University Expands Sustainability Promotion with Workplace Certificate Program

Dana Elger, Public Affairs
Release Date: 

The Office of Campus Sustainability has launched Sustainable Workplace, a certificate program that assist offices in creating greener workplaces across campus through simple adjustments in employee behaviors and equipment settings.

“This certification program is designed to increase campus awareness of sustainability efforts and make it easier to adopt sustainable behaviors by providing office-specific recommendations and assistance,” said Anya Dale, sustainability representative with OCS. “The goal is to build on existing technological and building improvements, and encourage behavior change to further reduce energy consumption and also reduce waste.”

The program focuses on behavioral changes to support waste prevention, energy reduction and increased awareness of sustainability, all of which support the university’s 2025 sustainability goals. The new program joins the existing Sustainable Labs program also offered by OCS, which focuses on sustainable practices in campus laboratories.

Following the same structure as the labs program, the office version includes an online self-assessment followed by a site visit and workplace evaluation conducted by an OCS representative. The assessment creates a baseline of current behaviors, assigning points for existing sustainable practices, and serves as a guide for developing an office-specific action plan with short and long-term recommendations for greener operations. Informational resources also are provided to help educate employees on sustainable office practices, and create awareness of the impact their actions have on energy use and emissions. Based on the points earned, offices will be given a rating between bronze and platinum, with the opportunity to increase their rating as goals are met.

Dale noted simple behavior changes can result in big impacts on energy savings and cost avoidance for the university.  Common recommended workplace improvements including: the elimination of extra, unnecessary equipment; setting computers to energy efficient settings; turning off of lights not in use; and the use of motion sensing electrical power strips for plugged in equipment.

Prior to the launch, the program was piloted in the Event Services office with University Unions.

“A benefit of the program is the process,” said Barbara Niemi, director of Event Services. “Outside eyes often can identify opportunities more easily so having someone do a walk through and point out opportunities for improvement at no cost to us was beneficial.”

After completing the program, Event Services received a Silver rating for its changes supportive of a more sustainable workplace, including the elimination of old or duplicate equipment and the expansion of existing recycling practices to include recycling of pens and digital media.

More information on the Sustainable Workplace program is available on the Office of Campus Sustainability web site at: