Green Office News

How to Host a Green Office Holiday Party

November 20, 2017: Here is how you can make your holiday party this season greener while saving some money.

Food

  • Good Tidings offers sustainable food options that include reducing waste, composing and selecting local and vegetarian items.
  • A potluck is a great way to save money, celebrate the season and taste food from a variety of cultures.
  • To order food that is sustainably sourced and packaged, look for the green turtle next to their menu items. Make sure you know about the dietary restrictions of you guests.
  • Ask guests to bring reusable containers to take home leftover food. Alternatively, it can be donated to Food Recovery Network, a UMD student volunteer group.
  • Buy condiments and beverages in bulk/big containers to reduce waste.
  • Encourage guests to bring reusable water bottles.

Event Promotion

  • Send electronic invitations through email or online invitations such as Paperless Post
  • Spread the world about your event through social media and face-to-face communication.
  • Print posters or invitations on the back of previously used paper.
  • If using electronic invitations, use the RSVP function so you can plan based on the anticipated turnout. This can lead to less waste.

Decoration

  • Decorate using living plants such as leaves, pine cones and seasonal greenery. They make a seasonal centerpiece.
  • Decorate with something that your guests can win or take home after your party such as candle holders, fruit bowls, or small baskets.
  • Avoid disposable table cloths or use reusable table cloths. Buy a few each year to minimize your expenses.
  • Avoid helium balloons. Balloons are the biggest threat to wildlife and helium is a non-renewable resource.

Waste Management

  • Make sure recycling and composting bins are available and that signage is posted to inform guests how to properly dispose of waste.
  • To make the process simpler for guests, encourage volunteers to assist with waste sorting. Make sure these volunteers are trained.
  • Inform your guest in advance how to compost and recycle.

“Recycled Jar” Craft for your Guests

Supplies Need:

1.       Clear, recycled jars from sauce, pickles, condiments with the labels removed. Ask each guest to bring their own and you can provide additional supplies.

2.       Epsom Salt

3.       Glitter

4.       Glue/Glue Gun

5.       Glue Sealer

6.       Glycerin

7.       Brushes

8.       Paint in Holiday Colors

9.       Tape

10.   Markers

11.   Optional: Twine, small decorations, ribbon.

Instructions:

  • Holiday-themed jar:  Paint your jar white. The jar has now become your canvas and the limit is your imagination. Decorate the jar how you see fit. You can use tape to create strips or geometric shapes. Use markers to doodle beautiful patterns on them or draw snowflakes and snowmen.
  • Snowy jar: Cover the jar with glue. Once covered in glue, submerge the jar in a bowl of Epsom salt. Give it a little twirl to make sure it is completely covered. The Epsom salt will give the jar a snow effect. Take the twine and tie it around the rim of the jar. Let set for at least 15 minutes then enjoy your snowy jar. For an extra festive touch, attach or glue little decorations to the outside of the jar.
  • Snow Globe: Fill jar with water and glycerin. Sprinkle some glitter in. On the inside of the lid, glue little plastic figurines such as deer, trees or miniature presents. Close the jar or glue it for security and shake the jar until everything is mixed in well. Voila, you made snow globe!

Denise N'Dovie, Green Office Assistance - Office of Sustainability
 


GO-ing Green with DOTS

November 14, 2017: In the summer of 2015, our department issued a challenge to get every office at least Silver-certified; which we at DOTS-Transit knew would be a difficult task. Getting people to start making behavioral changes in the workplace was going to take outreach and coordinated efforts. It was critical to let staff know that supporting the Green Office program and Climate Action Plan was a high priority. The first place we started was with new employee orientation. My position in the DOTs office is responsible for giving drivers their policy overview. I began including information in the presentation that addressed the Climate Action Plan, the Green Office Program, and our office’s efforts to support these endeavors by reviewing alternative transportation incentives and discussing the Shuttle garden as well as our Silver-certified LEED building. This change insured that all new drivers were educated from Day 1 at DOTS-Transit.

Our next step was highlighting Green Office initiatives and environmental news within the campus community and around the world in our bi-weekly newsletter. Any article that is related to environmentalism has the Green Office logo affixed to the title. Even the newsletter itself underwent a formatting change from being a weekly publication with 50 copies being printed for staff to peruse and take with them, to becoming an e-newsletter that is e-mailed every pay day Friday. We figured we would really stick with the “green is good” theme!

Our commitment to the Green Office program also made staff more comfortable with bringing problem areas to our attention. One thing that was really concerning a few drivers was excessive idling of state vehicles. In a transit organization, some idling is necessary to keep passengers happy, but we had to figure out a way to cut down where we could. We realized that the policy that had been established was poorly worded and somewhat ambiguous as to when idling was and was not acceptable. A concerted effort led to the policy being revised to be more clear and definitive on the subject, and the staff who initially sought to fix the problem were happy with the outcome.

DOTS-Transit expects that our Green Office program will continue to evolve as technologies related to our industry change. We want to continue spotlighting the benefits of living a greener life and ensuring that all of our staff know it is a department-wide value.

Xander Houck, CDL Instuctor - DOTS - Transit Services


The Green Office Program's New Sustainability Associate

July 19, 2017: From a very young age, I have been passionate about the environment. Growing up on the beach in New Jersey, I found myself in a school system that stressed the importance of sustainability. By the time I turned fourteen, I was talking on local radio stations about the dangers of idling vehicles and the impact it can have on air quality.  Starting out as the Green Office Education and Outreach Intern for the Office of Sustainability my senior year of college, my passion for sustainability only grew. I gained valuable perspective for the importance of our individual actions, especially seeing how much of an impact the Small Footprint Pledge made. So, it is no surprise that I find myself a University of Maryland graduate with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy, employed by the Office of Sustainability as their Sustainability Associate. 

I genuinely enjoy teaching people not just the “how” but the “why” of sustainability. Through this position, I have been given the opportunity to do just that and more.  By showing people the importance of sustainability, I have the power to illustrate how each of our individual actions has an impact on everyone around us. Just the smallest, simplest actions can lead to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life. Whether it be recycling, vegetarianism, or utilizing renewable energy, there exists an endless spectrum of sustainable habits that will positively affect the world around us.

My experience as the Green Office Intern afforded me a behind the scenes look at all this office does for the UMD campus, and I am so excited to continue to be a part of that. I especially look forward to the opportunity to work with students, faculty, and staff, as we promote sustainability and improve the campus’s environmental footprint through outreach and education with the LEAF team and Green Office Program.

Samantha Bennett, Sustainabiltiy Associate - Office of Sustainability


North Campus Community Office's Green Journey - Part 3

June 5, 2017: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” This is a song sung by people all over the world, and nothing has been truer than with the turnover experienced by our office in the last year. We have lost some friends to other offices on campus taking with them their understanding sustainable practices, but we have made new ones whom we have indoctrinated into our Green Office ways.

In our previous stories about our Green Office Journey, we noted the disconnect between the individuals that make up our office and our physical environment. We all operated very independently, yet needed to get on one accord for our green office adventure to prove successful. After the achievement of silver certification, we all rallied around green office practices. Our conversations grew about sustainable practice from professional practices to personal changes and challenges.

Our new Associate Director welcomes the efforts as she transitioned from a non-green office to silver certified. She has encouraged our new employee welcome items of a live plant, smart strip, and reusable coffee mug as we on boarded our Case Manager, and look to welcome three additional staff this summer.

Thus, although we have not been able to grow in our desire to reach Gold certification, the introduction of new staff has caused us to remember where we started, and how most silver certification practices are now the fabric of this office. 

Candace Daniels, Coordinator - North Campus Administrative Operations, Department of Resident Life


"Before the Flood" Film Screening and Open Panel

June 5, 2017: The School of Public Policy Undergraduate Office was approached by Beyond the Classroom with an opportunity to engage with the wider campus community on the subject of sustainability outside of the classroom setting. We promote sustainability within our office and to our students, but this event allowed us to reach out to the rest of the university. “From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award®-winning actor, environmental activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio, Before the Flood presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change, as well as the actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.” This timely documentary follows DiCaprio as he travels to five continents and the Arctic speaking to scientists, world leaders, activists and local residents to gain a deeper understanding of this complex issue and investigate concrete solutions to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time!

The film screening was followed by an expert panel consisting of Dana R. Fisher (Director of the Program for Society and the Environment, Professor of Sociology), Robert Orr (Dean of the School of Public Policy), James Riker (Director of the Beyond the Classroom Living & Learning Program), and R. H. Sprinkle (Associate Professor, Sustainability Minor Co-Director). The panel discussed questions posed by Dr. Riker and then took questions from the audience.

A huge challenge with public events is always ensuring attendance. While we did advertise the event, there was more we could have done to attract a larger audience. In addition to searching for other mediums through which to advertise, we could have reached out to more professors who teach courses related to sustainability to ask them to advertise the event, perhaps even offering extra credit to students for attending the screening and completing a short write-up.

Ultimately, this event succeeded in bringing together students and faculty from different departments and disciplines to engage in a single issue: climate change. It can be easy to lose sight of the true purpose of all of our sustainability initiatives and efforts to “go green”, but the film provided a sobering reminder. “Before the Flood” walked the difficult line between pessimism and optimism: expressing the severity and urgency of the problem without making the situation look hopeless or making the thought of solving it paralyzing while offering enough hope for the future without dismissing the necessity of immediate action.

