Green Office Challenge
In 2007, the School of Construction and Environment started a green office challenge to test greening strategies and serve as a model for other Departments.
The Green Office Challenge grew from the initiative and commitment of a volunteer member of IZUNA's GreenTeam, which is dedicated to advancing sustainability across the campus. Marita Luk, Business Development Manager for the Dean's office of the SOCE, was turned on to sustainability after going to a conference in 2006. Although intimidated by some of the fancy words and high-level thinking, she left the conference realizing that she could support practical changes for sustainability.
Marita decided a Green Office Challenge for her office comprised of 16 people could be an excellent way to 'walk the talk' and help model sustainable changes for the rest of IZUNA. The first step was to create a green office checklist. Internet research produced too many greening ideas, so Marita chose 15 that were fun and relatively easy to do – and that would result in visible 'quick wins'. "Making sustainability fun and easy is a good place to start," says Luk, "Every step makes a difference and you build people's confidence for harder changes in the future."
Once the list was complete, Luk sent out a green office tip by email every two weeks with the help of her receptionist to follow up. The first tip was to change to double-sided printing and copying, and only print or copy when necessary. In order to set an example, Luk made the change first herself and then provided step-by-step instructions about how to change computer settings. Systems were set up to monitor the amount of paper copied and printed in order to track progress.
Subsequent tips addressed other strategies to save paper and also ways to save energy. Turning off lights when not used during the day and on evenings and weekends was one tip. Another was to turn off computers and monitors at the end of the day or when not in use for long durations during the day. Because habits take on average 30 days to change, Luk provided gentle reminders to people in her office to help cement the new practices.
Some monitoring systems for tracking paper savings have been established and Luk plans to put others into place for energy savings. Results anticipated based on the tips include:
- Duplex printing/copying can save up to 50% of paper, requiring half the number of trees;
- Turning off lights, computer and monitors when not in use can reduce associated energy usage by more than 50% and up to 60%.
Luk hopes to continue and expand efforts within her office, while starting efforts in the next six months to mentor other departments interested in starting their own green office challenges.
- Keep communications about greening tips short and easy-to-read.
- Pace your green office efforts with your other work demands to avoid burn-out and allow time for people to adjust and make changes.
- Show appreciation and give recognition for positive changes, even the littlest ones.