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The Library is Green Office certified

Green OfficeNorthwestern University is committed to being a national leader in sustainability and Green Office Certification helps faculty and staff identify simple opportunities that align with this goal. Green Office helps decrease a department’s or office’s environmental impact by offering guidance on energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and increasing environmental awareness in the workplace.

Green Office isn’t asking the NU community members to drastically change their work lives, but rather asking them to assess existing practices in their workplace and identify opportunities to save time, energy, and environmental resources. “It’s as simple as making sure you’re procuring recycled content paper and minimizing printing or having a pitcher of water and reusable cups at meetings instead of offering bottled water. Small changes that can add up to significant reductions in our environmental impact.” stated Director of Sustainability, Rob Whittier. 

After a department or office applies for Green Office Certification, an all-staff meeting is held and a discussion is led by the Office of Sustainability to present the opportunities Green Office has to offer within seven categories. These include conserving energy, reducing waste, saving water, traveling responsibly, purchasing consciously, hosting meetings and events, and communicating and engaging a department or office. Each of the seven categories requires a leader. Green Office Certification requires 75 percent of an office or department to agree to participate in the program by attending the kick-off presentation and signing on to support Green Office.

The Library was fortunate in that they already had a group of invested staff members on their Library Environmental Committee (LEC). The LEC meets monthly and has been developing and organizing programs to lower the Library’s environmental impact for the past five years. It also helped that Dean Sarah Pritchard kicked off the introductory meeting with her full support. “After the Office of Sustainability introduced Green Office Certification to our department, the LEC split the library into 20 groups, based on location and divisions, and had category leaders to work through the seven categories within each group. That was probably the hardest part, making sure every staff member knew which group they belonged in. It was easy implementing the opportunities,” stated LEC leader and Library Program Assistant, Sue Oldenburg.

“I am proud of the staff members who stepped up to make Green Office Certification a success in the Library, and we’re excited to help other offices and departments follow the Library’s footsteps to make NU a cleaner, greener campus,” stated Dean of Libraries, Sarah Pritchard.

Several groups on campus have expressed interest in taking on Green Office and many of them are already in the certification process. These departments and offices include Purchasing Resource Services, IT and Academic Research Technologies, IT Information Security Systems and Compliance, Alumni Relations and Development, Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, School of Professional Studies, Kellogg School of Management Executive MBA Program, Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Chicago Health IT Regional Extension Center, and Facilities Management.