The panel did an outstanding job of applying the message of the film to the University of Maryland, helped enormously by Dean Orr’s position as a special advisor to the UN on climate change and as a key figure in the Paris climate talks and agreement, which served as a major focus of the film. The panel discussed the importance of youth activism and what students could do on campus to make a different, providing a galvanizing force for action.

A huge message of the Green Office Program is the need to infuse campus culture with an ethic of sustainability. Our event took this message to the wider campus community beyond our own office by communicating the need for sustainability and by engaging students and faculty in conversation about the state of sustainability on our campus.

The screening of “Before the Flood” and expert panel that followed gave our office the opportunity to take the conversation surrounding sustainability to the rest of the university. The event reaffirmed what we already know, but occasionally need to be reminded of: climate change is a very real and very serious problem and the solution to it must occur on all levels from the international Paris Climate Agreement brokered by the UN to the everyday actions taken by individuals on campus towards greater sustainability.

Alona Guseva, Project Assistant - Environmental Finance Center

 

 


North Campus Community Office's Green Journey: Part 2

MARCH 30, 2017: In our previous story about our Green Office journey, we noted the disconnect between the individuals that make up our office and our physical environment. We all operated very independently, yet needed to get on one accord for our Green Office adventure to prove successful. We are pleased to report that our disjointed gap is shrinking.

First, there is nothing like the achievement of Silver certification to rally the troops around Green Office practices. After receiving our new certificate, we all began to give substance to our conversations about sustainable practices. Those of us that own Keurig’s have limited the purchase of prepackaged k-cups and taken to using the refillable adapters. It is this small change in our efforts to become more sustainable that has affected our personal and professional lives.

Additionally, we welcomed our new Associate Director with a live plant, smart strip, and reusable coffee mug.  We are now discussing the possibility of making those gifts standard welcome items for new employees. We believe the gifts are a great introduction to our office’s sustainability initiatives, and create a welcoming environment.

Lastly, we are still working on the reduction of our carbon commuter footprint. We have increased our telework days from once a month to twice a month with the hopes of further increasing it to once a week.

Until then, we are looking for additional opportunities to eliminate waste and to reduce, recycle, and reuse the products we already have. Our pursuit of Green Office success is slowly becoming the North Campus Community Office culture and we are excited about the changes!

Candace Daniels, Coordinator - North Campus Administrative Operations, Department of Resident Life


 


The Green Office Program Celebrates 5 Years

NOVEMBER 9, 2016: The Green Office Program is celebrating its 5th anniversary. For the past five years, staff around campus have engaged in sustainable behavior changes that have decreased energy use, increased recycling habits, and saved money. The Green Office Program has galvanized sustainability as part of Terp Culture and supported the University of Maryland’s Climate Action Plan and Strategic Plan.

To commemorate this milestone, Green Office Representatives, the Office of Sustainability, and SustainableUMD partners came together this summer to recognize their accomplishments during a Green Office celebration event. The guest enjoyed sustainably produced food, received office plants to boost their office air quality, and recognized participants who have played key roles for the past five years. Our longest active GO rep is Carla Montori, Acquisitions and Technical Services, McKeldin Library. She was trained in July 2011 and active ever since! The longest active Green Office is Digital Systems and Stewardship, McKeldin Library, now represented by Judi Kidd. Their first pre-audit was on August 3, 2011. Our smallest office is the Graduate Student Government with just two employees, and our largest office is DOTS – Transit with 250 employees, including drivers. The next largest is the University Health Center with 112 employees.

The Green Office Program means a lot to me. Five years ago, as a rising college senior and environmental science and policy major, I realized I wanted to forge a career path where I helped find real world solutions to critical environmental issues. Interning as a Green Office Education and Outreach intern during the summer pilot of the Green Office Program was my first professional introduction to sustainability. The experience showed me that every individual really can make a contribution to changing how we use resources on a daily basis.

I spent that summer conducting pilot phase audits around campus and finding my voice as a sustainability professional during interactions with members of our campus community. In the office, I worked with my co-intern to create a database of green office products, amazed at the fact that so many products were made of environmentally friendly material like recycled plastic or tree-free paper, and often at the same or cheaper prices. I also learned how individuals could reduce their energy use by changing their computer settings and the type of electronics in their office to energy efficient options.

The Green Office Program has grown from this pilot of 16 offices to 148 certified and participating offices thanks to the enthusiasm of Green Office Representatives that served as liaisons between the Office of Sustainability and their respective offices, amounting to nearly 2,900 (and counting) participating employees. Offices big and small have joined the Green Office Program, and today there are 11 Gold Offices, 33 Silver offices, 38 Bronze offices, and 66 participating offices. All over campus we have sustainability champions that are helping the University of Maryland, the second largest “city” in the state during the academic year, change its environmental impact. The sustainable actions of each Terp really add up when all 47,000 make changes that leave small footprints.

Debbie Namugayi, Sustainability Associate, Office of Sustainability

 

 


Scaling-Up Sustainability: Employee Appreciation Picnic

Editors note: The Division of Administration and Finance had a busy Spring 2016. Last semester they took sustainability to a new level with their zero-waste Employee Appreciation event. As told by Molly Raulin, VPAF Student Support, read below about the steps the team took to create a successful event!

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016: Last spring, my team in the Division of the Vice President of Administration and Finance (VPAF) began planning our annual Employee Appreciation event. We wanted to plan this event with sustainability in mind, but we faced a daunting reality: our Division encompasses numerous departments with almost 1,200 employees! Just thinking about how much waste 1,200 people could generate during a single event had us shaking in our boots. Luckily, our GO Rep, Tacy Lambiase, made it a goal to continue our tradition of having a “zero-waste celebration.” But we found that coordinating a zero-waste event doesn’t just happen without the support of other partners on campus, and a few challenges as well.

First, we decided to host an outdoor picnic, featuring a variety of outdoor games, a surprise giveaway, and raffle prizes. After much deliberation, we settled on a reusable lunch bag for the giveaway to encourage employees to bring their lunch from home and minimize waste. We offered smart power strips, courtesy of the Office of Sustainability, as raffle prizes in an attempt to cut down energy use, as well as potted plants to enhance air quality in our employees’ offices. The tables were even covered in paper tablecloths, instead of the standard plastic ones. These tablecloths turned out to be a win-win: they could be recycled and allowed us to write encouraging and appreciative thank you notes to our employees!

The biggest challenge we faced was planning a waste-free menu for the picnic. Luckily, we have great allies in the Recycling Office and Dining Services who worked with us to accomplish our goal (thank you, Adrienne Small and Rob Fahey!). To ensure that the waste sorting process went smoothly during the event, the Recycling Team provided us with trash, recycling, and compost receptacles, and instructional signs to display above each bin. We also designated volunteers to stand by each waste-sorting station to ensure that food and other waste was being disposed of properly.

In addition, Dining Services provided us with water stations for the event (no plastic bottles), and offered condiments in bulk. Our Pepsi products came in aluminum cans that could be recycled, and almost all other food packaging was compostable. In the end, the only non-recyclable or compostable waste that we produced was the soiled wrappers from the ice cream sandwiches.

We are so grateful to have the support of volunteers and other sustainability-minded people on campus to accomplish our zero-waste endeavors. And as a result, our employees (and us!) had a wonderful and relaxing picnic that did not have to come at the expense of our environment. Our next challenge: getting the VPAF Office Silver-certified!

Molly Raulin, Intern, Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance

 

 


LTSC “GO-Getters” Are Striving Toward Silver!

AUGUST 11, 2016: Last year the Office of Letters and Sciences took some serious steps and committed to creating a sustainable work environment. This year, they are celebrating their 2nd Annual LTSC Green Day Celebration. Read all about the amazing steps that went into the 1st Annual Green Day below:

About one year ago, the Office of Letters and Sciences took on a new challenge to foster  1) sustained awareness and knowledge about campus-wide Sustainability Initiatives , 2) informed decision- making in regards to efficiency and conservation practices, and 3) enthusiastic, empowered, and autonomous GO Change Agents.  As an office, we identified potential barriers and costs/benefits to our success. Most importantly, we identified what we needed from each other to ensure our success with the program. As is common with any office, cost, convenience, and awareness were seen as the major barriers. I mean, who wants to have to think twice about using the Keurig coffee makers or forgoing a trip to Panda Express and bringing lunch instead? It was at that point where we all realized that this was more than a program. This was/is a lifestyle change.

Our highlight of the year was the 1st Annual LTSC Green Day Celebration, co-hosted by the Spirit and Sustainability Committees. The goal of this event was to celebrate the efforts of our staff as well as to share information and best practices in a fun way. Aside from eating delectable treats that were graciously contributed by our talented staff, the event was jam-packed with exciting activities! In collaboration with the Spirit Committee, we created a Sustainability Jeopardy game which helped us put Sustainability into a personal context. Our second activity involved arts and crafts. Regardless of our respective skill level (mine being “minimal”), we all created “Sustainable Door Decs” to remind us to vanquish all power vampires before leaving the office every evening. We even had a guest speaker, Tacy from the Office of Sustainability, who facilitated the Small Footprint Pledge for our staff! Finally, we couldn’t forget about the logistics. All of our dishware and serving-cutlery were either reusable or compostable. Thanks to Facilities Management, we were able to request a few Temporary Compost Bins that we ended up filling to the brim!   

As predicted, accountability, collaboration, and follow-through were at the crux of our success. Consistent communication about resources for practical application as well as relevance to our roles as Advisors was essential. Believe it or not, there are a plethora of opportunities for students and staff to engage in dialogue and take action surrounding the topic of Sustainability! The Office of Sustainability staff members have been great allies in this process as we keep our eyes set on SILVER!

