The Green Office Certification Program is a tool for departments or divisions to use to improve sustainable practices and to keep with the College's Sustainability Core Value.
Why a green office program?
Small actions taken by departments translate into big positive impacts. For example, Lane does two times more printing per employee than comparator colleges. If we all work together to reduce our printing and copying, we could annually save 263 trees and 200 tons of carbon emissions and $400,000 in paper and printing costs. The Green Office Certification Program is a fun, easy, and rewarding tool that departments can use to contribute to these larger efforts.
When your department/division receives certification, you win a prize of your choice that will contribute to the comfort, happiness, and sustainability of your office! Prize options will vary, but may include:
- An eco-friendly breakroom kit containing reusable mugs, fair trade organic coffee, soap, and more.
- A gift box of vegetables from the Learning Garden.
- Watt stopper plug strips.
- Battery charging kit.
- Reusable water bottles.
- Triple Green Star Certification recipients will receive a lunch party for your department made from organic, local ingredients!
How can I certify my office?
- Schedule a 15-minute training for your department/division with the Institute for Sustainable Practices by contacting Luis Maggiori at x5884 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Designate a Sustainability Ambassador for your department. The Institute for Sustainable Practices will periodically send updates and announcements via your Ambassador. In addition, your Sustainability Ambassadors will receive training and will periodically provide training and encouragement to your department/division.
- Complete the Green Office Certification form. Departments that practice at least 18 out of the 25 items listed on the form will be awarded the Green Office Certification. Departments that practice at least 22 out of the 25 items will receive the coveted Triple Green Star Certification!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. As a general rule, you should turn off the lights whenever you leave a room. It's just a good habit to develop. Turning off the lights reduces operating costs in two ways: it saves energy and reduces the number of lamp replacements.
Yes. Although there is a small energy surge when a computer starts up, this small amount of energy is still less than the energy used when a computer is running for modest periods of time.
Sometimes. When we talking about "going paperless," what we often mean is eliminating the paper portion of a process that used to be both an electronic and a paperless process. This type of "going paperless" is usually better because this eliminates the paper that you would have used otherwise. You are still using a computer, which took resources to make. You are also still using the energy to power your computer, but you would have been using that computer and that electricity anyway, so the net savings is the paper.
If you are making a choice between doing a paper process and an electronic process, the answer is more complicated. Electronics use hazardous materials and electricity. Storage of electronic data on the internet uses a lot of electricity and resources. The method of storing electronic data and producing electronics is always changing and requires us to constantly update with new equipment and dispose of the old equipment. Disposal of this equipment can cause human and environmental health issues if not handled very carefully. However, electronics make sharing information with others infinitely easier and they are probably not going away anytime soon. The Institute for Sustainable Practices has not yet found a definitive answer to this question. Please let us know if you are aware of credible analyses on this topic.
When it comes to electric vs. paper for drying your hands, electric is the hands down winner. Electric hand dryers are about 3.5 times cheaper to operate over a 5 year period. Each electric hand dryer uses about 187 kwh/year or $9.38/year in electricity. This equates to about 0.1 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions were also generated when the electric hand dryers were produced, but electric hand dryers last for many years. Paper towels generate greenhouse gas emission when they are produced, when they are delivered from the manufacturer to the distributor, when they are delivered from the distributor to campus, when they are delivered from Lane to the landfill, and finally when they breakdown in the landfill – creating the more powerful greenhouse gas - methane.
Lane selected the hand dryer model that is installed throughout campus because it works quickly and is energy efficient. However, one of the negatives with this model is that it is loud. In response to concerns about the noise level, Lane hired an industrial hygienist to survey the noise from the dryers. The industrial hygienist found the noise level at the electric hand dryers to be between 88 and 94 decibels during the 30 to 45 seconds that the hand dryer is operating. OSHA permits a noise exposure of up to 95 decibels for up to 4 hours per work day. Since a campus user would only be exposed to the hand dryer noise for several minutes per work day, the hand dryer noise is well within the OSHA permissible limit.
According to Energy.gov using a 60 watt incandescent light bulb provides similar lighting levels to a 15 watt compact fluorescent or a 12 watt LED light bulb. By using the fluorescent bulb, you are using 75% less energy and saving about $3.60 per year in electricity per bulb. The LED bulb will save you $3.80 per year and uses 75-80% less electricity. Another benefit to using fluorescent or LED bulbs is that they last a lot longer:
- Incandescent: 1000 hours
- Fluorescent: 10,000 hours
- LED: 25,000 hours.
- How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents.
Bottled water contributes to the estimated 3 million tons of plastic debris floating on the sea surface in the North Pacific. Purchasing bottled water contributes to the production of greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and the depletion of the earth's oil reserves. Bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline. Bottled water costs as much as 10,000 times more than tap water.
Typically, a reusable item is always preferred to a single-use disposable item. Generally, reducing waste by using reusable items instead of disposable items saves landfill space, water, energy, pollution, and greenhouse gasses associated with resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal. A 2006 Waste Prevention study by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality states that using a ceramic mug 1,000 times instead of using 1000 polystyrene cups uses 27% less energy, 75% less in material inputs, and generates 51% less CO2 emissions, 97% less water pollution, and 46% less solid waste.
Typically, a reusable item is always preferred to a single-use disposable item. Generally, reducing waste by using reusable items instead of disposable items saves landfill space, water, energy, pollution, and greenhouse gasses associated with resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal. A 2006 Waste Prevention study by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality states that the manufacture of one set of reusable batteries versus 200 sets of disposable batteries uses 35% less energy, 81 times less water, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 55%.
Resources and Information
- Green Certified Offices
- Power Management Options - Activate power management on your computer.
- ENERGY STAR Products
- Radiant Panel Space Heaters
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) - "Tips for Buying 'Green' with the Government Credit Card"
- Sustainable Facilities Tool Green Products Compilation
- EPEAT – Environmental rating system that helps identify green computers and other electronic equipment
- The Good Guide
- Green Seal
- Sweat-shop free shopping