“Sustainability” is a moving target and a dynamic field. With the real-life urgency to aggressively and persistently take on climate change, curb greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste and generally shift the many unsustainable systems that have developed over the last couple hundred years, it is expected that our response and activities must be adaptive and responsive to new information and the current context.
In 2022, the Office of Sustainability audited and reviewed the existing checklist to update and align the highlighted practices with the priorities of the Office of Sustainability and the university more broadly. Partners consulted included Facilities, IT, The Academy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Human Resources’ Wellness Program, Disability Resources, Resource Management, Parking & Transportation, and the Trademark Licensing Office.
January 2023 – March 2023 will be an open pilot period where we ask participants to provide feedback on clarity, functionality, impact, etc. Campus partners who contributed to aspects of the checklist will also review relevant portions of the checklist and provide feedback. Participant and partner input will assist with fine-tuning the 3.0 checklist, with all planned updates in place by May 2023 for the next reporting cycle (calendar year 2023).
For more information on how to participate in the program and to download the checklist, click here.
What has changed?
- Adjustments for remote/hybrid work options (T1)
- Greater flexibility for when to commute to campus and how often can significantly impact the university’s Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions associated with employee commuting. While 2 points are awarded for policies that give employees the option to telecommute at least 25% of the time, there is no penalty for participants who select “N/A”. “N/A” should be selected for offices whose work required a full-time in-person presence (examples: clinical settings, customer service, custodial, facilities maintenance, etc.)
- Overall, questions have been adjusted to account for some employees being fully remote or hybrid if this status impacts point calculation. For example, the point calculation or the number of employees who have an annual parking permit that allows for daily parking excludes those who are fully remote.
- Alignment with University goals for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (O12, O13, O14, BO3, BO6)
- A workplace culture that incorporates principles of diversity, equity and inclusion aligns with WashU’s definition and application of social and environmental sustainability.
- The “Awareness” category was shifted to “Office Culture” with an overall intention for creating a health culture of mutual support, well-being, and inclusion. Numerous questions specifically establish best practices around deepening awareness and engagement with DEI and well-being priorities.
- In general, the checklist has shifted the more individual non-office specific actions to bonus questions, rather than have them in the main body of the checklist. We want to encourage individual actions like alternative commuting, shifting to electric vehicles, and utilizing reusable dishes when on-the-go, but realize that there are a wide variety of barriers that impact decision-making and the ability to practice these actions. We don’t want to limit engagement with the program or cap the certification level of offices when these barriers are out of their control. Instead, we focus the main portion of the checklist on policies, practices, and office infrastructure that is within the control of the office. In short, version 3.0 offers more focus on collective outcomes, and less on individual actions while still connecting individuals to university resources and information to make it easier to do recommended actions when they choose to do so.
- Alignment with University goals for employee health and well-being (T4, T8, T10, O3, O12, BO2, BO3, BO6)
- Social sustainability is within the scope of the university’s working definition and practice around “sustainability.” Active transportation and office culture that supports the physical and mental well-being of its workers are beneficial to the individuals within the workplace.
- Overall, the 3.0 version of the checklist has a greater emphasis on the best practices for creating a work environment and office culture that encourages and supports individuals.
- Setting up office systems to default to energy conservation and efficiency (E1, E2, E4, E5, E8, E9, E10, E11, E12, E13, E14).
- Reducing energy use decreased greenhouse gas emissions and saves the university money. Default settings make it a “no-brainer” to save energy once properly set up. Some examples in the checklist include improving default availability for “energy saving mode” through WashU IT management systems and programming sleep and power down settings on multi-function printers.
- All participating office must use the survey tool to collect responses for “red icon” questions.
- In the past, only offices over 25 were required to use the survey tool. For offices under 25, the survey tool was optional. However, we found the old criteria favored smaller offices and did not encourage full office engagement, which is an important goal of the program. Surveys play an important role in accurate reporting on the checklist.