Sustainability Launches Revised Green Office Program

By Jessica Hall, Sustainability Office

Many offices across campus have been involved in the Sustainability Office’s Green Office program, which helps campus employees learn how to be more sustainable in an office space and contribute to the university’s goals. Recently, Sustainability released a new version of the Green Office program with the hopes making the program more accessible to all offices.

The new Green Office certification process asks offices and departments to complete just eight actions to be certified. Actions include scheduling inclusivity trainings, reducing energy, reducing purchasing or switching to eco-friendly items, among others. The previous version of the Green Office program had many more items, says Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, engagement and communications manager for Sustainability.

“There are so many actions that staff can take to be more sustainable,” Clark-Proffitt says. “However, we really wanted to narrow the items on the checklist to better highlight the three pillars of sustainability—environmental, social, and economic equity—and make the program an easy, entry-level way to get involved. This is the base level of engagement with staff across campus.”

The new Green Office is completed through an online form, and the Sustainability Office created a worksheet to help offices understand the purpose of each item on the list. The new version of the program also incorporates ways for offices that are predominantly remote to participate, too.

supply cabinet at College of Nursing

The College of Nursing recently completed the Green Office program, and one point they completed was to keep office supplies in a central location. This reduces total purchasing, as well as shipping.

Sustainability quietly launched the new version late in the fall semester, and the College of Nursing accepted the challenge to pilot the new version. Jennifer Macali, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, facilitated the certification process for her department. Macali, who works with the health and wellbeing of people every day, says sustainability is very important in the health because “our health is reliant on the environment.”

“If we ignore the holistic aspects of sustainability, we aren’t doing our job as health scientists,” she says.

The new Green Office process is very straightforward, Macali says. She views the new version of the program as an easy way to embed sustainability into office systems, and she believes it should be expected for all offices to engage in Green Office.

Part of the Green Office program checklist allows for an innovation point, and Macali told us about the College of Nursing’s innovative way to be sustainable. Macali says the innovation point was easy for their office because they already had lots of ideas and contributions from employees all across the department. The college has a battery replacement system and an employee training that goes with it to educate staff on how to properly dispose of batteries in coordination with campus to pick up the used batteries. The College of Nursing is also partnering with the the Eccles Health Sciences Library and Sustainability’s Edible Campus Gardens on new ideas. Macali sees these collaborations as a way to form a more connected community.

Creating community is an important part of Green Office, says Clark-Proffitt, and we invite every office across the U to participate. Offices come in many shapes and sizes, and each has different strengths, but sustainability can be part of all spaces. Visit Sustainability’s Green Office page to learn how to get certified.

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.