Making UMaine greener, one office at a time

By Karina Graeter

On any given afternoon, you may find Office of
Sustainability AmeriCorps member, Christine Seibert, trekking across campus with a reusable bag full of sustainable goodies and a neon green sticker. She’s on her way to a Green Office Certification, where she’ll meet with campus community members to certify their office as green and place the “certified green space” sticker on their office door.

The stickers have been popping up on office doors all over campus since Spring 2018. The Office of Sustainability Green Office Certification (GOC) program aims to show UMaine staff, faculty, and students that they can make an impact on UMaine’s sustainability. By reducing their electricity usage, limiting office waste, and adopting more sustainable transportation behaviors, each GOC program participant makes a significant impact on the sustainability of campus.

Program participants start by taking a quick online survey about their sustainability behaviors. Anyone with an office on campus is welcome to participate. The survey involves questions about energy efficiency, waste, transportation, and engagement. Participants share whether or not they engage in different sustainability behaviors, such as switching off the lights when they leave their office. If they engage in 75% or more of the sustainable behaviors, they pass. This is followed by a short office visit to go over the survey and discuss campus sustainability.

In addition to their sticker, GOC participants receive a bag of sustainable goodies!

Since the GOC program’s inception, the Office of Sustainability has certified more than 60 offices. Most of the participants were already engaging in some sustainability behaviors, such as recycling, limiting their printing, and switching off lights. But participants respond that some behaviors were more difficult to adopt, including shutting off and unplugging all their appliances at the end of the day or regularly commuting using more sustainable forms of transportation.

Many participants are excited about the opportunity to make their offices greener. According to GOC participant Kate Walters, “I was inclined to participate to see if there were more ways to be energy conscious while in my office. As this is where I spend the majority of my time throughout the work week, it made sense to me that it would be a great place to make efforts to reduce my energy usage.” For Office of Sustainability AmeriCorps member Christine Seibert, the response to the GOC program has been very rewarding:

“Going on office visits is a great way for the Office of Sustainability to connect with the campus. We get to meet others passionate about sustainability and share what our office is working on to make the campus more sustainable as a whole. It’s always fun hearing from people who take the survey and end up adapting new sustainable behaviors because of it. I think it’s a great way for faculty and staff to gauge where they are on the path to sustainability, as well as gain some tips to keep going in the right direction!”

If you’re interested in participating in the Green Office Certification program, learn more and take the survey here.