A message from the Office of Sustainability

December 16, 2021

In reflecting on the expansive Yale career of John H. Bollier, colleagues from across the department have shared their sentiments. In this interview, Virginia “Ginger” Chapman, director of the Office of Sustainability, describes John’s imprint on her and the greater University, among other things.

What is the first project you worked on with John? What year was it?

In the mid to late 1990s, before our first big project, John and I worked as fellow project managers at the School of Medicine. We shared a small office in a former apartment building that was slated to be demolished. The backs of our chairs collided when we were both there so we had schedule who would use it on what days.

The Anlyan Center was our first very large project, though we did many projects in the years before that. By that time, John was the director of planning, and I was the director of project management. Not long after that project started, John became director of the School of Medicine Facilities development and operations, and that’s when I began reporting to him. We completed dozens of laboratory renovations at the Medical School during that decade. Many of the labs hadn’t been renovated since the 1970s.

How has John impacted your career at Yale?

Over the years, John recognized my interest in sustainability. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we were working on a series of full floor laboratory renovations that were not sustainable at all—it was the standard way of doing things—including discarding many things that could have been reused and providing air change rates that were overly energy intensive. Sustainable practices were not part of how Yale worked at the time. In 2001, in response to students’ demands, Yale’s leadership created the Advisory Committee for Environmental Management (ACEM), including students, staff, and faculty. John recommended I serve on ACEM as the representative from the Medical School. As a result of that committee’s recommendations, a $1.0 million green fund was set up; and using some of those funds, we  experimented with implementing the first green lab projects at the Medical School. In addition, a  set of recommendations were made including to hire Yale’s first director of sustainability.

In 2010, when the first “Sustainability Strategic Plan” was published, John had already moved to central campus Facilities and he asked me to come to central campus as director of sustainable initiatives, a position he created, so I could work with different units to help facilitate meeting the goals in the plan (e.g. goals around water use, stormwater, waste, design, and construction). He wanted to ensure that our work at Facilities aligned with the University’s sustainability goals. In 2013, I took over as director of the Office of Sustainability. So yes, John has had a big impact on my career.

What will you miss about John the most?

I will miss his sense of humor, willingness to engage on tough topics, and the important role he has played as a champion for a sustainable Yale. Working with him for all these years has been a rewarding experience.

Learn more about John’s imprint through a message from Operations and Engineering.