Green teams taking root on campus

Green teams — groups of employees who volunteer to help identify and implement specific sustainable practices in their departments — are flourishing around campus.

Departments select a green team “captain” to evaluate the current level of sustainable practices in their offices and make suggestions for ways to improve. Ideas might include simple changes such as purchasing copy paper with recycled content or making available reusable mugs and utensils rather than using disposable ones. Or, changes may be more impactful, like eliminating mini-fridges in individual offices.

“Sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all concept,” says Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, director of sustainability. Each department on campus has different needs. “Organizations tend to be more willing to embrace community-wide goals when they have had a hand in creating the plans to implement them. In using this kind of community-based approach, people often come up with ideas that are bolder than those suggested by the organization—such as having only one trash can per department as a way to encourage waste reduction and recycling.”

Green team captains will meet quarterly for peer-to-peer education and workshops. Recognition for departments with innovative sustainability practices is planned. Student interns are available as consultants to work with departments and help answer questions or make presentations.

“Holistic campus-wide collaboration can really make a difference,” said green team captain Kris Frantz, assistant to the vice president in the Office of Investments, who works in Reynolda Hall. “But, we must be willing to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses with an open mind to allow us to intertwine sustainability practices with our everyday routines.”

— by Kim McGrath, Office of Communications and External Relations