Faculty and staff shoot for gold in Green Office Certifications

Written by Emily Overholt

A growing number of colleges and administrative offices at Boston University have undergone the Green Office Certification program with more set for review in March, officials said.

Sustainability@BU has audited more than 300 offices since March 2011 and more are set for review within the first two weeks of March, said Sustainability Director Dennis Carlberg.

Sustainability released an updated graph showing how many offices each building has certified. Dining Services and Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences made the top of the list with nearly 50 and 40 offices certified, respectively.

Dining Services has 99 to 100 percent of its offices certified, Carlberg said. The Questrom School of Business and the School of Theology have shown notable increases as well. A number of buildings with no bars are in the process of scheduling certifications, Carlberg said. Office spaces within the College of General Studies and the School of Law will begin certification next month, said Sustainability intern Michael Orr. Questrom is expected to continue certifying its remaining offices.

Certification is based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system and involves a similar scoring system. Offices can achieve Green, Silver or Gold certification, Carlberg said.

The certification process requires applicants to answer questions from a scorecard assessing energy consumption, waste minimization and recycling practices. More points are awarded for less waste production, lower watt usage and more recycling. Basic certification starts at 30 points, silver is 40 and gold is 50 and above.

“The purpose of doing the certification process is to answer the question for the individual ‘What can I do?’ because that question comes up all the time,” Carlberg said. “It’s also there to help the university move to a more sustainable place.”

Carlberg said he reviews the scorecards and various methods of reducing consumption at meetings with the office occupants. He asks them how often they use natural lighting, how often they turn off their lights, if they use a power strip and other questions.

Heidi Chase, the CGS liaison for Sustainability, launched a contest among the four academic divisions and the administration to see which stands as the “greenest” group.

“Everyone’s pretty excited, not only as an opportunity to not only learn how they could be greener in their office space, but also to bring back to [Orr] new ideas that they can work on for the next academic year,” Chase said.

Faculty in Rhetoric, Humanities, Social Science and Natural Science, as well as the administration, will compete to determine which division garners the most participation and which one receives the highest levels of certification.

“The competition factor has definitely motivated them to get involved,” Chase said. “Everyone likes to see how good they’re doing, but also see themselves as a division . . . to come together”

Questrom senior Jaime Silverstein, director of Environmental Affairs for Student Union, said she is working to certify the Union office. She contacted facilities to change the lighting in the office and order recycling bins.

“Most people don’t realize the little changes they can make in their office that has significant environmental impact,” Silverstein said in an email interview. “I have actually just reached out to [Sustainability] to help make the Student Union office more environmentally-friendly and they were a lot of help.”

Carlberg said the purpose of certifying offices is to help individuals realize what they can do to help with Sustainability and also to encourage the entire university to become more sustainable.

“We have a long way to go,” Carlberg said. “Nobody’s going to argue with that, but we’re doing a lot. We’re doing stuff, and we’re asking people to do their part. The Green Office Certification is a way to help people do their part.”

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