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

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

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

"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

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

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.