored and edited the Student Green Guide. She was integral in re-shaping SOOS, creating the SOOS council and leading us through a very tumultuous year and half.

Student: Sarah Hart, undergraduate, environmental studies

Hart was one of the core students who started the group Bee Friendly Pitt last spring, through which she helped to build and place solitary bee boxes in seven pollinator gardens around campus. Her work inspired the creation by Facilities Management of its Bee Campus USA Committee, of which she is a member. She has been a passionate leader on campus and in the community to raise awareness of Climate Change, working with the divestment movement on campus and the climate strike events at City Hall. She helped to organize and participate in the recent sit-in the Cathedral of Learning and she was one of the lead organizers for the Youth Climate Strike downtown last September, which gathered hundreds of people, and has continued to organize and participate in weekly “strikes” on the steps of City Hall ever since.

Group: Pitt Business Staff Leadership Collaboration led by Chris Driscoll (IT); Greg Guzewicz (Facilities); Karri Rogers (dean’s office)

Karri Rogers, assistant dean of Operations at Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, along with two people who report to her directly — Chris Driscoll, director of Information Technology Services, and Greg Guzewicz, facilities manager of Mervis Hall, have taken the lead on sustainability efforts for Pitt Business.

Driscoll made it compulsory for any event organizers indicate if their event was green certified. He also applied printing quotas to Pitt Business student and supported the installation of digital monitors in Mervis Hall to cut back on printing signage. Driscoll also had the Pitt Business server room relocated from Mervis to the University Network Operations Center, which resulted in major energy savings for power and HVAC in Mervis. Guzewicz led the push to materials made from 100 percent recycle fibers for the newly upholstered seating in Mervis’ classrooms and lobby. He also worked with Dining Services to bring more sustainable practices to the Bottom Line Bistro, the café on the ground floor of Mervis Hall. However, his largest contribution has undoubtedly been his support for composting in Mervis Hall. Rogers has played an important role in emphasizing that the highest levels of Pitt Business leadership are invested in making the community a more sustainable place.

Group: Zero Waste Period Initiative led by Pitt Planned Parenthood and Student Office of Sustainability

The nominated student-led initiative Zero-Waste Period is an initiative that has brought to campus 446 reusable menstrual products in the quantity of 400 menstrual cups and 46 reusable pads. It will further bring 250 more menstrual cups through a donation to the Pitt Pantry. Each of these products should divert an average of 3,000 tampon-equivalents of waste per person from landfill by allowing them to use the cup or pad over a period of about 10 years.