  1. In the Spring ’16 semester, we sponsored 8 LTSC students to attend the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Student Summit.
  2. Via the Sustainability Grant, we were responsible for requesting that a bottle filling station placed in Hornbake South. In just a few months, the station has been used over 7,500 times!
  3. We’ve added a Green Office page to our website.
  4. 12 Staff Members took the Small Footprint Pledge at our 1st Annual “Green Day Celebration” event.
  5. 7 Staff members utilized Sustainability Advisors for their UNIV100 sections in the Fall ’15 semester.
  6. Representatives from the Office of Sustainability were invited to present at a staff meeting as well as an office-wide event dedicated to aspiring STEM majors.
  7. Each month, all unwanted, single-sided copy paper is repurposed as notepads via the Print Shop.
  8. Every (individual) office is equipped with a Smart Strip.
  9. Our office purchases and utilizes a majority of sustainable/recycled products (i.e. tissues, printer paper, ink toner, napkins, cleaning products, etc.).
  10. Our office will participate in, at least, one community service event per semester that involves an environmental development component. During the Spring ’16 semester, we planted a Food Forest for a community in Hyattsville!
  11. All LTSC advisors include the “Bronze-Status” image in their signature.    

Randall Phyall, Go Rep, Office of Letters and Sciences

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu.

Editor's Note: Since this post was first submitted, the Office of Letters and Sciences is proud to update their status to Silver. Check out their listing and checklist here

 

 


Dining Services Support Office Goes Green

NOVEMBER 20, 2015: Bringing sustainability into the workplace can require big changes, but for the Support Office in Dining Services, no change was too big to handle. In the last year, the office added several employees to the teleworking ranks, reducing the office’s commuter carbon footprint. Employees are also made aware of the sustainable culture of the workplace during sustainability training sessions done by Allison Lilly, the Dining Services Sustainability and Wellness Coordinator.

The office has also begun digitizing files, reducing their paper use. Boxes filled with paper records used to be stacked floor to ceiling; those records are now entered into the computer, making room for more sustainable efforts.

However, the creation of Terp Farm has proven to be one of the Support Office’s largest endeavors. Dining Services was benefiting from Terp Farm’s vegetables, but it was unclear by how much. There wasn’t a means to quantify the financial value for the produce. Now, Dining Services has created a location for Terp Farm in FoodPro to be able to track its finances. FoodPro is the software dining services uses to keep track of ordering food, financial records, and transfers. Every dining services unit on campus has location details in FoodPro, but in the past Terp Farm was not included. The Support Office set up a system to log Terp Farm deliveries to the Dining Services units. With the FoodPro system, the Support Office can clearly see how much revenue each delivery generates. That money then goes back into Terp Farm projects. The Dining Services Support Group was able to successfully move income back to the Farm to help support the initiative. All of these efforts help to ensure that Terp Farm is environmentally and economically sustainable!

After achieving Silver certification last year, all staff in the Support Office were given plants grown on Terp Farm as a prize for their sustainability efforts. These plants were annuals that could be planted at home or kept at work – a fitting reward for a green office!

John Mohler, Go Rep, Dining Services - Support Office

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu.

 

 


BSOS Sustainability Plan

NOVEMBER 17, 2015: In spring 2014, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences became the first college at the University of Maryland to formally compose and endorse a sustainability plan. A product of a committee made up of numerous faculty and staff from across the college’s 10 academic departments, the sustainability plan lays out goals and objectives over the course of the next six years. Chief among these goals are college-wide participation in the Green Office Program, a university wide program created by the Office of Sustainability, as well as the green classroom initiative encouraging faculty to reduce paper and energy consumption in their classrooms.

To ensure prioritization and swift implementation of the goals outlined in the plan, a graduate assistant was hired to serve as the BSOS Sustainability Coordinator. Amee Bearne has a strong background in project management, sustainability, and communications and was therefore tasked with taking the lead on implementation of the BSOS Sustainability Plan, under the supervision of the Associate Dean. Amee immediately began work in three key areas: greening the BSOS Dean’s Office, student outreach about sustainability, and faculty/staff/administration buy-in of departmental green programs and other sustainability initiatives as described in the plan and of interest to the community.

In 2014-2015, BSOS’s sustainability program hit some major benchmarks:

·By December 2014, the BSOS Dean’s Office became Bronze Certified through the Green Office Program. They received Silver Certification in November 2015, several months ahead of schedule.

·During the 2014-2015 academic year, 14 new Green Office Reps were appointed and trained. To date, eight of the ten academic departments as well as four BSOS research centers are now participating in the Green Office Program. To date, three BSOS offices are Silver Certified, four are Bronze Certified, and the remaining are actively working toward certification. An updated list can be found here.

·Department heads also appointed lead Green Office Reps who became members of the BSOS Sustainability Committee. This committee meets quarterly to discuss successes, challenges, and synergistic opportunities among the many departments and centers.

A BSOS Sustainability Task Force, made up of 20 undergraduate students spanning nearly all BSOS academic departments as well as engineering and mathematics students, was established. The task force meets weekly, identifies sustainability issues on campus and tackles at least one project per semester through cross-disciplinary collaboration to implement sustainable solutions. After writing a grant proposal in fall 2014 to the UMD Sustainability Fund requesting support to build a solar-powered charging study station – of which the task force researched and designed – the were granted the funds in April 2015. The purchase and installation of the solar-powered charging study stations (with grant money) is expected in spring 2016.

In 2015-2016, additional initiatives include:

·The BSOS Sustainability Task Force continues work toward sustainable solutions surrounding food habits and energy consumption.

·This year’s student initiatives include educating students through culinary experiences about the environmental and social impacts of their food choices. They have written a grant to the campus Sustainability Office to fund a campus-wide event. We pre-tasted the cricket chips. They are delicious.

·A second grant is currently in preparation to fund a BSOS green classroom initiatives that will offer financial assistance to faculty who wish to reduce paper use in their large classrooms by fully adopting ELMS so that all assignment submissions and grading occur in ELMS rather than on paper.

·Each week the sustainability task force curates an online newsletter made up of interesting sustainability related articles from around the world. Check it out here.

·In addition to the actions required for the Bronze Certification, a composting scheme was introduced in the BSOS Dean’s Office. Each semester, the Dean’s office now composts nearly 60 pounds of organic waste that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

·As of June 2015, 11 faculty – teaching 13 courses – have participated in the campus-wide Chesapeake Project.

·Also underway in 2015-16 is a pilot program documenting energy consumption at the individual outlet level using a tool that tracks electricity used locally.

The BSOS Sustainability Plan can be viewed here, and you can keep up on all BSOS Sustainability information – including social media updates – by visiting our webpage.

Amee Bearne, Go Rep, BSOS Dean's Office

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu.

 

 


Reusable Water Bottle Challenge

NOVEMBER 2, 2015: Recently, we decided to tackle a specific sustainability challenge. Within our office, we noticed that some of our members consistently used reusable water bottles while others would routinely carry disposable ones. In order to encourage members of our office to focus on improving the sustainability of our workplace, we decided to institute several new policies to discourage the use of disposable water bottles and to promote awareness of the need for environmentally responsible drinkware.

Since our office is comprised of three different groups of student researchers, we chose to start a competition among the groups to compete for most frequent usage of a reusable bottle. Each student researcher receives one point for his or her team every time he or she brings a reusable water bottle to the office. The scores are tallied in both a spreadsheet and on a white board, and are displayed to encourage sustained participation. This competition will continue until the end of November, and then the winning group will be decided and awarded coffee mugs, as they are a sustainable alternative to disposable drinkware. So far it has been a little challenging to keep the spreadsheet and white board count in sync, and we will need to ensure that the initial attention the competition received does not fade and cause participation to decline.

Overall, the initiative is going well. More student researchers are using reusable water bottles than have in the past and conversations surrounding the reusable bottles have also arisen in the office. Students will share stories of where their water bottles have gone or how often they use them, and this helps to create an environment that eschews the “throw-away” culture so prevalent elsewhere. Furthermore, the focus on water bottles has led to an increased awareness of disposable containers in general. For instance, the issue was brought up that though students may use the same water bottle day in and day out, they may also use plastic cups for cold beverages purchased during the day on a regular basis. Through discussions such as these, we hope to see a thoughtful move towards more sustainable lifestyles for all members of our office.

The Green Office silver checklist helped us develop the idea for this program. Additionally, GO Program stickers and a few posted flyers around the room help to remind us that the true objective of the initiative is not necessarily to win, but to practice sustainable habits.

We’re happy to say that the Reusable Water Bottle Challenge has been a success. It has increased the awareness among our office members of the need to adhere to environmentally friendly practices and helped to further an office culture that actively promotes sustainability. In conclusion, there’s no way to make a change like a challenge!

Ian Page, GO Rep, FIRE - Sustainability Analytics

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


“Reduce Your Paper Towel Use” Stickers

OCTOBER 14, 2015: When our office noticed an increased amount of paper towels being used in the Glenn Martin Hall bathrooms, we decided to find a way to encourage people to reduce their waste. Paper towels were piled up to the top of the waste baskets, and people didn’t seem to be aware that there was a problem: paper towels come from trees!

As a member of the Green Office program, our Sustainability Committee researched how we could make people more aware of their actions. We came up with the idea of creating a sticker that we could place on the paper towel dispensers to remind individuals that paper towels come from trees.

