Adopting Sustainable Practices in the Workplace

The choices we make in our work environment impact the natural environment. Departments and offices represent a large portion of energy and material use, and waste generation on campus. By making smarter choices, we can integrate sustainability principles into day-to-day activities on campus. Our Green Office program provides tools, support, and guidance to colleges and departments to help make your campus life more sustainable.

Start your certification process today by completing the “Office” section of the checklist. It’s easy and can be done in less than 1 hour.
 
First steps:

  • Identify your “Green Office Educator.” If you are filling out the checklist, that would be you.
  • Post your checklist in a visible place in your breakroom or your office community space to remind people that your office is committed to environmental sustainability and actively supporting larger campus initiatives.
  • Next, send an email to your department members letting them know that the department or college is working towards certification. Encourage them to learn more about campus sustainability initiatives and support the effort by doing any of the following:
    • Volunteering to help your team get certified!
    • Signing up for the Sustainability Office newsletter
    • Following the Sustainability Office blog
    • Following Sustainable U of U on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)

Make sure Green Office practices are part of the new hire orientation process. Explain what the program entails and let them know how they can help support the effort. It can be as simple as sharing the above information during your office tour, describing your team’s ecofriendly purchasing practices, sharing resources related to sustainable transportation options and acquainting them with the recycling program.
 
More resources and information can be found here.

Sweating the Small Stuff

By Karren Fultz, administrative officer, Sustainability Office. Originally posted on May 29, 2018.

With over 27,000 employees at the university, small changes to our daily office habits can add up to a large collective impact. These can be seen in continual cost-savings and environmental benefits. The Sustainability Office offers ongoing support and customized training to help implement new practices. So, reimagine your office routine through Green Office Certification.

Green Office Certification is a tool that guides staff and faculty as they adopt sustainable choices in the workplace. Using the Green Office Checklist, departments and colleges provide opportunities for everyone to participate in sustainability activities related to purchasing, energy use, transportation and more. After completing the checklist, schedule an appointment with a green-office specialist to verify the level of certification.

“Green Office Certification has helped our office be more aware of our collective carbon footprint,” said Jennifer Browning, office assistant, College of Architecture + Planning. “Maintaining our gold standard has become a group effort with everyone involved. Because of this program, we are always trying to think of new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle here in our office. We are so grateful to the Sustainability Office for introducing us to this campus program.”

Participating departments are recognized in three tiers of achievement: bronze, silver and gold.

Five departments have achieved gold, three have silver and three have bronze. Additionally, 22 departments are working on their certification.

  • Gold: Bennion Center, College of Architecture + Planning Dean’s Office, Office of Sponsored Projects, Second Language Teaching & Research Center, Sustainability Office
  • Silver: City & Metropolitan Planning, Facilities Management Utility Systems & Services, Utah Museum of Fine Arts
  • Bronze: College of Humanities Dean’s Office, Eccles Health Sciences Library, Parks, Recreation & Tourism

The first office at the U to participate in Green Office Certification was the Bennion Center.

“Green Office Certification is about planning ahead and knowing what you really do or do not need,” said Debbie Hair, administrative assistant with the Bennion Center. “It is about remembering to use on/off switches, printing on both sides of paper, and other simple actions that give back to Earth.”

After earning bronze, the Bennion Center didn’t stop there, advancing to gold certification in February 2015. With this achievement, they joined the dean’s office in the College of Architecture + Planning, which was the first campus office to earn gold.

The Sustainability Office also uses Green Office Certification to collect data for the Association for Advancement in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Through this self-reporting system, universities and colleges measure their overall sustainability performance. The U is currently designated STARS Silver and working to achieve STARS Gold by 2020.

Ready to take action? Join the faculty and staff of 33 departments and colleges by registering your department today. Contact Karren Fultz, karren.fultz@utah.edu for more information.