Get Your Office Some Green to Go Green

Apply for funding by June 17 to achieve Green Workplace Certification

Emily Schieffer, a senior policy associate in the Nicholas Institute's Ecosystem Services Program, poses with a green Mr. Potato Head. The figure is used by the office as a way to instill sustainable behaviors. Photo courtesy of Erin McKenzie.
Emily Schieffer, a senior policy associate in the Nicholas Institute's Ecosystem Services Program, poses with a green Mr. Potato Head. The figure is used by the office as a way to instill sustainable behaviors. Photo courtesy of Erin McKenzie.

Through June 17, staff and faculty can apply for up to $500 through Duke's Green Grant Fund to purchase sustainable items as part of earning a Green Workplace Certification for their office.

Money can be spent on items like energy-efficient light bulbs, reusable dishes, desk lamps and more. The Green Grand Fund is an annual fund made available to support a wide range of sustainability projects that benefit the Duke and Durham communities.

So far, six offices have received about $3,000 from the Green Grant Fund to buy sustainable office items. Dishes, cutlery and energy efficient lamps have been popular choices. That's helped bring the total number of certified green workplaces to 45.

"Even inexpensive items can make a big difference in sustainability of a workplace," said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke. "A set of dishes doesn't cost that much and can even be bought at a thrift store. It's a small change that means people aren't throwing out disposable products every day."

To apply for Green Grant funding to achieve a Green Workplace Certification, an office must first complete a form requesting financial assistance. Each office can apply for amounts from $50 to $500.

Roe noted the diversity of offices that have received Green Grant Funding, which has included the Thompson Writing Program, Center for Child and Family Policy and the Fetal Diagnostic Clinic.

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions has also received money, which was used to buy six energy efficient floor lamps and desk lamps as well as LED light bulbs for all of them. Staff members even got imaginative with their funding, buying a Mr. Potato Head toy that has been painted green and acts as sustainable motivation for staff.

"The 'Green Potato' is passed along to staff members who forget to do things such as turn off the lights when they leave a room, leave a computer on overnight or fail to recycle," said Erin McKenzie, communications specialist for the Nicholas Institute. "The staff member currently in possession of the Green Potato must identify someone else committing a green blunder to get rid of it. It's one way we're motivating staff not to forget the little things that contribute to the bigger picture."

In addition to receiving money from the Green Grant Fund to obtain a Green Workplace Certification, faculty and staff must also attend a sustainability workshop, a free event that provides faculty and staff with information on:

  • Sustainability efforts at Duke University.
  • Personal changes to reduce environmental footprint at work.
  • Guiding departments through the Duke Green Workplace Certification process.
  • Starting and leading a "green team."
  • Resources provided by Sustainable Duke to assist in office greening.

Visit the Sustainable Duke website to learn more about the Green Grant Fund and Green Workplace Certification.