More Duke Offices Greening Up The Workplace

Nineteen campus locations earn 'Green Workplace Certification'

Lisa Moore, accounting specialist with Chapel Services, empties a bag of compostable material into a composting bucket. The bucket is shared among Duke community members who use a shared kitchen at the Chapel. Photo by Bryan Roth.

In Lisa Moore's office, she and other staff members in Chapel Services always try to print on both sides of paper. They even compost used coffee grounds and flowers.

They're taking sustainability to the next level, and their efforts earned them a "Green Workplace Certification."

"All of us are excited about being a part of the university's sustainability effort because it's another way Chapel staff can be faithful stewards of God's creation," said Moore, accounting specialist with Chapel Services. "It's been a great experience for me. It even inspired me to take the bus and eat less meat."

Duke currently features 19 locations that have earned a Green Workplace Certification through Sustainable Duke since the certification process started in spring 2011. Since the beginning of this year alone, nine offices or departments have earned the certification.

The recognition is part of a program to help employees reduce the environmental footprint of their workplace through training and resources to make Duke more sustainable. It's part of helping Duke work toward its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2024, said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke.

"The Green Workplace Certification provides a framework and resources for staff to become leaders for sustainability and an opportunity to earn recognition for their sustainable actions," Roe said. "Employees come to our workshop with great ideas for making Duke more sustainable and leave as creative leaders for sustainability on campus."

To earn a certification, an employee from an office or department must attend a Leading for Environmental Sustainability Workshop and complete at least 40 of 57 items from a checklist of actions like adjusting computer settings, purchasing ENERGY STAR certified appliances and recycling paper, plastics, metals, glass and cardboard. Certified offices receive a sticker for display in the workplace, as well as recognition on Sustainable Duke's website and in the sustainability e-newsletter.

In the Office of Information Technology at the American Tobacco Campus, Isabel Taylor is looking to follow in the footsteps of other Duke employees. Along with some coworkers, she's starting the process of working toward a Green Workplace Certification.

A project manager with OIT, Taylor said there's no set timeframe to earn the recognition but hopes to get started in coming weeks.

Want To Earn A Green Workplace Certification?

Faculty and staff can start the process of earning a Green Workplace Certification by attending a Leading for Environmental Sustainability Workshop. Workshops are offered through Learning and Organization Development and run from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 16 and Nov. 12.

Along with interested staff in her office, she wants to raise awareness about small actions that add up, like using a mug for water or coffee instead of Styrofoam cups that are thrown into the trash. She said the department will also focus on buying more sustainable break room supplies, increase the number of recycling bins, improve signage around the office and use OIT's internal newsletter to get the word out.

"Sustainability is such an important issue for the health of our planet and future," said Taylor, who attended a sustainability workshop in January. "I think the tide is starting to turn and it's gaining lots of interest. We want to start small because this isn't about a making obligations or time commitments, it's about making a commitment to do the right thing for all of us and the environment."