Offices choose to adopt sustainability intiatives

Some of the offices at the University of Miami will be run a little bit greener thanks to the start of the Green Office Certification Program by GreenU.

GreenU is a group that works to make UM more ecologically sustainable and teaches the community about sustainability.

The program challenges offices around campus to become more ecologically conscious by following a voluntary checklist of recommendations for a greener workplace. The program was officially launched this October.

University Sustainability Manager Teddy Lhoutellier initiated and runs the program, with involvement from students, facilities, the Departments of Health and Safety and Finance and Treasury, among others.

“Everyone is involved because everyone has a role to play in sustainability,” Lhoutellier said. “Hopefully, the program has a multiplier effect. That’s my goal.”

Participation begins when an office expresses interest in applying. From there, an office employee is dubbed the Green Office Leader to assist with the application and adherence to the green checklist throughout the program, which includes recommendations for the office’s sustainability.

The Butler Center is the first organization from Student Life to participate. Leadership Coordinator Randall Seenandan acts as the Green Office Leader and hopes to spread the program throughout the Student Activities Center.

“The Butler Center is a very visual office,” Seenandan said. “So if we make the push for it, then eventually it could catch on with everyone else.”

The Green Office Leader enrolls in the Sustainability 101 Workshop, which features real-life solutions for creating a greener workplace. Enrollees who also work as employees of the university can earn two Professional Development credits for the course. Through the workshop, all participants train in areas like recycling, water conservation and green outreach.

“Outreach is a big one,” said Lhoutellier. “This isn’t only about saving energy. It’s really about being more aware of the impact we have, and building that sustainability mentality on campus.”

Leaders incorporate training from the workshop into a 30-minute presentation on sustainability to their office. Once 75 percent of office staff members sign a pledge to become greener after watching the presentation – alongside the signature of the office director – the checklist can begin.

The checklist gives green recommendations for sustainability in the areas of energy, transportation, outreach, water, waste and recycling, purchasing of office materials and printing. It includes green tips like using soy ink when possible and checking Surplus Property and Storage before buying new materials. Surplus takes things from the university like computers, furniture and appliances and sells it for below-market prices, available for purchase by students, staff and the public.

“We try to sell it to a user, rather than someone who will put it in a landfill,” said Alberto Ramon, Manager of Surplus Property and Storage.

Once the list is complete, Lhoutellier conducts a final audit of the office. This verifies that the office completed the checklist to the best of its ability. For its successful completion of the program, the office is then granted two rewards: a party sponsored by Staples and an official certification for running a green office.

There is no time limit to completing the list and becoming green certified. Seenandan said he hopes the Butler Center will not only finish by February, but become the first-ever office to finish.

“It’s all self-initiative,” said Seenandan. “If you want to do it, you can do it.”

All university offices are eligible for the program. Interested offices can find the Green Office Certification Program application on the GreenU website or email for more information.