Groton Zebra Goes Green

The zebra in the Schoolhouse lobby has lost most of its green stripes, but not for long. Under a new environmental initiative by Erik Nadeau ’14, as the campus becomes greener, so will his ever-changing zebra.
Erik launched the Groton Goes Green Zebra Campaign and its accompanying website ( to raise awareness about climate change and to encourage the Groton community to save energy.
He got involved in environmental activism before attending Groton, when he founded the Student Sustainable Energy Team (SSET), which has become a nonprofit with Erik as student president. As a consortium of students from four area high schools and one college, the SSET has staged a sustainable energy fair, advocated for renewable energy use at a public building, and proposed additional sustainability projects.
Recognizing the energy-saving efforts of Groton’s Buildings and Grounds department, but wanting to inspire even more efficiency and, most important, to promote environmental awareness among students, Erik took on the Groton Green Zebra Campaign during a summer course, and continued it during a fall Faculty Sponsored Activity (FSA).

Over the summer, Erik studied at Harvard, taking “Global Climate Change: The Science, Social Impact, and Diplomacy of a World Environmental Crisis” and “Catalyzing Change: Sustainability Leadership for the 21st Century.” For the latter, his final project was to create a plan to improve sustainability at an organization, and he chose Groton School.

Erik had help from a family friend, artist Fred Czaja, on the zebra, which he devised as a way to measure the campaign’s success. The stripes, made of artificial turf, are magnetized. Erik built the campaign’s website throughout the fall term and is continuing work on it this winter in a tutorial with three other students—“Sustainable Energy and Real-World Construction Applications”—which is co-taught by two science teachers.
The Groton Goes Green Campaign began by raising awareness with turn-off-the-light cards next to switches, Roll Call announcements, and the giant green zebra. The first concrete challenge—aimed at the entire community—will be to increase recycling efficiency and participation. Erik hopes the community will earn most if not all of the zebra’s 16 missing stripes by the end of the school year by reaching efficiency goals. With help from Buildings and Grounds and the Dining Hall, he plans to tackle electricity, food waste, heating costs, and water usage, in that order, sometimes motivating with student competitions that will award prizes to the dorms that cut energy usage the most.
“People think their individual work won’t have much of an impact,” Erik says. “But I’ve learned that every sustainable act makes a difference, and that they all add up. Whether we focus on the behavior of one person or 400, it all makes a difference to address global climate change.”