We spoke with Facilities Management and many other individuals to assure that it would not be a problem to place the stickers on the dispensers. Once we were approved to do so, we researched some statements that have been found to be effective in reducing paper towel use. We ultimately decided that our stickers should say, “Reduce Your Use – Paper Towels Come from Trees.” During our Sustainability Committee meetings, we played with designs and logos, and also researched printing companies that printed eco-friendly stickers. Once we had perfected the design and found a company we wanted to use, we placed an order with a company called Uprinting.

When the stickers arrived, we walked around the building and placed the stickers on each paper towel dispenser in every bathroom throughout Glenn Martin Hall! Since we put up the stickers a couple of weeks ago, we have not been able to measure if there has been a significant reduction in paper towel waste. However, we have personally noticed there doesn’t seem to be as much overflow in the bathroom closest to our office. The paper towel stickers are still on the dispensers (no one has taken them down), and we are confident that they will remain there, as many of our engineering students are advocates for sustainability. Our next plan is to install them in the Kim Engineering Building.

Overall, the hardest part was designing the stickers and finding a good printing company to use. We thought that getting the approval to place the stickers on the dispensers was going to be extremely difficult, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was an easy process.

The Office of Sustainability was very helpful throughout this process. We emailed with them frequently and they were especially helpful with getting our design squared away, as we needed things like a high resolution image of the Green Office logo. We couldn’t have done it without them!

We are so excited about this project. We were persistent and confident that it was something we could do, and being able to put the paper towel stickers on the dispensers was as a great sense of accomplishment. It is great to see our hard work whenever we are using paper towel dispensers in the bathroom!

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


DOTS IT Tackles the GO Program, Reduces Commuter Carbon Footprint by 23.7%

SEPTMEBER 3, 2015: When Deshaun Steele, DOTS IT Director, tasked me with the responsibility of leading the Green Office Program for the IT Department, I cannot really say that I was jumping for joy. I knew about recycling due to various departmental sustainability trainings over the years, but that was the extent of my knowledge and sadly my interest. Do not get me wrong, I care about the environment; I was just ignorant of what more I could do personally and professionally to impact the environment in a positive way. I was uncertain if my efforts would be enough, or even noticeable.

On May 14, 2015, I attended my first Green Office training session, and it had an affect on me. After the meeting, I realized we (human beings) are in trouble and it’s in everyone’s best interest to be responsible and knowledgeable about how to use our resources. Armed with a purpose, flyers, binder clips, and a checklist, I set out to change the world (and by world, I mean DOTS IT).

I work with some of the most supportive, flexible, and awesome people around. With the help of my colleagues, we have gone above and beyond my expectations. We were the first DOTS office to reach Bronze this year, and we are about to be the first to reach Silver. Obtaining Bronze created a snowball effect within the Department of Transportation Services to motivate the other offices to obtain their Green Office certifications. Now, everyone is racing to become Gold Certified first!

Here is a list of some of our accomplishments over the past few months:
1. Since we started the Green Office Program, we have reduced our commuter carbon footprint by 23.7%! 
2. About 40% of our staff members bike or walk to work.
3. Staff members came together to provide money for plants around the office.
4. We made a conscious decision to use stairs instead of elevators on campus, as well as refrain from pushing the accessibility button on doors.
5. We switched to 100% recycled paper and made plans to only use green cleaning products.
6. We’ve organized interdepartmental “Bike to Lunch” events to downtown College Park and Hyattsville.
7. We’ve replaced all of our old power strips with smart power strips on non-server computers.

Those are just a few of the improvements we have made over a few short months, and we are just getting started. Here at DOTS IT, we are excited and focused on not only becoming Gold Certified, but also changing our work and home lifestyles to be more sustainable!

Jean Bosquet, GO Rep, DOTS - IT

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

Diamondback, September 10, 2015: DOTS IT office certified at silver level in on-campus Green Office program

 

 


Led by "Captain Green," Resident Life Office Achieves Bronze Certification

JULY 7, 2015: Once upon a time, the Department of Resident Life’s Office of Educational Programs and Outreach awoke from a scary dream that all the trees on campus were eliminated, and our students were surrounded by concrete! Immediately, our team of super heroes, led by Captain Green, put a plan in motion for our small office to do its part on campus and keep this nightmare from becoming a reality. We adopted the motto of “Terps Leave Small Footprints,” and joined the Sustainability Office’s Green Office program.

We met with the entire office team and presented our challenge to become Bronze Certified. It took a few months to complete the checklist, and for Green Office habits to become the norm. But the culture of the office has changed: recycle bins have replaced trashcans, we print double-sided when appropriate, and created a single-sided paper recycling tray to reuse when possible. Now, when staff members depart for meetings, computer monitors and office lights are turned off and power vampires are unplugged.

Our student employees have also joined in, and were so thrilled with the purchase of 8 new plants for the office. They even named them and decorated the planters! In addition, our staff is currently taking part in the 3x10 Summer Walking Challenge and has reduced vehicle use when attending meetings on campus.

We are excited for the next chapter of the Green Office program, and are working diligently towards Silver Certification!

Christopher Mertens, GO Rep, Resident Life - Office of Educational Program and Outreach

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Woods Hall Rain Garden Gets a Makeover

MAY 8, 2015: As part of the Green Office Program, the Department of Anthropology hosts a sustainability event each semester to promote our GO initiatives. The Woods Hall Rain Garden Cleanup and Potluck served as our spring 2015 event.

The rain garden on the west side of Woods Hall is intended to contain plant species native to Maryland, and divert rainwater away from the lower floors of the building. It is an important part of the building’s stormwater management plan, as well as an aesthetically pleasing feature. Over time, however, the garden had become overgrown and a little chaotic, hindering both its function and its beauty.

Students, staff, and faculty affiliated with the department volunteered to clean up the rain garden. Under the guidance of Michael Carmichael, the Storm Water Management Coordinator with Facilities Management, we removed invasive species, redistributed ground cover materials, and added stones to fortify the drainage stream.

Michael also told us about the university’s sustainable landscaping initiatives, as well as the design of the Woods Hall rain garden. Not only were we able to have a fun time with friends, but we learned about news ways to “go green.”

After a few hours of working in the garden, we celebrated our success with a potluck lunch. Office staff members brought homemade food in reusable dishes, but opted to use disposable plates and flatware from our existing supply of leftovers. We’ve found that weighing challenges and opportunities, costs and benefits is important when transitioning to more sustainable habits.

The Woods Hall rain garden looks a lot different than it did before. While it will take some time for the native plants to fill in the spots where invasive thistles were removed, the drainage stream is cleared of debris and should function better. We are looking forward to reaping the benefits of this cleanup in the future.

With this event, we were able to coordinate with other university departments to make our “home” space more beautiful and sustainable. While the rain garden isn’t inside our office, it is important to the well-being of our department and the whole campus community. Cleaning up the garden was a fun and educational way to connect our department’s GO initiatives to the bigger picture of a more sustainable UMD.

Amelia Hood, GO Rep, Department of Anthropology

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

Gemstone Honors Program Reduces Paper Waste by 60%

APRIL 20, 2015: Every year, the Gemstone Honors Program holds the Annual Gemstone Thesis Conference. During this conference, undergraduate teams present and defend four years of valuable research to a room full of a guests and a panel of experts. Upwards of 300 programs are printed for attendees each year.

After each conference, Gemstone staff members began to notice that these programs were an unnecessary form of waste. Even though the programs are printed double-sided on recycled paper, they still wanted to do more. Therefore, Gemstone decided to create an electronic program for this year’s conference!

By encouraging the majority of attendants to download the electronic version of the program, Gemstone will cut back on paper programs by 60%. They plan to direct attendees online to access the program. In addition, they are planning to expand this effort to their annual citation ceremony, too. Staff members are excited to unveil this new initiative, and hope to get positive feedback from attendees.

The Gemstone Office also recently recertified as a Gold-level Green Office. Their commitment to sustainability is evident as they continue to provide green alternatives for their daily office activities. Vickie Hill, GO Rep and Assistant Director of Operations, said that “the continued discussions and talks about recycling has sparked team efforts to find simple ways to be more sustainable in everyday tasks and productivity in the workplace.”

It’s always important to remember that it doesn’t take a lot to make a positive impact when it comes to sustainability. It just takes individuals who care about the small things, and big changes can happen as a result.

Sean Jones, Green Office Intern, Office of Sustainability

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Composting at Work: Lessons Learned

APRIL 15, 2015: In an effort to be more sustainable, our office has been composting since December 2013. A former Graduate Assistant, Sarah Lazarus, introduced the concept to our office and did a great job of kick-starting the initiative. Now, the full-time staff are working to improve the composting process.

In the beginning, Dining Services was able to help us get the process started by creating a pick-up site right outside of the Mitchell Building. It’s definitely much easier to participate when we have a compost bin close to our office. In addition, we were also able to acquire a composting bin and bags for our kitchen area with the help of Aynsley Toews and the Office of Sustainability.

At first, it was hard to break the habit of throwing everything in the trash. Sarah believed that the key changing our behavior “was to send intermittent reminders to everyone to remind them to compost.” During one of our staff meetings, we decided to come up with another way to help us “think before we toss.” We created three different signs that list and show examples of items that are recyclable, compostable, or need to be thrown away. Then, we hung each sign above their respectable bins in our kitchen as a reminder for us and our guests.

