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Office of Development & Alumni Relations (DAR) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The Office of Development & Alumni Relations (DAR) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine received its Green Office certification in January 2022. DAR’s Green Team formed in November 2019 with 10 members excited to plan and facilitate environmental best practices for their 40+ colleagues on Northwestern’s Chicago campus. While the COVID-19 pandemic changed some of their original plans, the team is proud of the way they have maintained their passion for sustainability. Working together, the team was able to foster greener, healthier workspaces—on campus and at home, while also giving back to their broader Chicago community.


Upon their formation, the DAR Green Team divided up their efforts into categories: energy, water, waste, and recycling; purchasing; communications and engagement; and travel, events, and meetings. They encouraged colleagues to change their habits by providing actionable green tips in a weekly email. Recognizing the wellness benefits of a sustainable workplace that minimizes exposure to toxins and contributes to a healthier environment, the team applied for a Wellness Grant through Northwestern Human Resources. They were thrilled to receive funding to purchase reusable water pitchers, glassware, metal utensils, ceramic plates, and ceramic coffee mugs for DAR’s shared kitchen. The supplies would replace the single-use paper and plastic plates, cups, and utensils used for staff lunches and socials, as well as meetings with faculty, staff, and donors.

When the pandemic hit, the Green Team pivoted—put their wellness grant on hold, changed green tips to ideas that could be implemented at home, and thought about how to keep colleagues engaged in sustainability outside the office. In November 2020, the DAR Green Team put their fundraising skills to good use and led a virtual food drive to support the Greater Chicago Food Depository. To celebrate Earth Day following spring 2021, the team organized another fundraiser, this time to support Urban Grower’s Collective, a Black- and women-led non-profit farm in Chicago working to build a more just and equitable local food system.

Back in the office later in 2021, but anticipating fewer group gatherings, the DAR Green Team decided to use their Wellness Grant funding to purchase reusable “Fill it Forward” water bottles. They also surveyed the office at large to learn about the green changes colleagues had made at home and how those changes would translate back to the office (see results below).


Now officially Green Office certified, the DAR Green Team members will carry on their mission, and continue to engage their office with sustainability events, awareness, and volunteer opportunities.

“It is our collective and individual responsibility to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.” —Dalai Lama