August 30, 2015

The Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), located within the College of Natural Resources, has recently achieved Green Certification through the Office of Sustainability and Energy's Green Department Certification Program. This program highlights the efforts of campus departments that have taken extensive and innovative steps towards becoming more sustainable through providing documentation on specific criteria that they meet. 

"ESPM is such a large department. We have faculty and graduate students working on such a range of topics: from forest management to new species of spiders, from trade regulations in the green technology industry to geospatial mapping," said Julie Van Scoy, Web and Communications Specialist for ESPM. "But everyone shares a deep concern for the environment and a motivation to make changes both large and small. So when we proposed the idea of getting certified as a Green Department, there was a lot of excitement!"

A green team including staff, faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads was created to pursue the green department certification. Team members were: Julie Van Scoy (ESPM Web & Communications Director), Alyssa Fong (ESPM Departmental Assistant), Omar Gutiérrez del Arroyo (ESPM Graduate Student), Robin Bellows (ESPM graduate student), John Battles (ESPM Faculty),Greg T. Drozd (ESPM Postdoctoral Researcher), Natalie J Stauffer (ESPM graduate student), and Max Moore (undergraduate student). 

The ESPM Department excelled in the innovation section of the green certification process, which rewards departments for coming up with their own ways of becoming more sustainable. ESPM's innovative efforts include having a "swap day" to exchange unused materials such as office supplies and electronics, featuring "green tips" about sustainability in the department's weekly newsletter, and reducing the amount of printed course materials such as syllabi. 

Being a large department with numerous buildings, offices, labs, and research facilities posed a challenge for coordinating the sustainability efforts required to achieve green certification. Because of this, ESPM's green certification team decided to concentrate their current efforts on offices and the common areas that everyone in the department utilizes, according to Van Scoy. Another issue arose about installing compost bins in buildings. Because some of the department's labs research insects, bins for food and other compost waste could not be installed too close to those facilities. 

Departments become certified by meeting five prerequisites and at least 10 out of 31 optional criteria as detailed in the Green Department Checklist. Depending on the number criteria met, departments achieve different levels of certification. The ESPM Department met 28 out of 31 criteria, achieving the Office of Sustainability and Energy's highest level of certification. Detailed information about each of the requirements, as well as links for more information, are available through the Green Department Resource Guide. Certifications are valid for two years. Profiles of the other 15 departments to become certified can be viewed here. 

Van Scoy advises other departments interested in becoming green certified to not let the application form overwhelm them, and to establish a dedicated leader early on to keep momentum by organizing meetings and delegating tasks. If your department would like to become green certified, please email sustainability@berkeley.edu

Pictured in photo, left to right: George Roderick (ESPM Chair), Julie Van Scoy (ESPM Web & Communications Director), Alyssa Fong (ESPM Departmental Assistant), Omar Gutiérrez del Arroyo (ESPM Graduate Student), and Kira Stoll (Office of Sustainability & Energy). Photo by Carlin Starrs.