Meet our 2023 Communications Intern: Sam Stevens

Sam wrapped up her Communications Internship with Illinois Green in June 2023. In her role, Sam researched and interviewed experts about new net zero projects and wrote case studies on up-and-coming net zero buildings. She also crafted blog posts, ranging in topics from how to manage a net zero building to overviewing the differences between various net zero certifications. 

Sam is currently a third-year student at Northwestern University, studying Journalism, Design, and Integrated Marketing Communications. Previously, Sam interned for green building & design (gb&d), where she discovered her passion for sustainable architecture. 

In her free time, Sam loves going to concerts and finding new coffee spots. Her home state of California gave her a great appreciation for nature and sustainability. She loves spending time outdoors, whether biking, swimming, hiking, or skiing.

See Sam's Case Studies:

Net Zero Building Case Study: Adlai E. Stevenson High School EBA I

Project Overview In 2021, the Adlai E. Stevenson High School East Building Addition became the…

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High Performance Building Case Study: Ford Calumet Environmental Center

Project Overview In 2021, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center opened in Chicago’s Southeast side. The…

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Net Zero Building Case Study: Carroll Community Center

Project Overview Carroll Community Center is one of the first net zero verified buildings in…

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Q&A with Sam
Why did you want to intern with Illinois Green?

Illinois Green Alliance combines two of my passions: sustainability and design. I think excellent design is inherently sustainable by being built to last and minimize harm against the planet, and the mission of Illinois Green reflects these values. 

What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned so far?

It was really cool to tour the Techny Prairie Activity Center in Northbrook because I got to see first-hand how net zero buildings can positively impact its inhabitants. Northbrook Park District Trades Manager Jake Vest showed us around the PHIUS-certified building. Personal highlights included the Kids’ Corner childcare, the large airtight windows, and the lobby’s dashboard displaying real-time energy usage data. Plus, we even got to climb up onto the rooftop to check out the building’s 833 on the solar panels!

What story are you most excited to share?

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recently completed the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF), a building targeting LEED Platinum and LEED Zero Energy certifications. I found the project team’s use of on-campus geothermal energy to be an innovative approach to lower energy consumption. The idea to construct 40 underground geothermal wells, which heat and cool the building, was partly spearheaded by the Student Sustainability Committee. As a current student, this case-use of geothermal energy is inspiring because it shows how creativity and collaboration can lead to impactful outcomes. 

Where does your passion for sustainability/buildings come from?

As a native of California, I grew up with the ocean and the mountains within a 30-minute drive from me. I have always had an intrinsic appreciation for nature, but it wasn’t until high school that I became keenly aware of the climate crisis, when I got involved in a campus sustainability club. Over time, I’ve realized that not only do we have to protect nature, but we also have to ensure that our built environment is conducive to overall well being. As I’ve progressed through college, my appreciation for sustainable architecture has grown, and I’m eager to learn more here at Illinois Green. 

Where does your passion for storytelling come from?

As a squirrely kid, I used to force my family members to be guests on my “talk show,” where I would ask them a variety of questions, both silly and (surprisingly) hard-hitting for an eight-year-old. When asked what my dream job would be, instead of saying an astronaut or firefighter, I said I wanted to be a talk show host. As a freshman in high school, I signed up for the class “Introduction to Journalism” on a whim, and now here I am, a Journalism major!