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Alumni Relations and Development

Alumni Relations and Development became officially Green Office certified on Earth Day, 2015. As one of the first groups on campus to participate in the Green Office program, they inspired more offices and departments to pursue Green Office Certification. They demonstrated how participating in this program can motivate staff to reduce waste and conserve energy and water in the workplace.

Alumni Relations and Development has 252 employees and is the second largest department to be certified after University Libraries. Naturally, with such a large department, the certification process had some challenges. According to Brad Wilson, manager of IT and facilities for Alumni Relations and Development, easy to recruit Green Team leaders, but it was more challenging to achieve broad participation across the entire department. “We didn’t want to distract from other initiatives,” said Wilson.

The Green Team members found that some Green Office practices were easier to implement. They placed helpful signage around the office to provide simple tips and keep the office on track. Email templates were also used to share Green Office information with coworkers.

In addition to increasing awareness of sustainable behavior, the Green Office Certification program also brings the department together. The Alumni Relations and Development Green Team is made up of coworkers from several different groups. Leaders who were great at design worked with leaders who were managerial experts, and it all made for better, more effective teams. There were always new faces at the office training sessions, and the Green Office efforts provided a common goal for people to discuss.

Wilson was surprised and thrilled to see how small changes can lead to a larger impact. “Changing the impacts of 200 to 300 people can start with just two people,” he said.

The department-wide changes didn’t stop when Alumni Relations and Development was Green Office Certified. They are in the process of developing a program to make five office-owned bicycles available to staff member and they are expanding the availability of reusable silverware and flatware in the office. In addition, the department recently offered a sustainability tour of the Evanston campus to donors and the team is researching environmentally responsible ink and paper alternatives for alumni paper mailings.

“Green Office Certification is more of a marathon than a sprint,” Brad Wilson adds. But overall, Alumni Relations and Development feels great about doing their part to make Northwestern a more sustainable and healthy place to work.