Workplace sustainability has come a long way since the days of a single communal recycling bin, as evident in the results from the Yale Office of Sustainability’s inaugural Green Workplaces Certification Program. The program asked workplaces across the University to submit an application regarding performance in six action areas: transportation and travel, solid waste management, energy, procurement, kitchens and shared areas, and community engagement. Within these categories, workplaces earned points for actions such as carpooling or biking to work, ordering office supplies in bulk to reduce deliveries, and encouraging the adoption of the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
However, it was in the “innovation items” portion of the application where workplaces’ true creativity and commitment to sustainability became clear. For example, the Physics Department, which achieved top scores across the board, put forward a number of creative sustainability schemes including a scrap metal recycle bin in their Machine Shop, a magazine and notebook share program, and a “Green Light Employee” program where they interview one employee each month about their sustainability initiatives. In total, sixteen workplaces – ranging from school-wide efforts at the School of Management to individual offices such as Yale Central Dining Office – received Green Certifications for their efforts.
Sarah Jane Compton, Financial Assistant at the Yale Physics Department commented on the program: “The Office of Sustainability’s Green Workplaces Certification has put into perspective how each department/ school at Yale plays a huge role in reaching the goals set by [President Levin] in the Sustainability Strategic Plan. Everyone needs to be held accountable so we can reach these goals, and we have encouraged other departments in Science Hill to get involved.” This sense of community that the Green Workplaces program provides has been critical to its success.
Workplaces interested in applying to the second round of the Green Workplaces Certification Program should email their workplace’s name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org visit http://sustainability.yale.edu/workplace for a copy of the checklist application. The second round application deadline is March 23, 2011.