Congress’ First ‘Green’ Intern Tells Bosses What to Do

Posted October 2, 2009 at 5:48pm

It’s not often that staffers, let alone Members of Congress, take orders from interns.

But when it comes to Mark Galvan, things are a little different. Galvan was hired in September by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer to act as the first “green— intern in the House of Representatives, meaning he is tasked with teaching Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and her staff how to shrink her office’s carbon footprint.

“I work as a person who works with the Green the Capitol office and goes over all the things they can do,— Galvan says. This includes turning off the lights, printing on both sides of paper and making sure all computers are on low energy settings. At morning staff meetings, Galvan takes a few moments to discuss things the office can do to help better the environment.

“Mark has hit the ground running and is eager to meet the goals of his internship in my office, with Green the Capitol and [with] the Architect of the Capitol,— Davis says. “Hopefully he can apply what he learns here when he returns to San Diego.—

The internship is broken into three parts. Galvan spends Mondays and Wednesdays in the Green the Capitol office working under Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard. He works as an intern in Davis’ office on Tuesdays and Fridays. He spends Thursdays in the Architect of the Capitol’s office.

“Gathering the brightest young minds in the field of sustainability for our program brings a new, valuable perspective to our greening efforts. We’re delighted to have Mark, who is extremely talented, on board and excited to see what he might come up with,— Beard says.

Galvan, a senior at the University of California at San Diego, is particularly interested in understanding how greening ideas are put into practice throughout the House of Representatives. The main challenge facing the House, according to Galvan, is how to implement these same strategies in district offices because the office space varies from Member to Member. For instance, some districts have limited access to recycling.

“It’s easier to make a template for the House and implement it,— he says.

While Galvan is currently the only green intern, the CAO hopes to hire more as time goes on.

“I’m the guinea pig,— Galvan says. “I’m hoping I do a good enough job that [the green internship program] continues.—