Sustainable Flexible Work Toolkit


Person at desk working at laptop from homeHow can we envision a sustainable return to work under a hybrid model of work from home and from campus?

In this Sustainable Flexible Work Toolkit, find tips to save energy and money while working from your home office and campus office. This toolkit details how to build a sustainable office, save resources, and reduce waste in a post-pandemic world. Stay up to date on flexible work information on the People & Culture website

At-Home Sustainability

Building a Sustainable Home Office for your UC Work

  • Ergonomics & safety. Your comfort & health should be a top priority in your home and work office; regular breaks to stretch and look away from your screen can reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

  • Go digitalInstead of buying a new printer, use online services supported by campus like Google Drive and Dropbox -- learn more about options. When in the office, use the available networked printers.

    • Scanners or mobile apps can convert your files into a digital format instead of physical.

    • Utilize UC Berkeley’s clean-out carts if you’ll be throwing away large amounts of paper once you return to work. Campus shredding services are also available for confidential documents.

  • Use what you already have Instead of shopping for new pens, pencils, and notebooks, look around your house and see what items you already have. 

    • When you purchase something new, try to combine your orders or shopping trips.

    • Search for sustainable products in BearBuy, you will find options for office supplies, furniture and more from UC.
  • Buy electronics & office furniture second-hand or refurbishedThis can help reduce waste and save money. 

    • Public Surplus keeps a rotating inventory of items open for auction to the UC Berkeley community.

    • UC Berkeley Property Management offers a variety of items, ranging from lab equipment to in-store furniture surplus items.

    • To find discounted furniture, shop secondhand at thrift stores and websites.

    • To recycle your own electronics, find local e-waste recycling centers here

    • For recycling UC owned electronics, reach out to UC Berkeley Property Management.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR appliances whenever possible. Visit and browse through certified products and appliances that save you energy and money. Noting: when purchasing UC computer and related equipment sustainability requirements are included such as EPEAT and ENERGY STAR.

Saving electricity

  • Sustainable lighting. Lighting accounts for almost 20% of our home electricity usage - sustainable lighting choices that can save energy and money.

  • Million LED Challenge is dedicated to providing energy-efficient lighting to all.  LED light bulbs can reduce carbon emissions, and are durable for long-term use. UC students, staff, faculty, retirees and alumni can purchase light bulbs at nearly half the price of online competitors via the secure Million Light Bulb Challenge website and have them shipped to your home

  • “Reduce vampire energy.” Up to 20% of your power bill can come from items that are turned off but still plugged into the wall. Unplug chargers and other electric appliances that are not in use. 

    • Consider investing in a smart power strip. They stop supplying power to a device when it isn’t being used, keeping your energy bills to a minimum.  

Reducing waste

  • Composting services. If you live in Berkeley, you have access to city-wide composting services. Read more about food waste collection here

    • If you do not live in the City of Berkeley, find local composting policies and locations at

  • Alameda County waste reduction. For those located in Alameda County, StopWaste Alameda has a plethora of general and Alameda-specific waste reduction resources. See their at-home resources here.

Rebates to Save Energy, Water and Money

  • Electricity rebates. Electricity rebates can decrease your household energy consumption as well as your bills. PG&E, as well as other service providers, offer a multitude of rebate programs. 

    • PG&E offers rebates on qualified energy-efficient products, as well as home improvements, that are easy to apply for after installation: see current appliances with rebates here and check out their SmartRate program. 

    • The PG&E Energy Savings Assistance Program provides financial reimbursement for energy-saving home improvements for qualifying customers. 

    • Discover ways to save energy at home, based on whether it's warm or cold weather, through PG&E here

  • Community energy program. Join a community energy program, such as East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), non-profit energy providers that invest in communities and support renewable energy. See joint rate comparisons between PG&E and EBCE to find a clean energy plan to fits your budget.

  • Water rebates. Water rebates can save you water and money. Check out more at and

Staying Sustainable in a COVID world

  • Wear a reusable mask – or make your own! Support local artists/small businesses by purchasing handmade reusable masks. 

    • If you don’t feel comfortable with handmade ones, opt for disposable biodegradable hemp or bamboo ones instead. 

    • If you do use surgical masks, be sure to cut the strings off before you toss them. This can prevent the strings from tangling around the limbs of wildlife. 

  • Greener household products. Learn more about greener household products at and Click here for CDC cleaning guidance.

  • Properly disposing of single-use plastics. Make sure your personal PPE is properly disposed of in the landfill-marked waste bins.

Do more to create a sustainable future of work!

Learn more about your own environmental footprint

Calculate your carbon footprint through the CoolClimate Calculator developed by UC Berkeley researchers.

Calculate your water footprint here!

Take the UCB Staff Sustainability Training

Created by the Office of Sustainability, this UC Berkeley Sustainability Staff Training is composed of ten comprehensive modules, designed to allow you to work and complete at your own pace. Upon successful completion of the 10 modules, UC Berkeley Staff can earn a Staff Sustainability Training Certification of Completion showing your gained knowledge in sustainability. To record your staff development achievement it is recommended that staff enroll through theUC Learning Centeror access the website here.

Do you have more suggestions for working from home sustainably? Share using our feedback form here.

Top Tips

When you are in the office: 

1. Turn off what you are not using 

  • Monitors and lights when you’re away for more than 15 minutes

  • Overhead lights when not needed, including in common areas

  • Individual printers and other equipment at night and on weekends

2. Buy energy efficient products 

  • Make sure your new computer, appliance, and electronics purchases are ENERGY STAR

  • Choose LED light bulbs 

3. Reduce the energy used by your computer 

  • Enable the energy-saving features like sleep mode

  • Reduce the brightness and bump up the contrast of your monitor