By Lauren Meredith, BOR, Public Affairs

Kerry Whitford and Joe DiVittorio,
2 winners of the Green DOI Challenge

With observant and innovative suggestions, Kerry Whitford and Joseph DiVittorio were acknowledged by Secretary Ken Salazar as two of the top 10 winners of the Department of the Interior's Green DOI Challenge. Having noticed the time and water that was wasted as he waited for the heated water to reach the tap, DiVittorio suggested that water taps either be retrofitted with small electric subunit water heaters or by installing hot water recirculation systems.

Whitford's suggestion took note of the department-wide use of eco-friendly electronics, proposing that Interior do the same with LED and high-efficiency lighting through a department-wide contract. High efficiency lighting is expensive; lighting bought in bulk through Interior significantly reduces the costs.

"I feel quite privileged to be among the 10 chosen for the Green Award," said DiVittorio. "It's great the department goes out and asks its employees for their opinions."

The Challenge comes under the Executive Order signed in place by President Obama that sets sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focuses on improving environmental, economic and energy performance. Interior employees were able to make suggestions through the Challenge's end date of February 26.

There were seven main categories through which employees could submit their suggestions for a greener workplace. There were 1,700 submissions. "A lot of the good 'greening' ideas come from the bottom-up," said Whitford.

DiVittorio and Whitford are both employees within the Maintenance Services Office with the Policy and Administration Office.