University of Illinois offices are decked out in the iconic orange and blue to kick off the new semester. In the midst of 2020 Campus Sustainability Month festivities, a few are adding green to the color palette.
iSEE designed the Certified Green Office Program (CGOP) to give employees the opportunity to set an example for students and practice environmental stewardship at work. Simple, inexpensive actions spanning from carpooling with coworkers to recycling ink cartridges and batteries can be adopted to increase sustainability.
Within this last year, the Campus Green Office Program has been revamped and is now in full swing for the 2020 fall semester. New actions have been added, such as a composting/food waste diversion program.
Since 2015, more than 50 offices have been certified as bronze, silver, or gold; for many it’s just the beginning of their sustainability journey.
The Department of Chemistry Administrative Office, located in Noyes Laboratory (pictured above), certified silver in 2019 and is now the first office to reach gold certification in 2020. Gold certification is accomplished when an office commits to 16 or more sustainability actions — which the Department of Chemistry Administrative Office blew out of the water by committing to a total of 35.
To raise the bar from silver to gold, the chemistry administrative staff were inspired to take on sustainability actions of large and small proportions. The department’s recent renovations created plenty of opportunities for sustainability advancements. Smaller actions included reusing and repurposing old office furniture as opposed to buying new pieces.
“In fact, my ‘desk’ is actually two tables put together with two filing cabinets underneath for storage. … Some of the other offices in the Chemistry Administrative Office were also outfitted with desks from the surplus,” said Lisa Williamson, Sustainability Ambassador for the Chemistry Administrative Office.
The renovation also sparked larger steps, such as adding new features like occupancy sensors to control lights and thermostats, and airtight insulated windows.
“The steps we’ve taken to earn gold-certified status seem small but can have larger impacts on environmental and financial sustainability when paired with other units’ similar efforts,” said Jenny Cox, Associate Director for Administration.
Even if you are working remotely, there are ways to green-certify your office safely and effectively! In consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic, iSEE now conducts all communications with offices via email, no longer requires office visits, and recognizes certified offices at virtual events.
Visit our iSEE Certified Green Office Program page to learn more and get certified!
— Story and photos by iSEE Communications Intern Samantha Roberson