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Gearing Up to Double WUSM Green Office participation in 2019

The Green Office program is a university-wide initiative that has had great success over the past several years with over 100 certified office spaces across all campuses. The medical school had 15 certified offices in 2017 and is planning to double that number by the end of 2019. With the recent Green Office Luncheons (pictured above), the program is steadily gaining momentum.

The program is based on an annual self-assessment that is completed by each office’s Green Office Liaison. To become a green office liaison, all you need to be is interested in promoting sustainability in your office space! Some liaisons are self-appointed and others are selected by their department. The liaison will need to complete a checklist once a year about all of the operations within their office space and that will generate a score. Offices are then certified as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum based on their awarded points.

The following are just a few of the Green Offices successes here on the medical campus.

Green Office Spotlights

The largest Green Office on our campus is the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Mary Feld, the liaison for this office of 29, recently earned Silver certification after using the survey feature to gather information from her colleagues. Mary recently attended a Recycling Genius training and has scheduled a staff meeting and invited the Office of Sustainability to train everyone in her office. While succeeding with the standard Green Office checklist, the DBBS office earned several points through their innovations – sustainable practices unique to their office space. They have made big strides to green their office space and to pass on green practices to the incoming students in their program. This year, the department created an app for the students to access their orientation documents and to minimize the fliers and brochures that were passed out during tabling events. All students were given reusable water bottles, as well. They have also used the “Goals” section of the checklist to set targets for their office for the upcoming year, which may bump them up a certification level!

The Access Control Office first joined the Green Office program in 2015. Their office has grown from 4 members to 7, during which time they have advanced from Silver level certification in 2015 to Gold in 2016 and 2017. Of the 7 office members, 3 are dedicated daily alternative transportation commuters and they all utilize public transportation when traveling to meetings on and off the campus. They are committed to incorporating sustainability into their office culture by setting their computers to print double-sided with minimal margins, reducing lighting when natural light is available, keeping thermostats set within recommended ranges for energy conservation, and using re-usable water bottles and coffee mugs to reduce their waste generation. Additionally, none of the office spaces have individual trash cans. They focus on locally available recycling containers and one centrally located landfill waste container for all office members to use if needed.

The Facilities Operations Office received Bronze certification in 2017. They are an office of 9 and their Green Office Liaison is Beth Burka, Energy Engineer. This office excels in energy conservation and in their efforts related to transportation – over 25% of the office members carpool to work. Purchasing is another area in which they demonstrate exemplary performance. They do not purchase new furniture, but choose to reuse existing furniture that is available around campus for their office needs. They reuse office supplies, rather than always purchasing new items and they buy printer paper made with post-consumer product.

The Office of Internal Audit and University Compliance is 13 members and they reached Silver level certification in 2017. Linsey Griffin, their Green Office Liaison, has lead her office to get almost all of the points possible in the Energy and Waste sections. They turn off lights in unoccupied rooms or use natural lighting when available. Their computers and printers automatically shut down or go into “sleep mode” overnight. Office members use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs while in the office and their office appliances are Energy Star certified! Lastly, more than 25% of office members drive high fuel efficiency vehicles.

The EH&S Biological Chemical Safety Division is one of our highest-ranking offices. This office group of 11 members recently earned Gold certification for 2018. Their Green Office Liaison, Emily Audrain, also attended a Recycling Genius training in July, which earned their office an extra point in the waste category. They further reduce their waste footprint by using reusable plates, utensils, and beverage containers while in the office. They make environmentally friendly purchasing decisions when buying cleaning supplies, electronics, office supplies, and by never purchasing Styrofoam products. By using electronic filing and invoicing for internal documents and rarely offering non-electronic versions of outreach materials, their printing needs are minimal. This office has also made great strides in the alternative transportation section – 7 office members take public transit, walk, or bike to work, 1 person carpools, and 2 drive hybrids.