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Leading Sustainability Efforts At Work

Leading Sustainability Efforts At Work

Sustainable Duke offers three-hour class at no charge

Sustainable Duke is offering a course at no charge to help Duke offices become more eco-friendly.

Durham, NC - Soon after attending the "Leading for Environmental Sustainability" workshop, Courtney Stanion led a brainstorming session during a staff meeting to take action on what she had learned.

Within minutes, colleagues agreed to replace an energy-guzzling coffee pot, request weather-stripping on office doors and investigate a programmable office thermostat.

"Once we started thinking about this topic, we had lots of ideas to reduce our office energy use," said Stanion, a safety and health specialist for the Occupational and Environmental Safety Office.

That groundswell of department action is exactly what Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke, envisioned when she created the workshop at Duke for faculty and staff.

"We are trying to make it easy for people interested in sustainability to think about how they can influence others," she said.

Sustainable Duke offers the three-hour class at no charge every three months. The class covers institutional commitments Duke has made to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2024. But it also gives employees the opportunity to share about motivating co-workers to become more environmentally friendly. "Employees are a large part of Duke's carbon footprint," Roe said. "Their actions can make a huge difference."

After completing the class, department representatives are invited to guide their offices through Duke's new Green Workplace Certification process. This process involves reviewing a checklist of 57 items related to sustainability. Actions include energy conservation efforts, purchasing practices, transportation choices, waste reduction, hosting "green" special events and participating in the monthly Green Devil Challenges. The Sustainable Duke Office recognizes units that report routinely following at least 40 of the 57 actions as a "Green Workplace."

Participants in the first two "Leading for Sustainability" workshops helped fine-tune the Green Workplace Certification process, and the Sustainability Office plans to foster a competition at the start of the academic year to encourage more staff to participate.

Kathy Peterson, administrative assistant in the Office of Divisional Deans, Arts & Sciences, participated in the Jan. 28 workshop and left with a goal of completing the certification this summer. She thinks the hardest part may be getting everyone to take responsibility for turning off computers and peripheral devices when they leave the office.

"A lot of people here work late, so we can't just go in and turn things off at the end of the day," she said.

Roe hopes that the class and certification process will help employees like Stanion and Peterson create a network of staff committed to sustainability in the workplace and willing to share ideas, challenges and solutions. 

"It helps to know you aren't doing this on your own," Roe said.

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I think it's wonderful that Duke is offering so many ways for people to be involved in sustainability.

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