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New programs launched to advance sustainability in offices, labs

Emory Report | March 10, 2016

The new year marked the launch of the Green Labs at Emory and Green Offices at Emory programs throughout Emory University and Emory Healthcare. These voluntary programs are designed to advance sustainability in Emory’s research and teaching laboratories and work spaces.

Development of the Green Labs and Green Offices programs began in 2013 by a collaborative team represented by Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI), Environmental Health and Safety Office, Campus Services, Procurement, and administrative representatives of other key stakeholder departments across Emory.

The Green Labs Pilot Program launched in March 2014 with 14 laboratories participating, while the Green Offices Pilot Program launched in November 2013 with 12 participating offices. 

“We first piloted the programs with a small group of labs and offices, who provided critical feedback that we incorporated into today’s enhanced final versions of each program,” says Kelly O’Day Weisinger, sustainability programs coordinator.

“Labs and offices are hubs of innovation at Emory and can significantly reduce Emory’s impact on sustainability metrics such as energy use, water use, landfill diversion and procurement," Weisinger explains. "These programs provide not only resources for those looking to operate in a more sustainable manner, but a community of like-minded individuals that can share solutions and best practices.”

The two voluntary programs provide a checklist of actions in areas of energy use reduction, water conservation, landfill waste diversion, sustainable procurement and chemical use, and engagement in Emory’s sustainability initiatives. The Green Office Program has an additional focus on sustainable events, creating a safe and healthy work environment, and the cultivation of an office sustainability culture.

The checklists are paired with guidance documents detailing steps to achieving each item at Emory and the research that explains the significance to office or lab sustainability.

Two of Emory’s top suppliers committed funding to provide grants to certified Green Offices and Green Labs to spur innovations in sustainability. The Green Lab Incentives Fund application process will occur each year in January, and recently concluded for 2016.

The Green Office Incentives Fund applications are now available and are due on April 4. All faculty, staff and students from the Emory University and Emory Healthcare work spaces are eligible to apply for the funds.

Certification for sustainable events

Green Offices at Emory and Green Labs at Emory complement the existing Sustainable Events program, creating a suite of sustainability certifications for the Emory community.

Each year, OSI works with event planners to certify major events like Commencement and Orientation under the Sustainable Events program, and encourages event planners across the University and Healthcare to use the program as a guide for hosting sustainable events at Emory. The complete Sustainable Events checklist and certification process is conducted online, and each year a raffle awards two Gold-level event planners with a gift certificate for Emory Catering.

“There are so many events at Emory — and groups concerned with sustainability — that we wanted to help them plan greener events and be recognized for their efforts,” says Ciannat Howett, director of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives. “Since the start of this initiative in 2010, we’ve certified more than 230 events and counting!”

For more information on the Green Labs at Emory, Green Offices at Emory, and Sustainable Events,  click through to the web pages or email greenlabs@emory.edu, greenoffices@emory.edu and/or emorysustainability@emory.edu.