The Daily Illini

Chair of Green Team to give seminar on sustainability

Carter O’Brien, chair of the Green Team at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural Sciences, will be presenting a seminar to students and faculty on institutionalizing sustainability.

“My goal is to give students at the University of Illinois sort of an exposure to a lot of the things (they) might be learning about in school,” O’Brien said.  

This event will be held Thursday, April 26 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at noon until 1 p.m.

If one cannot attend the live seminar, ISTC will be providing the option of viewing it online with registration.

O’Brien graduated from the University in 1994 and has been working at the Field Museum in varying capacities since 1997, according to the event’s website.

“The University of Illinois was the first place I really started to get a better understanding of ecosystems and the importance of agriculture and the larger environment that Chicago is nested in,” O’Brien said.

In addition to his duties as Green Team chair, he was appointed to the position of sustainability officer in 2012 to recognize his various contributions. In 2008, he received Chicago’s first Changemaker of the Year award, recognizing his efforts to have the museum bakery only serve Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee.

“I came to work (at the Field Museum) not necessarily thinking I would stay here for a super long time,” O’Brien said.

Over the years, the museum started to put an emphasis on sustainability, he said. Making sure the building was as green and sustainable as possible was its goal.

“With time, the importance and value of being able to explain how you practice what you preach to the outside world became valued,” O’Brien said.

As of now, he also serves as the vice president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition, a tree keeper, as well as an avid cyclist, musician and martial artist.

O’Brien said he often finds that people think it is technology, such as solar panels and wind turbines, that pulls them into sustainability. He said it is the operations behind those technologies, though, where advances can and need to be made.

“It’s people and their attitudes and getting folks on board that are really critical in sustainability,” he said.

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