July 1, 2011

Participants Sought for Green Office Challenge

The Green Office Challenge provides an easy framework
for offices to reduce their environmental impact.

THE GREEN Office Challenge is a friendly competition between the many offices and departments at UIC to become “green from the ground up.”  Administered through the Office of Sustainability, the Green Office Challenge provides an easy framework for offices to reduce their environmental impact in the areas of Energy Management, Office Supplies, Waste Reduction and Recycling, Transportation, Food and Beverages, and Networking & Engagement.

“AS MORE and more emphasis is placed on reducing emissions, cutting waste, and becoming a more environmentally friendly institution, the Green Office Challenge was developed as a way to really strike at the heart of sustainability: human behavior,” said Lauren Smith of the Office of Sustainability. “As UIC invests in green buildings and solar panels, the Green Office Challenge seeks to inspire and assist members of the UIC campus community to work green practices into their everyday lives and to encourage environmental stewardship in all aspects of campus life.”

UIC HAS set ambitious goals in regards to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The University has committed to reducing its emissions by 80% below 2004 levels by 2050. “Every faculty member, staffer, and student has a role to play in this goal, and the purpose of the Green Office Challenge is to help UIC offices incorporate sustainability principles into their operations,” Smith said.

ALL THE information needed to get started is available at www.sustainability.uic.edu/greenoffice.  The steps are as follows:

1.       If your office does not already have an EcoRep, sign up for this program at http://www.uic.edu/sustainability/ecoreps.html.

2.       Then, sign up on the Green Office Challenge webpage to officially register your office.  The Office of Sustainability will then send you your very own Green Office Challenge Checklist.

•             Make sure you have an all-office meeting to discuss the Green Office Challenge and to be sure that everyone in the office is aware of it.

3.       Establish your baseline score.  Simply go through the checklist and see what your office is already doing.  Chances are you probably have several of the initiatives already covered.

4.       Set goals.  Once your baseline score is established, your office should select a few initiatives that it would like to achieve in the next six months.  Every six months, offices will report their progress on the Green Office Challenge and reassess their Green Level.

5.       Get recognized.  The Office of Sustainability will share each office's achievements with the entire UIC community.

THE GREEN Office Challenge hopes to achieve measurable improvements in Energy Management, Waste Reduction, and Recycling, Transportation, and other focus areas of the program. For example, the Office of Sustainability plans to collect data on paper usage and transportation habits, and will be monitoring building energy use data in order to show tangible results.

“BEYOND COLLECTING measurable data, the Office of Sustainability hopes to foster an ongoing conversation about sustainability on campus, and to build a culture of personal responsibility for environmental stewardship at UIC,” Smith said.

"IN AN environment where employees are increasingly concerned about the ‘green’ reputation of their employer, a program like the Green Office Challenge can help to make UIC a more attractive employer.  Beyond that, as waste is reduced and energy is conserved offices on campus could potentially see some real cost savings.”

THE GREEN Office Challenge is recruiting offices from around campus to participate in the pilot program.  This gives the Office of Sustainability the opportunity to get a feel for how the Challenge is rolling out in participating offices, and to make any adjustments. “It will be interesting to see what sustainability initiatives offices already have in place, or which ones tend to get implemented first,” Smith said.

IF YOU would like to learn more about the Green Office Challenge, check out the website http://www.uic.edu/sustainability/greenoffice. Also, keep an eye on the Office of Sustainability Calendar for upcoming Green Office Challenge informational meetings.

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