GVSU to recognize sustainable practices

GVSU to recognize sustainable practices

Molly Waite

Often, offices and other workplaces put little consideration into sustainability, using an “easy button” without considering how office practices and technology affect the environment. At Grand Valley State University, however, not only are green office practices being utilized, but they will be recognized as an achievement.

The Sustainability Office Awards started last year as an idea in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, said Steve Glass, associate dean of Brooks College and professor of movement sciences.

“We had been working in the Brooks College Deans Office on ways to become more sustainable in our practices,” Glass said. “I was able to identify a number of efficiencies as a way to try and promote sustainable office practices, not just environmental, but also social and economic.”

When the Sustainable Office Awards survey is released to the faculty and staff at GVSU, those interested in participating, including entire departments, will be able to log into the university Sustainable Community Development Initiative web site to answer questions about office practices, said Bart Bartels, project manager of SCDI. The survey participant will be issued a certificate based on their responses, with awards ranging from bronze to platinum, depending on the score.

The survey will investigate several aspects of office practices that cover the triple bottom line of sustainability, which includes environment, economics and social impacts.

“We are hoping the Sustainable Office Award program raises awareness about additional activities everyone can do,” Bartels said. “The program may also create a competitive atmosphere in which everyone looks to be more sustainable and move up to the next award level.”

Some may think of this new program as a type of sustainable report card for faculty and staff at GVSU, but Glass said that it is more of a recognition and incentive program.

“We have a number of offices doing a great job with sustainable practice,” he said. “We want their practices to be recognized. At the same time, someone taking the survey may see some practices they have not considered, and so we hope to promote these best practices.”

Glass said that so far the feedback from the faculty and staff who have been involved in creating the awards has been very good. Norman Christopher, executive director of SCDI, said that he has already taken the survey and learned that he can improve his use of transportation to personally conserve fuel consumption and help reduce carbon emissions.

“Grand Valley as a university has received accolades for sustainability,” Glass said. “I am happy that we have some [awards] in place now for the individuals and departments that have helped us achieve that national attention. I hope to see recognition given to the practices done university-wide by departments and individuals. These practices add value to Grand Valley, save our students money, and set a good example for a sustainable community.”

[email protected]