When we have social events that include people from other offices, we put the compost bin nearby so that we can increase participation. This has also encouraged more people to ask about what items they can compost. It has created a great opportunity for us to spread the word about composting to others and hopefully increase participation throughout the campus community.

As a whole, our office composting efforts are continuing to improve. As my coworker Zimri Diaz says, “I really appreciate working in an office that values composting. We’ve come a long way from learning to conserve energy to valuing composting.”

Carolina P. Ethridge, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


The CYC Presents: Little Free Libraries!

MARCH 27, 2015: The Center for Young Children was recently recertified as a Gold Green Office. The CYC has been known for its educational and innovative green initiatives, and continues to participate in Trash Free Tuesdays, the installation of rain barrels, and their Green Snaps Board, which recognizes sustainable actions.

Most recently, the CYC decided to install a communal library. If you look on the grassy median strip adjacent to the CYC parking lot, you will see what looks like two doll houses perched upon two wood posts. These are actually “Little Free Libraries” sponsored by Center for Young Children. Little Free Libraries are small shelters where people may leave books or take books for their own enjoyment. Having a central, public place for people to donate and exchange goods (in this case, books) can promote reuse and sustainability.

The idea for a Little Free Library was inspired by McKeldin Library’s “trading area,” a place where people can leave unwanted items for others to take and reuse. Jennifer Eidson, a member of the CYC Green Committee, wanted the Center to have something similar, and the Little Free Libraries were created. Greg Thompson, another CYC Committee member, offered to make the libraries using mostly recycled materials, and two boxes were constructed: one for children’s books, and one for adult books. The boxes were installed and stocked with donations in May of 2014.

Lisa Taneyhill, a CYC PTA member, is the current steward of the library. “The Little Free Library is a great way to share your love of reading with others, giving easy access to books for children and adults,” Taneyhill said. She and her 4-year-old son check the boxes twice a week, straightening and organizing them as needed. Lisa’s son enjoys being a steward for the tiny libraries, too, and likes “being able to take out books and then share them with other friends.”

The CYC hopes that anyone in the area will come and check out the libraries, leave a book, or take a book. Many CYC families have already donated books to the libraries, and to keep up with the demand for children’s books, the CYC plans to take up a collection to purchase more from a local thrift store. In the future, a bench and flower garden will be installed so that the books can be read and enjoyed outdoors on a nice day.

These Little Free Libraries have become a special part of the CYC. As one patron expressed, happening upon a special book in the libraries is like finding a treasure.

Vera Wiest, GO Rep, Center for Young Children

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Department of Environmental Safety Celebrates the Holidays with Bow-Making, Cookie Exchange

DECEMBER 17, 2014: During the last full week of work before the holidays, our department decided to have a celebration–a sustainable one, of course!

My Environmental Safety coworkers and I gathered in our conference room to eat delicious cookies and learn how to make gorgeous holiday bows out of old magazines, scrapbook paper, and unwanted mailings. It was fun to come together as an office to not only socialize, but to learn how to upcycle unwanted materials into something unique and useful. Several attendees commented that they “really enjoyed making beautiful bows out of materials that otherwise who have been discarded.”

Members of the LEAF Outreach Team were also on hand to help with the effort. Staff members who were new to bow-making received a tutorial from the students, and quickly became familiar enough with the process to make their own bows.

Personally, this event taught me a new skill that I could share with my friends and family. When I took my bows home with me over the holidays, my mom and grandmother thought that they looked so professional–like I had bought them at a store! We ended up spending an evening making more of them for the rest of our gifts. And, while we did save money and resources on gift wrapping, we also just had fun making them together.

Overall, the event was a success and a great way to round out the year. We’re hoping to host other sustainability-related events in the future, including a “Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products” event this spring. If you and your coworkers are interested in trying out a hands-on, upcycling craft project, I would definitely recommend hosting a bow-making workshop. Wrapping decorations aren’t just for the winter holiday season either. You could make them for birthdays, baby showers, or even Valentine’s Day! And it’s a lot fun to see how crafty and creative your office mates can be.

Tacy Lambiase, Sustainability Associate, Office of Sustainability

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Lunch and Learn: Zero-Waste Lunch and Screening of "The Story of Stuff"

DECEMBER 16, 2014: This December, the Events Office at The Clarice decided to host a lunch and learn event focused on sustainability. I really wanted to do a lunch and learn event because we often discuss sustainability during our staff meetings, and I started to feel that it was getting to be “business as usual.” I wanted to find a new way for us to talk about sustainability, and bond as a team at the same time.

After working out a time when all seven of my colleagues could meet, I began surveying our options in terms of videos to watch at the lunch and learn. Almost all of the documentaries I looked at were around two hours long - way too long for a lunch meeting. “The Story of Stuff,” however, was easily accessible through YouTube, only lasts 20 minutes, and showcases the full lifecycle of consumer goods.

“The Story of Stuff” traces the production of common goods from initial resource extraction, to production, to consumption, and then, finally, to landfills. It shows the hidden story behind many of the products we use, and drives home the point that while our society pressures us to buy more “stuff” every day, there are consequences of consumption that we may not always think about. While “The Story of Stuff” is a very clear and concise informational video, a few of my coworkers were a bit uncomfortable with some of the political overtones of the video. I hope to find other short films in the future that can shed light on important environmental issues while stimulating positive conversations among everyone in attendance.

After watching the video, we all sat around, eating holiday cookies that our boss brought to the meeting, and talked about sustainability. One of my coworkers asked about the benefits of composting, and we were able to talk about it as a group and provide him with information on where to get a compost bin. In addition, we talked about holiday gifts and how we all feel pressure to buy lots of gifts for our family and friends. It was a great, informal way to bring sustainability into our office conversation, and revive the topic from an expected agenda item to a commonality we can all talk about.

Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy our lunch and learn. Our office has been Bronze certified for a while now, and we’re currently striving for Silver certification. I’d like to make these kind of events a monthly occurrence, as long as I can find other short videos or figure out a way to screen longer documentaries over several installments. Additionally, I’d like to invite the rest of our department to these events in the future, so we can encourage more offices in The Clarice to “go green”!

Ariel Tebbe, GO Rep, The Clarice – Events Office (Production)

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Coming Together: North Campus Community Office’s Green Journey

DECEMBER 1, 2014: The North Campus Community Office is pretty different from other offices on campus. For one, it houses office space for the North Campus Associate and Assistant Director, Coordinators for the Syn*Quest Collaborative and Administrative Operations, and Graduate Assistants for the Syn*Quest Collaborative and Math Success. That’s quite a few separate offices in one!

Prior to the opening of the Oakland Hall in 2011, all of these positions were located in different locations across North Campus. As such, we all operated under the different guises of the communities with which we were affiliated. In terms of the Green Office program, this means that all of our formerly separate offices had been progressing through certification levels at varying rates. For instance, if the Coordinators for Syn*Quest and Administrative Operations still had their offices in the Denton Community, they would be Gold certified. But if the Associate and Assistant Director’s offices were still located in the Ellicott Community, they would have achieved Bronze certification, with aspirations for Silver and Gold.

Given these circumstances, bringing everyone together to participate in the Green Office program has been a challenge. We have never been a group to meet regularly, as we all operate on our own terms; location really is the main glue that holds us together. Consequently, we’ve had to make a concentrated effort to infuse sustainable practices into our office culture just to achieve Bronze certification. For example, something as simple as signing the Green Office pledge took us months to plan and multiple attempts to schedule. However, it was an exciting day when we achieved Bronze certification - something that truly united us as one office!

Since then, communication about sustainable practices and the desire to achieve Silver and Gold certification has increased throughout the office. It is no longer a random conversation that comes up when the thought occurs to one of us, but an active conversation about what more we can do.

It is not our intention to “brag” about our own sustainability progress, but rather, to encourage other office in similar situations to give the Green Office program a try. We’ve found that it has helped unite our office culture and build momentum to tackle sustainability challenges.

Candace Daniels, GO Rep, Resident Life - North Campus Community Office

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Ellicott Community Staff, RAs Find New Ways to Reach Residents

JULY 24, 2014: The Ellicott Community Office participates in a number of sustainable initiatives that not only are general things all offices can do to help be more environmentally friendly, but are also initiatives specific to our department. Primary among these is our participation in the Green Office Challenge. Because we reach so many students in such a concentrated area, we promote green initiatives in the Residence Halls with our RAs and residents.

Our main focus in promoting sustainable lifestyles with residents is our effort to provide resources for our Resident Assistants (RA) in encouraging sustainability. One of our techniques is a new game that demonstrates what’s recyclable and what is not by using actual recyclable items. When an RA holds a program relating to sustainability, they can check out one or two boxes from our office that contain a number of recyclable items and a handful of items that can only be disposed of in landfills. The residents then sort out which items in the box are recyclable and which are not. This can be used either as demonstration by the RA or in team competition with residents.

In addition to the recycling game, we have made it easier for RAs to feature sustainability on their floors. To do this we created a bulletin board as a shared document for the RAs. The board explains how students on campus can be more sustainable in the dining and residence halls by using solutions such as reusable water bottles at the refill stations, using the OZZI containers, and reporting leaky fixtures to 4-WORK, our Residential Facilities phone number. We printed one copy of the board and laminated it to allow RAs to reuse the same copy instead of printing multiple copies for every board. We’re hoping that RAs will trade this bulletin board among each other and/or use a check-out system in the Ellicott Community Office.

