Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 2014 Sustainability Profile: Financial Affairs Green Team

Each month, our newsletter features a person or group on campus that is working toward a more sustainable world. This month features the Financial Affairs Green Team, who hosted "A Year in Waste" this past year in order to encourage use of sustainable practices in their office.

We asked the Financial Affairs Green Team about the Year in Waste and their strategies for spearheading sustainable practices in departments.

Financial Affairs is deeply entrenched in sustainability and hosting a year in waste. Tell us a little about what the "Year In Waste" is and how financial affairs has worked to green their business practices:
In response to the Chancellor’s Sustainability Challenge and to support the university’s goal to be zero waste by the year 2020, the Financial Affairs Green Team kicked off this effort by presenting "A Year in Waste". The Green Team hosted a fall "Year in Waste" event as a creative and fun way to build awareness of waste generated by Financial Affairs activities and to encourage more sustainable and ecologically-friendly practices. This event included a humorous skit by the Financial Affairs Actors Pool, a raffle of donated "green items", food, a debut of the Dimeo Lane Video - sharing what was learned from visiting the Dimeo Lane Landfill about trash management and sustainability, and an inspirational talk and call to action by Director of Sustainability, Lacey Raak.

Financial Affairs was also a collaborator on a four week pilot waste stream project including Waste and Recycling, Grounds Services, Custodial, and 2300 Delaware Facilities Managements. During this pilot, a baseline measurement of waste was collected and will be used to compare against future waste measurements. Through education, conservation and increased composting, our goal this year is to divert at least 10% of our waste from going to the Dimeo Lane Landfill. With the help of a carbon fund grant, a second worm bin has been installed and is in use.

Another event featured as part of our "Year in Waste" was a Bring your Hand Towel to Work Week. Eighty-two percent of Financial Affairs employees pledged to stop using paper towels for at least a week. In addition, employees took the Chancellor’s Challenge with a prize given to units with the highest participation levels. This was a wonderful opportunity to educate and engage people in discussions about campus sustainability and living a greener lifestyle - encouraging us all to be mindful of the amount of waste we generate. To that end, educational events related to a waste reduction theme have been scheduled for the year: Worm Composting with David Shaw, Preparing Green Lunches by Culinary Educator Talya Lutzker, and an E-waste Recycling Presentation by Hannah Hodgson.

All eight units of financial affairs have undergone green office certification.

There are so many other departments and units on campus-- what is one strategy that you would suggest to those that are interested in spearheading sustainability efforts and greening their business practices?
Critical to the success of the Financial Affairs Green Team has been the level of commitment, engagement and support for sustainability from Financial Affairs Management and The Chancellor. The creation of a Mission Statement helped to clarify our focus and work more effectively towards reaching our goals. The "Green Team" used project plans to share goals and objectives with actionable steps for management approval prior to execution.

The creation of a clear vision and mission along with a commitment to educate others is a great starting place for any department interested in enacting change and greening their practices. Clear communication is key – providing all participants with opportunities for discussion, education and engagement. It is important to have "stakeholders" rather than passive observers to truly effect change.

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