Eco-evaluation program introduced
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Saturday, September 8, 2012 02:09
The Office of Sustainability (OOS) in April launched the Green Office Certification program across all three Tufts campuses, which encourages university departments to evaluate their conservation actions and identify areas for improvement.
An online survey, which is available on the OOS website, allows each university office to gauge its progress in implementing sustainable practices. Departments can receive a bronze, silver, gold or platinum certificate depending on how highly the office scores on the survey.
“The Green Office Certification program is essentially a program that was designed for faculty and staff to use to give themselves an idea of where they stand in terms of sustainability, but also to give them a place to work from,” senior Dani Jenkins, an intern at the OOS, said.
The survey consists of about 50 questions that assess an office’s commitment to sustainability, according to Jenkins. Point values are assigned to the questions, which address a variety of topics such as energy usage, waste and recycling.
The OOS then contacts the faculty or staff member who filled out the survey for a follow-up meeting to review the survey results and to offer suggestions for improvement, OOS Program Director Tina Woolston said.
Five offices out of the 21 that have submitted surveys were successful enough to earn a bronze, silver or gold certificate by scoring 60 percent or higher, Jenkins said.
The platinum level, requiring at least 95 percent completion of the sustainable practices listed on the survey, has yet to be achieved at Tufts, according to Woolston.
“We made it so that there would still be something for people to work towards,” she said.
A comprehensive step-by-step guide for improving scores was added to the OOS website for staff who want to improve their office’s conservation efforts but do not have the time to participate in Eco-Ambassadors, a program in which staff members volunteer to lead the sustainability efforts within their departments, Woolston explained.
At the annual OOS Environmental Action Luncheon in early May, the Tisch Library was awarded gold level certification, she said.
The Department of Environmental and Population Health at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the Ginn Library of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Tufts Renewable Energy and Applied Photonics Labs received bronze certification awards framed in recycled circuit board at the ceremony, Woolston added.
“I was surprised that people were really excited [to receive a certificate],” Woolston said. “They just loved it, and it seemed to inspire some other offices to action.”
The Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at the Fletcher School recently received a silver award, according to Woolston.
Jenkins noted that many faculty and staff members have taken interest in boosting their office’s survey scores.
The Tisch Library is aiming for platinum level certification within the next year, according to Library Assistant Carol Ellis, a Tisch Sustainability Team member.
Tangy Person, dental practice administrator at the School of Dental Medicine, hopes to further educate her colleagues about sustainability after her office scored 45 percent on the survey.
“I think a lot of people weren’t recycling because they weren’t aware of it, and I think that should make a big difference,” Person said. “I’d like to be at least 60 percent by the next time [I complete the survey].”
The OOS is working on expanding the Green Office Certification program in order to increase student involvement in sustainability efforts on campus, Woolston said.
“One of the things I would love to do is to have some students volunteer with offices to get [the offices] green office certified,” she said.
Woolston said the OOS is also considering hosting an environmental lunch-and-learn on how departments can attain Green Office Certification.
“It’d be great to see an office get platinum,” she said.