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Week of April 8, 2013

More offices seek Sustainable Workplace certification

Months after launching a program to transform offices into greener workplaces, the Office of Campus Sustainability is busy providing nearly 40 campus units, including the Office of the President, with eco-friendly recommendations.

Through the Sustainable Workplace program, OCS assists offices in identifying simple adjustments in equipment settings, while educating employees on behavioral changes, to improve energy efficiency and waste reduction in the workplace.

“We are pleased to have the support of university leadership in demonstrating the importance of sustainability in the workplace,” said Anya Dale, sustainability representative with OCS.

Since November, OCS has awarded eight certificates, including three at the platinum level: the Office of Waste Management and Recycling, Office of Public Affairs & Internal Communications and LSA Office of the Dean. Other offices that completed the program include University Human Resources, UMHS Safety Management and Event Services.

Daniel Rife, left, and LSA Dean Terrence McDonald display the Platinum Sustainable Workplace certificate that was awarded to the LSA Office of the Dean. Photo courtesy Office of Campus Sustainability.

Motivated by receiving the highest certification possible for green efforts in the Dean’s Office, LSA Energy Management Engineer Daniel Rife issued a direct challenge to the college’s remaining 70 plus units to complete the program by the end of the year.

“I want to be involved as units go through the process to hear what’s going on in their offices from an energy-management point of view,” Rife said. “My job is to help address the larger obstacles they face in creating more sustainable practices.”

The hands-on approach and outreach to all LSA units marks the largest coordinated effort to address energy management in the college, Rife added.

With a diverse mix of offices participating in the program, OCS has been able to combat common misconceptions affecting office practices.

“Almost everyone we’ve worked with had shared the belief their computers must remain on or in sleep mode to be updated,” Dale said. “We learned most supporting IT units have systems in place to provide system updates at computer shut down, or to remotely reboot computers during non-business hours for updating.”

In some cases, units that have completed the program experience financial gains as a result of removing unneeded equipment and avoiding maintenance and supply costs. Other benefits of the program include more streamlined office processes, increased coordination in supply orders and better understanding of equipment capabilities and settings.

The program is one of many vehicles in the university’s effort to create a culture of sustainability by building awareness and encouraging sustainable behaviors. Sustainable Workplace supports the university’s 2025 sustainability goals and the overall commitment to sustainability, known as Planet Blue.

Dale noted simple behavior changes also could result in big savings for units. She pointed to a statement released in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Energy Data Book, implying that nearly half of all energy consumed in the buildings sector in 2010 was the result of heating, cooling and lighting of office spaces.

For more information on the program, or to become certified, go to www.ocs.umich.edu/sustainable-workplace.html.

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