GBA Employees Take the Stairs in January

GBA News

Month-long challenge inspires Evanston staff to save energy, move more

The G/BA Evanston office’s Sustainability Tracking Committee (otherwise known as the “Green Team”) kicked off 2016 by inviting colleagues to add movement to the day via the company’s first-ever Stair Challenge.

In this one-month challenge, employees were encouraged to use stairs to access the third- and fourth-floor office space at 820 Davis Street, improving health while saving power. (Elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp estimates that elevator electricity usage in an office building averages about 0.3 kWh per person per day.) An interactive spreadsheet on the company network made it easy for participants to record their stair activity, both at the office and off-site. Fun comparisons were provided; for instance, climbers learned that Chicago’s Willis Tower has 1,452 steps, and climbing Mount Everest would require 29,028 steps.

Twenty-two of Evanston’s 77 employees elected to participate. Senior Project Engineer Jeff Cochran (wearing a hat in the photo below) won the in-office category, with 5,822 steps recorded. Associate Joe Ficek (seated in the photo) won both the out-of-office category (17,560 steps) and the overall challenge (20,640 steps, or enough to climb Peru’s 20,630-foot-tall Mount Ampato).

Pictured from bottom to top nearest the wall: participants David Eldridge (Associate), Heather Beaudoin (Project Manager), Eric Rosenberg (Project Manager), Cochran, and Sandy Grymkoski (Administrative Manager). Pictured from bottom to top nearest the rail are Joel Freeman (Project Manager), Ficek, and Tracy Leverenz (Project Billing Coordinator).

Other top finishers included Leverenz and Rosenberg (top-three finishers in the in-office category); Associate VP Jon Gehrt (a top-three finisher in the out-of-office category); and President Chad Luning (a top-three finisher in both categories, and second place overall).

In addition to tracking steps via spreadsheet, G/BA applied its typical “measurement and verification” focus to the event. Motion sensors (below) were installed by the stairwell doors to both the third and fourth floors, and door-opening counts for January were compared with those for December, when the challenge was not running.

Though holidays no doubt suppressed late-December numbers, the January totals did appear to reflect an uptick in stair use at G/BA’s Evanston offices (below).

Freeman says the challenge spurred some behavior changes for him. “I didn’t use the stairs for no reason, but I did look for reasons to use the stairs.”

Luning adds: “It was great to see a bunch of traffic in the stairwells and amazing to document all of the energy provided by G/BA staff members. It goes to show you how even small behavioral modifications can have a significant collective impact.”

Kudos to all who participated, and especially to Green Team chair Heather Beaudoin, who organized the competition and evaluated the results.

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