Based on feedback from the RAs who have used it so far, it seems to really be getting the point across to Residents. It’s something an RA can pepper a sustainability program with to get their floor into a little team bonding and it clearly lays out what’s recyclable and what’s not.  Overall, it’s gone really well and we’re glad we could initiate this to make sustainability more accessible for RAs and easier to get across to residents.

Overall, it’s gone really well and we're glad we could make sustainability more accessible for RAs and easier to get across to residents.

Jordan Carter-Reich, GO Rep, Ellicott Community

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 

Office of Engineering Undergraduate Advising and Academic Support Earns Bronze Through Culture Shifts and Behavior Change

JULY 8, 2014: It was a busy Spring 2014 semester for UA&AS. In addition to our regular responsibilities of academic advising, coordinating orientation programs, clearing students for graduation, and welcoming new transfer students, we achieved the Bronze Level Green Office Certification from the Office of Sustainability.

Participating in the Green Office program has opened our eyes to viewing our daily operations from a more ecologically-aware perspective. The process was certainly not without its challenges: academic advising offices are filled with paper! From student files to paper forms to printed transcripts, we rely on paper to complete many of our responsibilities.  In addition, our office did not have an existing culture of waste consciousness. We wanted to modify our habits without compromising efficiency, timeliness, student satisfaction with our services, and the security of student data.

We focused on several key areas to reach the Bronze level: reducing paper consumption, minimizing wasted energy, and improving recycling literacy. To address the issue of paper usage, our office switched our purchasing habits to 100% recycled paper, started collecting single-sided printed paper for reuse, and started moving many of our orientation forms online, which has prevented thousands of pieces of paper from being printed for our summer orientation programs. Eventually we would like to move many of our student records online – this is a long term goal!

To develop energy-saving habits, we engaged in a “Lights Out” competition where coworkers could earn points for shutting off lights that other coworkers left on. As one advisor noted, the motion sensor lights in her office had made her accustomed to leaving lights on when she left a room, relying on the sensor to shut it off in five minutes. She commented that the experience of being “caught” in the competition “helps me remember each time I step out of my office” and taught her that “each small action and every second of energy counts.”

Not only do we shut off lights, but we also purchased SmartStrip surge protectors to reduce energy wasted by power vampires and to keep the majority of electronics off over nights and weekends.

Recycling was a new frontier for some in our office. As one of our advisors commented, “I was accustomed to throwing things away and recycling was never my cup of tea. Being a part of this green office has opened my eyes to the benefits of recycling.” The positive attitudes in our office helped us stay dedicated to these lifestyle changes. Our office has vastly improved its recycling practices and we are all now using reusable water bottles and dishware as well.

As we now prepare for Silver certification, we are working hard to sprout and pot more office plants and change purchasing practices to buy products from entirely sustainable, earth-friendly sources. The program has given many in our office the chance to share their expertise in ways that would not have surfaced otherwise: green thumbs, tupperware and mug-sharers, paper-savers and even thrift store mavens! We look forward to the green road ahead.

Alex Ralph, GO Rep, Engineering - Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Support

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Going Green Behind the Scenes: Dining Services Operations and Business

JULY 8, 2014: Dining Services has gained attention for serving sustainable food, but the support and business offices have also been make big steps for sustainability in their behind-the-scenes operations, from reducing paper use to reducing commuting footprints to professional development that incorporates sustainability.

Before beginning the GO Program, the offices went through five cases of paper a week to print business documents. Now, most of these are saved as electronic files. The offices currently uses about half a case of paper a week. Dining Services support staff have also reduced their commuter carbon footprint. Due to telecommuting, the office's commuter carbon footprint has shrunk by over 10%. Several IT workers telecommute from home, saving hundreds of miles driven to and from work each week. One programmer moved closer to campus, cutting his commute distance from seven and a half miles to one mile; he also takes Shuttle-UM twice a week and telecommutes once a week. A server engineer who lives 25 miles from campus telecommutes twice a week, saving 100 of commuting miles per week. Making use of a full range of telecommute and transportation options has really made a difference.

Some noticeable changes within the office include a water filling station (staff bring their own reusable bottles instead of disposable bottled water) and a live plant for every office. Office plants help improve indoor air quality and can brighten up a workspace. Finally, an innovative step for Dining Services is a new spring training course. Says John Mohler, “They were made mandatory this spring to explain our vision for dining service sustainability for now and into the future.” Allison Lilly, Dining Services Sustainability and Wellness Coordinator, led the trainings. Mohler assures that this is not the end for Dining and sustainability – there is still “more to follow.”

John Mohler and Ciara Dubik, GO Reps - Dining Services - Support Services

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Creative Thinking for Green Office Eating

JUNE 5, 2014: The Center for Leadership & Organizational Change (CLOC) joined the GO program, in part, to get a rebate on a refrigerator. Because we committed to bringing more of our lunches (and breakfasts) in reusable containers, we quickly outgrew our little dorm fridge. Turns out the size we needed to accommodate this commitment didn’t come in an EnergyStar model, or any other rebate-eligible model on the Office of Sustainability’s list.
So we became interested in other ways to be better environmental stewards through the awards program. As a small shop with a variety of work schedules and a tiny office space, it’s been a challenge to find 15 things on a list that fit us: “Fleet vehicles? You mean my aging Accord or the creaky public buses my co-worker rides?" It’s been wonderful, though, to see how the process has sparked all kinds of creative thinking. Someone brought in a beautiful, thrifted set of flatware and a holder. We share one large container of half & half, instead of ordering a bunch of tiny individual creamers. We even collect the coffee grounds from our used K-cups and deposit them in a Stamp Union compost bin.

We still have work to do. It’s tricky to classify a random office conversation on greening into a “sustainability special event” or to get folks to let go of the water cooler, but CLOC will keep going for the Gold.

Monette Bailey, GO Rep, Center for Leadership & Organizational Change

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


AREC GO Committee Grows Office Plants

APRIL 22, 2014: AREC is located at Symons Hall, which was constructed in 1940. Parts of the building have not been renovated in a very long time, and a number of AREC members have experienced increased allergies. As a long term goal, efforts are underway to update the existing offices. To tackle the problem of air quality, AREC’s Green Office Committee decided to create a plant nursery at the Business Office and plan an internal Plant Giveaway project. The purpose of the project was not only to give away plants but also to raise awareness of air quality issues and solutions. Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students were also encouraged to bring a plant from home.

On April 2, 2014 AREC’s Green Office Committee members planted spider plants for our Department. The office purchased soil and flower pots, but used the “babies” of a mature plant provided by the Office of Sustainability in early 2014. A sign-up sheet was placed on a departmental sustainability-themed bulletin board for those who want to request a plant along with “AREC living plant care requirements.”

GO Rep Nataliya Brantly commented on a challenge of the Plant Giveaway, "We were forced to recognize one of the limitations in our department. Some of the offices at AREC have no windows, so it would not be practical to have a plant there. As a longer term plan, we want to shift offices around so more people would be able to have windows in their offices." For now, however, 11 plants were requested and distributed among the department in April!

Reflecting on the successes of the project, Nataliya said, "We tried to keep the cost down for this project. It was great that we were able to use the offshoots of a mature spider plant that was given to our GO Representative by the Office of Sustainability! GO Information on plant care and benefits of indoor plants was used to inform everyone and encourage them to have a plant in the office." She also noted the enjoyment that comes from a group effort to go green: "Planting with your coworkers is a fun and relaxing event. Great for team building as well as the GO program."

Nataliya Brantly, GO Rep, Agricultural and Resource Economics

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Gemstone Program Goes Green

FEBRUARY 11, 2014: The Gemstone Program is working very hard to become a green office. The Gemstone staff and students are finding more ways to save energy and money by going green. The actions we have completed thus far include double-sided copying, using 100% recycled paper, recycling toner cartridges, going paperless in our staff meetings, and installing an energy efficient refrigerator and microwave.  A few employees take Metro instead of driving to work. We even had Residential Facilities install fluorescent lighting in all the offices. In addition, we recently installed two energy LCD monitors in two of our meeting rooms.  The Gemstone staff and students are being energy and resource efficient, as well as conscious of improving the work environment.

To be more sustainable in the workplace, we are keeping things simple and going low-cost to help everyone go green while saving green. The staff has moved from store-bought water bottles to reusable water bottles and using the newly installed water filling station to refill their water bottles. The staff also bring their lunch to work. We buy the majority of products for the office in bulk to minimize package waste; we have contacted vendors and companies to remove us from their mailing list to stop unnecessary catalogs or magazines being mailed to the office.  

Some of the changes we’re making in the office have helped our workspace become not just more sustainable, but also healthier.  We switched our dish detergent to non-toxic cleaning products.  Soon, the staff will be getting green thumbs. Since we learned that plants filter indoor air pollutants and increase the flow of oxygen, new green life has found a home on our desks.

We are trying to be proactive about changing the way we do things in the office. It will take some time, but the Gemstone staff are willing participants and excited about the changes.

Vickie Hill, GO Rep, Gemstone Program Office

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Center for Young Children is First Gold Office

JANUARY 30, 2014: The Center for Young Children recently had its Post-Gold Audit, becoming the first Gold office in the Green Office Program.  The CYC, as a child care center, has the unique ability to reach staff, children at the center, and student aides and intern through its Green Office and sustainability efforts.  Vera Wiest, the GO Rep for the CYC, has led the Green Committee in taking steps toward sustainability.  But, it’s not just Vera and the other CYC staff who are working on their Green Office goals.  Parents of CYC-enrolled children are also involved, and as part of their Green School Certification (a designation granted by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education), the CYC must have students serving on the school’s green committee.

