By: Rachel Musetti, General Sustainability Intern, Office of Sustainability Initiatives
Since 2016, almost 100 Emory offices have been certified as Green Offices at Emory. This comprehensive certification program, developed by the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI), provides Emory work spaces with tangible actions, tools and resources to help guide more sustainable daily decision making and choices in the thousands of offices across Emory’s enterprise. Green Offices at Emory addresses energy awareness, sustainable procurement, responsible waste and materials management and education, and provides recognition for offices that participate.
Recognizing that Emory’s sustainability goals rely on the commitment of all employees to choose sustainable behaviors while at work, in 2015, Milner – one of Emory’s preferred office suppliers and a small, Georgia business – committed to annual financial support of the Green Offices at Emory program. The first few years of funds allowed for fourteen offices to participate in the initial pilot phase of the program, and each subsequent year has supported the Green Offices Incentives Fund. The Fund – which relies completely on Milner’s donations – provides small grants to unique projects proposed by participating offices. This Fall, Milner generously agreed to another 5 years of funding.
Over the last five years, Emory’s Green Office Incentives Fund has been able to support an impressive variety of projects totaling over $42,000 in grant funding. These projects are proposed and implemented by the office grantees and have included the implementation of over ten hydration stations across campus, installation of motion-sensor lighting in the Cannon Chapel and the deployment of barcode ticket scanners and print-at-home/e-ticketing capabilities for all performances at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in order to eliminate thermal printed tickets that are not recyclable.
Alison Agnew, now the Executive Administrative Assistant in the Office of the Secretary, was a repeat applicant and recipient of funding during her previous role in the Office of Alumni and Constituent Engagement (OACE). “In addition to housing OACE with 35+ full-time staff members, the Miller-Ward Alumni House serves as a conference, meeting and event facility for students, alumni, faculty, staff and other members of the Emory community. In response to requests of colleagues, fellow staff members and guests, and in order to comply with the Green Office best practice of providing tap water for filling reusable bottles and pitchers, we applied for and received two Green Office grants to have hydration stations installed. Our department would not have been able to fund these without the generosity of the Office of Sustainability. The presence of the hydration stations has raised awareness and promoted sustainability – we now offer guests glasses or pitchers of chilled water rather than disposable bottles; physical health – we’re drinking more water since it’s so easy to fill the reusable containers we all keep on hand these days; and mental health – the hydration station is the new water cooler, where people gather to chat and catch up.”
With this exciting corporate partnership, Milner and Green Offices At Emory are able to continue to provide resources for offices to offset the additional cost that more sustainable procurement practices sometimes require and to allow room for offices to be innovative in their techniques for becoming more sustainable work environments.