In February I volunteered to be UTA Libraries’ “Environmental Steward” in the UTA Green Office Program. This program goes beyond the typical environmental initiatives that many individuals, offices and departments at UT Arlington already support. This program takes a coordinated, long-term and campus-wide approach, providing resources, helpful guidelines and on-going consultation as needed. It also provides recognition to outstanding Green Offices on campus. I felt that this was a great opportunity to serve on a campus-wide committee while working on something meaningful to me and that I was passionate about.
I began my Green Office Stewardship by reaching out to each department in the library. I’m relatively new at UTA Libraries and I was unsure of which initiatives had already been tried and which were already being practiced. I wanted every department to have a say in which initiatives to pursue, and having a team would help fill my knowledge gaps. This ultimately led to the formation of a committee where each department in the Libraries was represented by one of its members.
Next I created a ranked-choice polling system whereby each department representative submitted a ranked-choice ballot indicating which initiatives were best for their department, in order of their preference. Before our first meeting, the ballots were tabulated and a final ranked order of initiatives was generated with the most popular/preferred near the top and the less popular toward the bottom.
On Friday, June 3, UTA Libraries Green Office Program Committee met to review the ranked list, and to discuss and select the initiatives that we would work on as an organization to achieve Green Office status. To qualify, the Libraries needed to select realistic initiatives that we, as an organization, would be able to complete. Implementing 5 initiatives qualifies us at the Bronze level, 10 initiatives qualifies us at the Silver level, 15 initiatives qualifies us at the Gold level, and to qualify at the Platinum level requires Gold status plus the 3 Platinum initiatives.
We began our meeting by looking at the ranked list of initiatives and figuring out which ones we were already doing. We discovered that six of the 21 items we’re already doing, which means we automatically qualify for bronze level status in the program. This is the list of things we are already doing, with their rank in the list:
1. Have desk recycle paper bin in each office.
2. Have large paper recycle bin placed in office suite.
4. Participate in UTA E-Waste Program (includes toners, batteries, computer peripherals, etc.).
6. Primarily utilize central printing instead of single office printers
9. Have can/bottle recycle bin placed in office suite.
12. Plug PCs into a dedicated power strip to remain on (turn PCs off), all other electronics in separate power strips to be turned off when not in use, or utilize Conserve Energy surge protectors.
Next, we looked at the top five remaining items in the list and decided to focus on those over the next year. Committing to these qualifies us for Silver level status in the program. An additional item, number 19 in the list, was also selected since it would seem silly to do all this work toward Silver level status and not formally communicate our efforts to our stakeholders. Here are those initiatives, along with their rank in the list:
3. Encourage personnel to turn off all lights when they leave their office and at the end of the day. Post sticker on all light switches.
5. Reduce Paper Consumption.
7. Utilize plants in offices to reduce air pollution, raise humidity, and deaden noise (min. one per occupied office).
8. Reduce Office Supply Consumption.
10. Use 30% post consumer content paper on external documents and 100% post consumer content paper on internal documents.
19. Formally notify all faculty, staff & students of department’s sustainability policies & procedures.
Over the coming weeks and months, expect to hear more about these initiatives as we launch a communication program around them. Committee members will be reaching out to help with things like identifying easy-care plants, identifying hidden light switches, and placing scrap paper bins near printers, among other things. In one year we plan to review our progress and at that time we may decide to select a few more initiatives to push us to the Gold or Platinum status.