WashU’s Office of Sustainability coordinates the Green Office Program, which provides a framework and set of resources that empower office teams across all campuses to reduce their environmental impact and costs. The program features a self-assessment checklist with seven categories that offices use to evaluate their current practices, set goals, and track their progress. As offices reach certain milestones, they become a certified Green Office at one of several levels: Registered, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
This semester, the Gephardt Institute formed a Green Office Committee to establish action items and complete the Green Office program checklist. The committee includes a mix of professional and student staff members. According to Tim Dugan, Community Engagement Manager and committee member, “The Green Office Committee aims to educate and empower the Gephardt Institute with tools to improve our environmental impact and live lives of environmental stewardship. I try to live everyday with respect and care for the planet, and the committee provides meaningful and measurable avenues to do so.”
After reviewing the checklist and determining priority point areas, each committee member compiled resources and tips related to one or more checklist categories: energy, waste, documents, purchasing, transportation, awareness, and innovations. Each week, a member emailed staff with a focus on particular categories and longer-term strategies, such as how to reduce energy usage over academic breaks.
“Helping our staff members develop life-long habits including proper waste sorting, using alternative transportation, and turning off lights and electronics when they are not in use will have an impact that is felt far beyond our office,” commented Faculty Engagement Coordinator Annalise Wagner ‘18. “This entails many small-scale changes that will make an impact in the office and in our staff’s personal lives.”
In addition to preparing weekly emails and posting relevant resources in common areas, the Green Office committee engaged the entire staff in a brief survey about individual green practices to gauge awareness and aggregate answers for the checklist. Marketing & Communications Manager and Green Office liaison Jennifer Thomas submitted the checklist in early December and recently received news that the institute has achieved Gold level certification. The institute received high marks in the waste, purchasing, and awareness categories, as well as innovation points for forming the Green Office Committee, composting coffee grounds and food scraps, and labeling common food items to decrease food waste.
The Gephardt Institute is proud to have contributed to the Office of Sustainability’s goal of 100 certified offices by the end of 2017 and looks forward to reaching Platinum level certification by the end of 2018. The institute will receive recognition and a personalized plaque at the Office of Sustainability’s Green Carpet Awards ceremony in February 2018.