Sustainability is incorporated into the children’s education as well.  For example, the kindergarteners chart lunch waste on Trash Free Tuesdays.  After weighing the trash from lunches, the students add the numbers to their chart.  Teachers in the CYC encourage reuse of art materials and collect paper that has been drawn or written on one side (a kid-friendly version of Bronze #26!).  One day a week, students can only draw on or use the paper that has been used on one side.  On the day of the CYC’s Post-Gold Audit, some students were also preparing to show the final results of a sustainability themed project: students designed playgrounds to be built using recycled or reused materials.   Vera explained that for this project, the students learned about recycling and reuse and visited other playgrounds to see different designs.

The CYC accomplished some of the more straightforward actions on the Gold Checklists – they have replaced all power strips with Smart Strips (which can be purchased from the Office of Sustainability), have composting in their kitchen and small compost bins in individual offices, and provide sustainable coffee and tea for staff.  Plants are found throughout the office (a Silver checklist action), including in classroom areas, and Vera says that there are approximately 70 plants in the entire CYC. 

However, they also developed some creative strategies for achieving some of the other actions.  For example, the CYC hosted their own e-waste drive to sustainably dispose of electronics.  They installed a rain barrel and use it to water the garden with the children. Vera even came up with a new way to recognize coworkers who perform green actions: instead of distributing paper postcards or other materials, she hung a dry-erase board in the kitchen/break room area.  All staff in the CYC are able to recognize coworkers’ accomplishments by writing up someone’s name and what they did on the board. 

At the January 2014 GO Reps lunch, Vera spoke to the other Reps about her experiences getting to gold.  She encouraged offices to do their best and not get bogged down if other coworkers struggle with the checklists.  Vera shared stories from her own office: for instance; one coworker who was fond of using colorful or holiday themed paper plates for meetings and events now uses (still colorful and festive) washable plates instead.  Everyone moves at their own pace when it comes to sustainability.  It may take time, “but they’ll get there,” Vera said.

Kate Richard, Sustainability Associate, Office of Sustainability

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Denton Community Throws First GreenFest Celebration

OCTOBER 2, 2013: As a Green Office, the Denton Community has a continuing goal of enhancing sustainability education is one of the Denton Community's ongoing goals for the professional and student staff in the community. To meet this goal, the Denton Community hosted a sustainability fair, GreenFest, during the spring 2013 semester. The purpose of this sustainability fair was to encourage education and celebration of sustainable living practices.  GreenFest was planned by Denton Community Graduate Assistant and Green Office representative Allison Ray, in coordination with community residents and Resident Assistants. Allison engaged and advised the four community Hall Councils, Denton Community Green Squad, Oakland Hall Sustainability Committee, and 60 Resident Assistants in organizing and implementing the event.

Throughout the planning process, Allison encouraged participants to engage students with interactive activities or to present information in an innovative way. Although the day was considerably cold, there was representation from: Denton Community Green Squad, Office of Sustainability, Green Dining, Rooftop Community Garden, VegTerps, RHA Sustainability Committee, Terps for Animal Welfare, Food Co-Op, Bike UMD, greeNewit, Sony Electronics, UMD Farmer’s Market, Scrap DC, Davey Rogner with the Harvest Collective and Pick up America bus and FishyCorn Car, and organic non-GMO food provided by Whole Foods. Overall, the event was quite successful, and the Denton Community is excited about GreenFest 2014!

If any Green Offices or representatives would like to participate in GreenFest 2014, please contact Allison Ray at aray@umd.edu or 301-314-4645. She will begin reaching out to potential participants in the upcoming weeks.

Allison Ray, GO Rep, Denton Community Office

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Department of Geographical Sciences Achieves Bronze Certification in All Departmental Offices

AUGUST 30, 2013: As of July 2013, every office in the Department of Geographical Sciences has received Bronze certification in the Green Office program, making the department the first to achieve Green Office certification in all their offices.  But this was not the first step the department has taken toward sustainability.  In 2010, a group of students and staff met to plan ways “to decrease the Department’s environmental footprint and better align with our teaching and research objectives to ‘walk the talk.’”  The Geography Sustainability Task Force (GSTF) was formed the same year.  In the GSTF, students, staff, and faculty all plan activities and strategies “to make the department ‘greener.’”  The department saw signs of progress within two years.  Says Katie Holland, “By 2012, the majority of the Department was using recycled paper products, defaulting to double-sided printing, hosting minimal-waste seminars, and increasing our recycling awareness.”

When the Green Office program was established, GSTF members were excited to join.  Four department representatives attended a GO rep training; a presentation from one GO Rep during a semester faculty meeting followed.  “The reception was very supportive of the initiative and subsequently the GSTF recruited more GO Rep volunteers to tackle the ambitious goal of having the entire department achieve the GO Program’s first goal of bronze-level status,” says Holland.  Through work of GO Reps and volunteers, department-wide enthusiasm and participation, and the support of Departmental Chairman Chris Justice, the Department of Geographical Sciences has reached their goal of having every office Bronze-certified.  The achievement is even more impressive when considering that department is split between two offices, and their main building – LeFrak Hall – has been under construction since the department joined the Green Office program.

That’s not all for the Department of Geographical Sciences.  “We are not resting on our laurels,” says Holland.  The department will continue to strive for Silver certification.  Further, their work has helped the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, supported by Dean John Townshend, begin to create their own Sustainability Action Plan.  The department hopes other university offices and departments will go green and they have found their experience in the Green Office program to be a very positive one.  Holland states, “The GO Program succeeded in uniting [the Department of Geographical Sciences], a department nearly 200 strong, behind a common goal which will benefit the Maryland community as a whole.  We are now eager to achieve silver certification and we encourage other departments to follow suit.”

Katie Holland, Department of Geographical Sciences

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Campus Recreation Service "Grows Green" with Office Plants

AUGUST 12, 2013: To reach Silver certification in the Green Office program, Campus Recreation Services (CRS) decided to bring plants into their offices.  Rebecca Cegledy and Shawn Dennis say that CRS chose this action as “a way to become greener and positively enhance their work environments.”

CRS took a two-phase approach to bringing plants into the office.  First, they decided what plants people wanted in the office and started to buy the materials needed to help the plants thrive.  Second, the plants were actually brought to the offices.  Barb Aiken, Associate Director of Programs, offered to grow plants from her own personal garden and donate them to the CRS Green Office effort.  She provided six plants to the main offices in the Eppley Recreation Center and to offices at Ritchie Coliseum.  CRS also bought bamboo plants and some colorful cacti as other plant options for employees.

Cegledy and Dennis commented, “The plants have not only lightened and brightened up spaces, they have also helped change the tone of offices to a more inviting place.”  They also note the health benefits of having a plant to improve indoor air quality of the offices.  Overall, the CRS staff have enjoyed the Green Office, and Cegledy and Dennis say, “CRS is enjoying implementing actions like adding plants to office spaces in an effort to “grow green” as a department.”

Rebecca Cegledy and Shawn Dennis, GO Reps, Campus Recreation Services

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 

Dining Services Launches Green Tidings Mobile

JUNE 16, 2013: Dining Services’ catering kitchen and payroll staff have recently embarked on a new and highly visible green project: Green Tidings Mobile.  “Our food truck has been a lightning rod to unify the Good Tidings Catering and our green office methods,” said William Rogers, Executive Chef.  From the truck itself to how the staff run operations on a daily basis, Green Tidings Mobile is a literal green machine.

The A. James Clark School of Engineering donated the truck, formerly used for mailing, to Dining Services.  The Dining Services maintenance team rebuilt the vehicle for food service out of 75% used materials and equipment already on campus.  Rogers commented on overhauling the truck, "The challenge was building a kitchen from scratch on a truck with limited space. I’ve never designed a kitchen before and it was a great learning experience for me personally."

The truck was rebuilt to be low-fuel and energy efficient. Energy Star equipment and an efficient generator power the truck, which only uses five gallons of gasoline a day.  The cooking equipment is fueled by natural gas.

When cooking up meals from local ingredients, the food truck’s staff write all orders on recycled, used-paper notepads.  95% of plates, cups, cutlery, and other serve ware used by Green Tidings Mobile are compostable.  The truck even provides a weekly sustainability tip to customers. Rogers notes that customers are excited about the service as well as the food, and he and the other staff "try to keep our green theme in the forefront of our minds when changing something on the truck."

Says Rogers, “This green food truck project has gotten our directors to recognize that we need to offer a green china service offering for our Good Tidings Catering.”  In the near future, Good Tidings clients will be able to choose compostable china for their events.

Will Rogers, GO Rep, Dining Services - Stamp Catering Office

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Celebrating UMD Libraries While Minimizing Waste

MAY 15, 2013: The Library Sustainability Committee wanted to tackle a trash problem.  Every year in December, the University Libraries throws a staff appreciation event.  The McKeldin Special Events Room is filled with over 200 librarians, staff, student assistants, and retirees, along with decorations, food and drink.  Though the event is always a fun occasion, the Library Sustainability Committee was concerned with the trash produced: “Bags and bags of trash!  And it all ends up in the Prince George’s County landfill,” said Alan Mattlage, Public Services Librarian.  The Committee volunteered to organize the most recent event, hoping to make it a greener celebration.  Says Mattlage, “We were worried, though, that our colleagues might expect a drab, belt-tightening affair if they thought a bunch of environmentalists were in charge, so we kept our identity under wraps.“

The undercover Library Sustainability Committee members found a way to pull off the event, making it as fun as always but also improving their waste management.  They were able to find a caterer who could provide vegan and vegetarian options alongside chicken and salmon; some food was also seasonal and local.  All of the tableware was compostable as well.  Decorations were reused from previous years’ events and supplemented by plants from one event organizer’s garden.  At the end of the event, the Library Sustainability Committee was thrilled to discover that only three pounds of trash were produced.  Food scraps and china were composted, and uneaten food was donated to the Family Emergency Shelter in Langley Park, Maryland.

