LSA senior Kevin Kononenko never joined a fraternity, but he’s set out to make University Greek Life a whole lot greener.

Thanks to the Greek Life Sustainability Team (GLIST) Kononenko founded two years ago, the Delta Gamma sorority house will be the first at the University to undergo a sustainability retrofit this fall. And Kononenko said Delta Gamma’s project is only the beginning.

Because fraternity and sorority members pay energy costs such as electricity and heat, Kononenko said the property companies who manage the houses have little incentive to implement sustainable upgrades, such as added insulation or energy efficient appliances. To encourage updates, GLIST will create a financial plan for members to repay landlords for the upgrades, with energy savings ultimately saving members in the long run.

GLIST will also work with local contractors on energy audits to suggest specific changes and build a retrofitting plan tailored to each house, complete with estimated energy and cost savings. GLIST and Greek life members will learn the science behind the projects as well as changes they can make to improve sustainability.

Engineering junior Sarah Levine, a GLIST and Delta Gamma member, said the team started by reaching out to potential pilot sororities.

Levine lived in the Delta Gamma house last year and approached her landlords first. After presenting GLIST’s ideas, the landlords were excited to hear more and were soon on board.

“Retrofits are a great place to start for a house becoming more ‘green,’ ” Levine said. She noted changes could be small and inexpensive yet still decrease energy bills. She added fraternities and sororities are perfect sustainability partners since they house a large number of students, providing student environmental advocates the opportunity to encourage change in a large, visible part of campus.

Levine and Kononenko said they hope to expand sustainable retrofits to the rest of the Greek community as part of ongoing efforts to educate and encourage campus to adopting a greener culture.

A BS candidate in Program in the Environment, Kononenko has grown to intimately understand the direct relationship between human choice and environmental health.

“There’s real value in considering (how) the way you live your life affects your surroundings,” Kononenko said. “You’re inherently connected to the environment whether you like it or not.”

With so many friends in the highly visible institution of Greek Life, Kononenko saw fraternities and sororities as the perfect target for implementing sustainability initiatives. When he approached University officials, they suggested financial incentive as a method for connecting students with their environmental choices.

Kononenko agreed with University Greek life’s prediction — that no one would feel compelled to take action unless they could trace their decisions with tangible benefits or visible results.

So in October of 2011, Kononenko, in collaboration with plastic manufacturer Dart Container, launched Trust for Cups. The program, administered by GLIST, encouraged fraternities to adopt sustainable practices in exchange for a discount on disposable plastic cups, an essential item for Greek events across campus.

In order to benefit from the cup discount, participating fraternities were required to attain a 35 percent recycling rate and elect a sustainability chair to their executive boards.

By the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, 12 fraternities had participated, with 10 starting successful programs.

This year, Kononenko said GLIST will transition Trust for Cups into a Greek Life-wide recycling competition where fraternities and sororities will record their recycling rates as part of a challenge against other houses.

“We’re trying to utilize the competitive energy of Greek life,” he said.

Kononenko said GLIST revolves around sparking dialogue and building an eco-conscious culture in Greek Life — one that he said begins with a simple action like recycling and escalates to the renovations soon to make a brown and white sorority house on Oxford a little greener.

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