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Upcoming initiatives promote green, energy-efficient campus offices

By Melanie Aleman | Emory Report | Oct. 1, 2014

An Events Exchange held Tuesday, Sept. 30, provided updates to the Office of Sustainability's (OSI) Sustainable Events Certification Program and launched a six-month Green Office pilot that aims to provide recommended actions for Emory's offices to operate more sustainably.

The Green Office program was created through a collaboration of volunteers representing a variety of departments and units, and complements existing Sustainable Events and Green Labs programs. These collaborative programs provide opportunities to engage the Emory community in achieving the goals and actions called for by Emory's Sustainability Vision in 2006.

The Green Office team is soliciting offices to volunteer to participate in the pilot program from November 2014 to April 2015. Pilot offices will conduct an initial review of the Green Office checklist, spend six months implementing strategic actions in categories such as energy, waste and purchasing, and provide essential feedback on the program before it is launched to the entire Emory community in 2015. The Green Office Team will assist with the implementation, supply feedback and give recognition to participating offices that are helping to make Emory a greener campus.

"The Green Office program is serving dual functions as a resource for offices and departments that are seeking ways to be more sustainable, while also collecting essential information and feedback from Emory's staff in order to provide the best possible support services for sustainability in our administrative spaces," says Kelly O'Day Weisinger, program coordinator in the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

"The program has brought together volunteers with expertise in technology, procurement, waste, energy, event planning and others with innovative ideas to become a group that hopes to influence Emory's sustainable business practices, consumer choices and community behaviors," Weisinger continues.

As 2015 approaches, efforts undertaken in the Green Office Program will contribute to reaching Emory's sustainability goals for energy use reduction, landfill waste diversion, sustainable food procurement and water use reduction.

In conjunction with the Green Office program, October kicks off the annual campus-wide Energy Competition. This competition aims to reduce energy use in Emory buildings with the combined efforts of students, faculty and staff.

"We challenge everyone to do simple things like turning off the lights and appliances when not in use or taking the stairs instead of the elevator," says Emily Cumbie-Drake, sustainability program coordinator, "Our collective efforts can make a big impact on reducing energy use."

The competition challenges building occupants to be conscientious of excessive energy consumption. Three buildings — one in each of the residential, research and administrative/classroom categories — with the greatest reduction in energy use compared to October 2013 will win $1,000 to use towards a sustainability-related prize.