Recognizing our newest 11 Green Departments

May 25, 2016

In May 2016, 11 departments gathered to celebrate their recent certification as Green Departments.  The departments vary in size, mission, and location, but share a common goal of making the campus more green.  Their Green Teams worked over the last three months to make improvements and to educate their colleagues on new and existing practices.   Their efforts were recognized at a recent gathering, where CNR Dean Keith Gilless presented the teams with their certificates.  Congratulations to all eleven departments!

UC Berkeley was one of the first campuses nationwide to implement a program like this, and has worked to adapt the program to keep it relevant.  Over time, the certification has become more difficult, as technology changed and as the campus offered more programs like composting.  The current checklist is the most comprehensive and perhaps most challenging ever.  There were more options and points available for credit, but each Green Team – whether new to the program or those who re-certified – took on new work and projects as part of the certification process.   

There are now 23 certified departments, representing over 3,000 employees.  This means that 20% of staff and faculty are part of a department that has been recognized as green.  This year, the Office of Sustainability and Energy used a TGIF grant to help departments with the process.  At the beginning of the semester, the Office of Sustainability and Energy assigned a student intern to each interested department.  Each intern worked with their departments’ Green Teams to regularly share updates and track which actions to pursue, working toward a set deadline.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies is one of the smaller departments, but brought significant enthusiasm and expertise for making their department greener and for incorporating sustainability into their broader program and research portfolio.  CMES converted to digital newsletters, uses soy and low energy printing, and reduced staff commute.

Space Sciences Lab is the first lab building to be green certified.  They also occupy an older building, with access to fewer campus resources up on the hill.  SSL undertook like having a car share account, having a teracycle, glove, and garment recycling program, and minimizing air travel by having several video conferencing facilities.

The Graduate Division was the first academic Green Department in 2012.  They are also a smaller department who pioneered campus-wide initiatives, including encouraging the electronic submissions of dissertations.  The Graduate Division is also recognized for having a rechargeable battery program, and using portable webcasting hardware, which eliminates the need for travel to attend graduate advisor sessions.

The School of Journalism is another small department, and one of only three representing an academic unit.  Journalism implemented initiatives that include reducing the energy use of computers, lights, and printers, converting to digital course evaluations, and regularly meeting to discuss recycling and waste reduction.

The Architects & Engineers was one of 5 departments who re-certified.  A&E implemented initiatives that include converting to sustainable office and cleaning supplies, being a campus leader in environmental awareness and outreach, and coordinating green events such as a building cleanout.

Facility Services is by far our largest green department.  They have a long-standing green team that works to continually improve their operations and that includes students directly in their efforts.Facilities Services fosters a campus-wide awareness of water and energy efficiency, leads the campus in recycling and composting, and dramatically reduced the number of fleet vehicles.

Construction and Design is also in a leased space, but worked with their building manager to make changes in the operation of their building.  C&D purchased an electric fleet vehicle replacing the old energy inefficient model, uses mobile technology for project managers to reduce the usage of paper and transportation, and expanded their composting program.

The LEAD Center is an obvious candidate for certification, since it is home to The Green Initiative Fund and the Student Environmental Resource Center, but also faced the challenge of occupying a new and unfamiliar building just last Fall.  The LEAD Center established a culture of sustainability by starting a bring your own mug campaign, educating their staff on sustainability efforts, and participation in the 2015 Cool Campus Challenge by nearly 25% of the department. 

California Hall is another building with multiple units, but their Green Team worked hard to ensure that all building occupants were aware of what they could do to be more sustainable.California Hall is being recognized for having a furniture and office supply ReUSE center, hosting a sustainability-themed department social, and creating a bike parking space to encourage green commuting.

Recreational Sports was certified last December and the first to certify with this newest checklist.  In addition to composting in multiple locations, they reduced paper use, eliminated bottled water, recycle shoes and tennis balls, and use biodegradable laundry soap.  Rec Sports received the highest number of points ever documented by a department, which is a testament to commitment by staff to reduce the impact of their operations.

Operational Excellence is the one of only two departments certified in a leased, off-campus space.  OE organized a building wide clean up, repurposes furniture and office supplies, and offers low carbon emission transportation options and virtual conference facilities.

 Since 2009, the Office of Sustainability and Energy has offered Green Department certification, recognizing campus departments that take steps to be more sustainable. The program identifies a set of actions for certification, and is designed to provide resources, guidance, and recognition for departments as they take steps to decrease their environmental impacts. The establishment of Green Teams with students, faculty, and staff has provided a unique opportunity for collaboration within the campus and has increased awareness and understanding of sustainability issues.