Get your workplace certified as a green office

Green Office

Many members of the Penn community are increasing their recycling rate, using less electricity, and running less water to step up their sustainable living at home. A new program from the Green Campus Partnership is encouraging employees to bring that same dedication to the workplace.

Penn's Green Office Certification is a four-tiered program of sustainability initiatives that campus offices can undertake to help the University reach its Climate Action Plan goals for a more sustainable campus and a reduced carbon footprint.

Penn recognizes that campus offices use significant amounts of energy and materials, and produce large amounts of waste. The Green Office program encourages employees to green their everyday work activities by assigning points to environmentally friendly products. Offices can work toward the goal of achieving one of four levels of certification.

More than 250 points can be earned in seven sustainability categories: waste, purchasing, energy, water, indoor air quality and human health, transportation, and involvement. Point values are based on an activity’s impact and level of difficulty to implement. Checklist items include enabling “sleep mode” and “auto-off” on all computers and printers (1 point), hosting a “sustainability 101” presentation at a staff meeting (2 points), and conducting or hiring a consultant to conduct an audit of the office waste stream (4 points). 

Offices can aim for the highest level from the start, or work their way up slowly from Level 1. Each level is geared to continual improvements, with increasing levels of difficulty.

To be certified at Levels 1 and 2, at least 50 percent of the office must pledge participation in green office activity. Levels 3 and 4 require signatures from at least 75 percent of office members. Certified offices receive a framed certificate for display, signed by senior leadership, and will be recognized on the Green Campus Partnership website.

Of the 13 applications made thus far, 12 have been certified. The Annenberg Public Policy Center is in the process of achieving certification at the highest level, Level 4.

To get started, visit the Green Campus Partnership website and download the Green Office Certification Checklist to see which actions might apply to your office. Calculate your scores and determine which certification level your office might target. Check out the “How To Green Your Office” section to identify potential projects and initiatives that can be implemented.

Green Office Certification is valid for two years.

“Of course we hope that offices will get recertified at their present level or be encouraged to go up a level,” says Dan Garofalo, Penn’s environmental sustainability coordinator.

For more information on the Green Office program, or for help in getting started with the certification process, email sustainability@upenn.edu.

Originally published on July 19, 2012