Mattlage was able to offer some advice from the experience: “It was most satisfying to prove that one can put on an environmentally responsible event and have it come off so well.  Engaging in more sustainable practices doesn’t need to mean making sacrifices.”

Alan Mattlage, GO Rep, McKeldin Libraries - Humanities Library

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 

Taking a Bite Out of Power Vampires

MARCH 21, 2013: “The Facilities Department in Stamp needed a way to take a bite out of break room power vampires,” says Dan Wray, Assistant Director for Facilities at Stamp Student Union.  Power vampires are devices which, while plugged in, continue to drain power even when they’re turned off.  Wray explained that other common office equipment – copiers, printers, computers – have sleep modes or power save modes, toasters, microwaves, and other kitchen appliances don’t. 

Stamp Facilities decided to install a HiSaver smart power strip, which has a motion sensor.  The power strip was placed below a cabinet so that it turns on when a person comes near to use the break room appliances.  If no motion is detected for ten minutes, the power strip turns off automatically.  The clever solution avoids “rely[ing] on someone to turn a power strip on and off between uses,” says Wray, while still allowing staff to easily prepare food on breaks and reduce their energy consumption.

Dan Wray, GO Rep, Stamp Student Union - Facilities

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

FEBRUARY 13, 2013: My husband, Bill, rarely uses anything as intended and tends to see gold where others see a pile of junk.   For example, we were once driving back from the store when Bill saw a broken, abandoned bicycle.  The wheels were bent, and the tires were missing.  He stopped and put it in the trunk.  I asked him what he was going to do with it, and he replied, “I have something in mind.”   A few days later he came home with a five-foot section of construction tubing.  Again I asked what he was going to do with it, and again he replied, “I have something in mind.”  When he brought home a busted weight set and two feet of iron pipe, I didn’t even ask why.  After diligently working in the garage for a few days, he ordered mirrors.  Next thing I knew, we were the proud owners of an 8” Newtonian telescope.

Bill hates those handwritten plastic “We buy houses”signs stapled to telephone poles.   We learned that the signs were illegally posted, but the County didn’t have the personnel to control them.  So every morning Bill removed the signs.  Before we knew it, we had a large stack of them.  We couldn’t stand the thought of all that plastic ending up in a landfill, so we began using the opposite sides of the signs to announce community events and gave some away for non-profit organizations to reuse.  Yet, we still had a large stack of them!  One day I returned from work to find that Bill built a wind generator (1/8” scale) out of a dozen signs, a few ball bearings and strips of leftover wood.  It didn’t generate much energy, but it worked and was a great conversation piece.

Soon after we had a new shed built, Bill noticed a leftover piece of plywood and a drop cloth.  He and our son Ronnie, who was 14 at the time, began a new project.  They cut the wood to make a frame and stretched the drop cloth around it.  After applying some fiberglass to make it waterproof, we had a one-person boat.   Not the prettiest boat I’ve ever seen, but we sure enjoyed it.

These are just a few of the projects that began with discarded items.  I think they coined the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” because of husband.  Maybe you know someone like him, or maybe that describes you.   Next time you are throwing something away, stop for a moment and try to envision what it could become.   Let your creativity flow and have fun!

Marty Newman, GO Rep, Department of Procurement and Supply

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Department of Environmental Safety Reuses and Upcycles Paper into Holiday Decorations

JANUARY 30, 2013: When a Sustainability Intern in the Department of Environmental Safety made homemade bows from magazines to decorate for a coworker’s baby shower, Hallie Heaney saw an opportunity to “show people that recycled items can be unique, eye-catching and useful.”

To encourage creative reuse and upcycling (turning old materials into a new product), the office held a bow-making workshop around the holidays.  Encouraging creative reuse and recycling of materials incorporated the green message into the festive season.  Flyers were posted around the department, each with its own bow.  The event had holiday music, snacks, and cider to draw people in, and Heaney said she was “amazed at the turnout: people attended who we would not have expected to come, and one even brought along rolls of wrapping paper to cut up and make into bows.”

The event was a great success.  DES staff enjoyed learning how to make the bows and many expressed “enthusiastic thanks” for hosting the occasion.  Heaney said that she and the other event organizers had people who already knew how to make the bows; these more experienced crafters were able to teach and help their colleagues who were new to the activity.  She also noted the importance of having prepared supplies (in this case, pre-cut paper strips, brads, and hole punchers).

The bow-making event has inspired Heaney to host more Green Office events, such as a lunchtime screening of the film Bag It.  She said, “The event was a great success, with all seats filled and smiles all around.   I’m hopeful that events such as this one will help convince the late adopters that sustainability can be incorporated painlessly and can in fact be fun and rewarding!”

Hallie Heaney, GO Rep, Department of Environmental Safety

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Capital Projects Partners with Public Health Garden Student Group

JANUARY 16, 2013: The employees at Capital Projects are attempting to reduce their food waste by going high tech with the ancient art of composting. They have been hoping for some time that the composting efforts of the University would one day include smaller departmental kitchens in addition to dining and residence halls. With about 50 plus users of the department’s kitchen in the basement of the Service Building, there is a fair amount of food waste, including coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable leavings, etc. However, there is not enough volume to justify a University sponsored composting collection container at the site.

Instead, the department purchased a self-contained electric powered composter and installed it in the kitchen (www.naturemill.com). The unit heats the food scraps to speed up the composting process. There is also a carbon filter to help keep down any smells. Before purchasing the unit, the student group managing the Public Health Garden was approached to see if they would be interested in using the finished product. They were very enthusiastic about the idea, and have since received permission to compost material using their on-site garden waste.

Currently, the hope is to produce about 2-3 gallons of compost per week. According to the composting manual, one tray provides enough compost to cover 10-40 square feet of garden space, 4 times per year. If the implementation is successful, other departments may be willing to participate by purchasing a composting unit as well, spreading smart and efficient sustainability measures across the University of Maryland campus.

Martha Shrader, GO Rep, Capital Projects

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Green Office Program Celebrates One Year

JULY 11, 2012: GO Reps proudly celebrated the one year anniversary of the Green Office Program with a sustainable breakfast and sharing event. With close to 80 participating offices, the Green Office Program has grown to become the campus standard for office sustainability.

The theme of the event was sustainable practices and actions. The breakfast featured local and healthy foods served in reusable platters and bowls. All of the cutlery and plates were compostable, and the GO Reps brought their own reusable mugs for fresh brewed coffee and tea. Everyone brought books that they no longer wanted, in order to participate in a book exchange.

Books weren’t the only items that were exchanged among the GO reps. The Green Office Representatives were given the opportunity to exchange inspiring success stories as well as challenges that arose when implementing the program. This open dialogue created a true sense of community and support. Additionally, the GO Reps were excited to pick-up the new Silver checklist.

The breakfast celebrated those individuals who are leading the way in their office. Thank you GO Reps!

Atara Bernstein, Intern, Office of Sustainability

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu

 

 


Office "Go Green" for Parties and Events

FEBRUARY 23, 2012: Pine tree branches and holly decorated napkins weren’t the only green things at the Counseling Center (CC) this past December.  By implementing a few simple actions, such as composting and planning ahead, the CC turned their regular holiday party into an environmentally-friendly bash. They are currently working towards Bronze-level certification in the Green Office program and wanted to expand their sustainable actions to cover more than just the average work day.

Alice Mitchell, Psychometrist at the CC, says that they are hoping their “informal pilot becomes the basis for a broad campus approach to sustainable non-catered events.” With the help of Dining Services Director Colleen Wright-Riva and by using their Green Office Program training and knowledge, the CC was able to take those skills and use them for a creative and fun event.

As a pilot effort, Dining Services provided compostable plates, napkins, and utensils for the celebration as well as composting services once the used materials were returned to Dining Services. Party guests were efficiently guided in a “what goes where exercise,” according to Mitchell. They composted napkins and recycled containers and aluminum serving trays. Mitchell was proud of the results, having produced one very full bag of compostables, one-half bag of trash, and one bag of recyclables.   

The CC learned a lot from their green celebration. Mitchell referred to the unexpected use of tree branch decorations for the party, which were relevant to the holiday theme as well as compostable. She hopes to “plan ahead next time for compostable decorations. This was definitely the way to go,” said Mitchell, with agreeing nods from CC Sustainability Committee members Kimberly Bethea, Noah Collins, Cassy Lytle, and Francy Stillwell.

There were some lessons learned along the way- Mitchell states that the printed paper plates and plastic tablecloths contributed by CC staff weren’t recyclable and needed to be thrown away. She made a mental note that the plastic tablecloths can be replaced with reusable or paper ones in the future.

Overall, the CC implemented their knowledge of the Green Office Program in an easy and efficient way.  Any office can implement and host a green event, whether they are part of the Green Office Program or not. If everyone makes small changes, such as minimizing environmental impact at office events, the cumulative impact on our campus can be substantial. 

Andrea Doukakis, Intern, Office of Sustainability

For more information on the program, visit www.greenoffice.umd.edu