Green Office Certification Profile - Graduate Division Green Team
Green Office Certification Profile by Mary Ann Wilson
Christine Wang - Budget & Personnel & Analysis; Juliana Alvarez - Operations & External Relations; Estrella Arciba - Graduate Admissions/Student Academic Services; Anna Guzman - Outreach & Diversity Initiatives; Sonya Gavin - Operations & External Relations; Mike Flaxman - Office of Postdoctoral & Visiting Scholar Services; Mary Watkins - Information Technology Group; Fred Merrick - Fellowships & Financial Services
Graduate Division Green Team
How did you come to the decision to do the Green Office program?
When Sonya Gavin was hired as Office Manager at the Graduate Division in 2007, she immediately noticed that there were things the office could be doing to be more eco-friendly. This included purchasing biodegradable cups, plates, utensils, etc; acquiring ceramic mugs for use by staff and guests; and purchasing recycled paper and other office supplies made from recycled products. However, this was just the beginning. Once April deStefano joined the Graduate Division, she reached out to UCLA's Green Office Program and submitted a Green Office Interest form on our behalf. April's prior history included serving on the campus sustainability committee, working as part of the team that created the Staff and Faculty Sustainability Handbook and spearheading the greening efforts in her prior department. Thus, she brought with her added enthusiasm and advocacy to step up our initiatives.
How long did it take you to complete certification?
We initially completed our office calculators in October 2010. After updating them following consultation with Green Office Program representatives, we achieved Gold Certification in spring quarter 2011.
How did you motivate your department to make changes?
Each unit in the Graduate Division has a representative that serves on the Graduate Division Green Team. These representatives have volunteered to serve in this capacity and thus serve as advocates for the team’s efforts. They primarily achieve this through updates they provide to colleagues at their respective staff meetings.
How would you characterize the initial response to implementing these changes?
From the beginning staff members have been very receptive and supportive of the Green Team’s work so it has not been hard to make changes. Staff members have been positive and enthusiastic.
If you felt any resistance to making changes, were you able to overcome it?
There was no resistance to making these changes. The Graduate Division as a whole promotes green initiatives whenever possible.
Did you have any up-front costs to implement any of these changes?
Did you see any savings as a result of implementing these changes? (e.g., lower energy costs, lower paper costs, no plastic ware, etc.)
Though we have not documented it, we have probably realized cost savings in the area of paper consumption and color cartridges since we have set our main printers/copiers to default double-sided and black/white printer settings. When possible, we also purchase green products. Currently this includes paper, note pads, paper clips, pencils, pens, post-its, tissues, napkins, utensils and plates. We have realized some cost savings for many of these items.
What were some of the more interesting innovation points?
We switched from plastic coffee stirs to wooden stirs. We switched from Styrofoam cups to biodegradable paper cups and corn-based “plastic” cups. We purchased mugs for Grad Division use and continue to encourage staff to bring their own mugs/glasses/water bottles to cut back on use of disposable cups. We changed the default color output setting from color to black and white. We recycle CD, CD-ROM, and DVD disks. Rather than disposing of unneeded office furniture, the Graduate Division has partnered with LA Shares to donate items to local schools and non-profits.
What are the challenges, if any, in maintaining a green office?
Being able to maintain momentum and finding time to assemble the Green Team on a regular basis. However, we anticipate the team will meet again in the winter quarter and generate even more ideas so we can continue to become even more green.
Sometimes, we have found that work and life demands can interfere with using alternative modes of transportation.
Moving away from paper-based applications and documents continues to be a challenge.
While we continue to purchase fair trade coffee, we purchased fair trade tea on a trial basis. However, we have discontinued this due to low consumption of the tea compared to our current offerings. We continue to look for other alternatives.
We cannot shut off computers every night. However, we have instructed our staff to leave their computers on overnight only once a week so that critical updates can be installed on our machines.
Have you gained any insights from implementing this program that may be helpful to others?
It’s extremely important to identify representatives who have a good rapport with staff, are well-respected and who can effectively articulate and advocate for change and improvement.
Published: Monday, December 19, 2011