EcoChampions Crystal Stone, David Havelick, and Erin Beasley are school-wide leaders in greening the office practices at Harvard School of Public Health. By utilizing the Harvard Office for Sustainability’s Green Office Certification Program, Crystal, David, and Erin have improved the workplace practices of their respective departments – Human Resources, Epidemiology, and the Office for Educational Programs – by achieving Leaf 1 Green Office Certification.

The steps to achieve Green Office Certification are clear and measurable and include four levels, ranging from “Leaf One” to “Leaf Four.” To receive certification, an office must submit the appropriate level’s checklist, containing the signatures of at least 75% of office members and including the department head. By signing, members affirm that they reduced office resource use by taking the steps required by that level of certification. Green Office Certification does not require a formal audit by the Office for Sustainability, although certification status is subject to periodic review. When new employees join a Green Office, they are expected to be oriented to expectations for office resource use. As part of its Leaf 1 Green Office Certification, the Epidemiology department started a departmental “welcoming committee,” which is made up of staff members, post-docs, and students.  This committee introduces newcomers to the department (including faculty, researchers, staff, and students) and to its many environmentally-friendly practices, which include community mugs, double-sided printers, clearly identified stair locations, scrap paper bins, recycling and composting, and printer cartridge recycling.

Over 83%, or 74 out of 89 individuals, of the Epidemiology department supports the more sustainable office practices that are required in order to achieve Leaf 1 Green Office Certification. All 14 members of the Human Resources department signed off on the application for Leaf 1 Certification, as did 13 out of 14 members of the Office for Educational Programs. By signing, members of these departments agree to enable power management on their personal computers, utilize “sleep mode” on all office copiers and printers whenever possible, ensure that recycling and composting bins are properly labeled and accessible (as well as to provide these receptacles at all meetings sponsored by the department), set double-sided printing as the default for all personal and office printers, and use reusable rather than disposable mugs (and ask all meeting attendees to bring their own mugs). Additional department-wide efforts include providing online versions of publications rather than print publications, such as Epidemiology’s “EPItome” newsletter. Organized by Erin Beasley, staff from the Office for Educational Programs participated in a 15-minute recycling and composting tour of the cafeteria in order to make sure that everyone was on the same page with regard to all of the recycling and composting options at HSPH. The Human Resources department also incorporated Harvard’s Sustainability Commitments into its New Staff Toolkit, which includes HSPH and Harvard-wide policies.

While Crystal, David, and Erin lead their departments’ respective certification efforts and are the primary contacts for such efforts, they have created effective departmental networks and processes for facilitating lasting, sustainable changes. One effective strategy for this has been to create departmental-level “green teams” that are responsible for identifying issues and delegating responsibilities in order to improve the sustainability of specific departments' office practices. The Epidemiology “green team” is comprised of faculty, staff, and students in order to represent different audiences and different geographic locations within the department. In redesigning the Epidemiology department’s website, the departmental green team pushed for a new section called “Epi Green,” which will include department-specific information about green initiatives both within the department and across the school. In addition, the Epidemiology green team is in the process of constructing a “green corner” in the center of the office in order to highlight current and ongoing green initiatives within the department. This structure helps the Department to accomplish more, to reach more people, and to brainstorm about new ways to make it even more environmentally friendly.