In the fall of 2014, the Office of Sustainability initiated a new way to get U of S staff involved in sustainability. Work Green started as a modest group of less than 10 employees from around campus who, through a common passion for sustainability, wished to start transforming their workplaces into green spaces. Today, a little more than a year later, Work Green boasts 40 staff members from around the university who represent their divisions as sustainability champions trying to improve the U of S’ operations from within.
As an initiative, Work Green is a network of campus workplaces committed to improving the sustainability of their day-to-day operations. Led by a “champion” in their workplace, colleagues collaborate to adopt new, greener practices that reduce the use of resources like energy and water, minimize waste, and consider the most sustainable options for purchases and commuting. The workplace is recognized for their leadership with certification as a member, bronze, silver, or gold participant. Workplaces can be as small as two individuals or as large as 20 or more, in which case they can be broken into smaller divisions to better reflect the different needs within departments.
To support Champions in their goals, the Office of Sustainability provides newsletter, resources, and educational opportunities to share with their colleagues. Quarterly network meetings of Work Green Champions are held to share challenges and successes while identifying what additional resources would help support their work. The Office even keeps a budget for workplace grants that help Champions purchase the tools they need to bring sustainability to their offices.
As we look back on the past year, we’re incredibly happy with the growth and spread of Work Green. We have members throughout many divisions of campus including Facilities Management, Financial Services, Consumer Services, and even the President’s Office. Academic groups are also beginning to join the group, including longstanding members from the School of Environment and Sustainability and newer members like the College of Education. Even off-campus groups can join, such as the Prince Albert Centre for Continuing and Distance Education campus.
These groups have used the resources available to them to improve operations at their workplace and to contribute new resources back to the group. From campaigns to reduce elevator usage to purchasing reusable dishware for shared lunchrooms, the Champions continue to come up with new and unique solutions to sustainability issues across campus.
In the future we hope to see Work Green continue to grow and spread across campus, extending its resources and lessons to every workplace at the university. If you want to bring your workplace into the sustainability conversation, contact email@example.com to nominate a Work Green Champion for your office.