Work Green Staff Sustainability Guide

OVERVIEW

Georgia Tech recognizes the environmental challenges we face and is committed to confronting them on campus, in our community, and beyond. The Office of Campus Sustainability's Work Green program supports faculty and staff in taking an active role in Georgia Tech’s sustainability efforts. 

SAVING ENERGY & WATER

Electricity generation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Commercial buildings play a significant role, consuming 19% of the electricity generated. More than half of that energy is used for heating and lighting, although it also takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use every day. Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours!

  1. Enable sleep mode on all printers, copiers, and computers. Work with your office’s IT support staff to ensure that sleep mode is enabled on your devices.
  2. Completely shut down electronics at the end of the day. Use our Power Down checklist to ensure electronics are turned off at night. Printers, monitors, computers, and other electronics drain significant amounts of power when not directly in use.
  3. Reduce your electricity use by utilizing natural light. In addition to reducing your energy consumption, studies prove that access to natural light improves cognitive performance and aids our health and wellbeing.
  4. Do not use space heaters. Space heaters are less efficient than HVAC systems and are a fire hazard.
  5. Work with your building’s facilities management to control your office temperature. If occupants are too cold or too hot, reach out to your building manager. You can contact your building manager through the Building Maintenance Requests page.
  6. Use tasks lights with LED bulbs. Task lighting better illuminates a workspace while using less energy by localizing the location of the light. Examples include desk lamps, reading lamps, and the under-cabinet lights.
  7. Be conscious of conserving water at the sink and report leaks to your building’s facilities manager. When washing your dishes or washing your hands, make sure to turn off the sink whenever possible. If you see a leak or hear one, make sure to report it right away. One leaking toilet can waste up 30 gallons of water a day.

PURCHASING SUSTAINABLY 

One of the easiest ways to impact the environment is through our purchasing decisions. To understand the environmental impact of a product, one must consider the acquisition of the raw materials, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal. Each stage presents the potential to harm the environment, be it through the release of greenhouse gas emissions, pollutants to our waterways, or pollutants into our airways. Green purchasing decisions can reduce costs, strengthen markets for recyclable products, reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals, and save energy.

  1. Consolidate orders (set a minimum order amount per order) when buying office supplies or equipment. Consolidating orders can reduce costs, create significant environmental savings in the form of reduced packaging waste and reduced transit related CO2 emissions.
  2. Purchase office paper with post-consumer recycled, agricultural residue, and/or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified content. Look for office paper with either the FSC Recycled or 100% recycled content labels.
  3. Make sure new electronic equipment and appliances are Energy Star rated or EPEAT registered
  4. Re-use furniture or acquire pre-used furniture and other office supplies and decor through Surplus Property
  5. Purchase cleaning products and dish soaps for the office space that are certified under the Safer Choice program of the EPA. Additionally, the EPA offers the Design for the Environment (DfE) label to help consumers make better choices when selecting antimicrobial products such as disinfectants and sanitizers.
  6. Do not purchase single-use products for the office. This could include plastic water bottles, disposable cups, plates, and silverware, single use coffee pods, and condiments (e.g., sugar or creamer). Instead, bring in reusable dishware, utensils, coffee makers from home, pick up used items from a thrift store, or, as a last resort, order new. 

RECYCLING 

Recycling is an essential component of sustainable operations at Georgia Tech. With services available in campus buildings, residence halls, outdoor spaces, and at special events, this is an area in which everyone is encouraged to make a contribution.  

  1. Every office at Georgia Tech now participates in the AWARE program, meaning office occupants are responsible for disposing of their own waste by taking their desk side bins to the communal recycles and trash stations. Within office spaces, mixed office paper, aluminum beverage cans, plastic bottles and containers, and corrugated cardboard are all accepted for recycling. To learn more about your role in recycling and how the AWARE program works, watch this video. Watch this video to understand why recycling is important, where the materials we recycle go, and what they become. 
  2. Staples will recycle ink and toner cartridges, regardless of the brand, at no cost. Download the Ink and Toner Recycling Program Guide.
  3. You can request temporary recycling containers for office clean outs or other occasions when your building or department will be generating an excess amount of recyclable material. Use the Temporary Container Request Form to schedule a temporary container delivery.
  4. Plastic shopping bags, bubble wrap, bubble mailers, air pillows, and stretchy film can be recycled at the Kendeda Building or the Exhibition Hall Post Office.
  5. Styrofoam, structural foam packing and Styrofoam coolers can be recycled in the Kendeda Building.

CREATING A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

A healthy environment includes healthy people. 

  1. Purchase at least 1 plant per 10 people in your office. House plants deter illness, clean the air, boost healing, and improve productivity. NASA has identified the top indoor plants that increase oxygen and filter our air, those plants are:
    • Gerbera Daisy
    • Snake Plant
    • Chinese Evergreen
    • English Ivy
    • Spider Plant
    • Peace Lily
    • Bamboo Palm
  2. A ten minute brisk walk has been proven to increase energy, mental alertness, and positive mood; consider incorporating the Tyler Brown Pi Mile route or an exploration of the public art on campus into your journey.

  3. Participate in the Certified Healthy program lead by the Office of Health and Wellbeing. Check out this program here

  4. Purchase cleaning products and dish soaps for the office space that are certified under the Safer Choice program of the EPA. Additionally, the EPA offers the Design for the Environment (DfE) label to help consumers make better choices when selecting antimicrobial products such as disinfectants and sanitizers.

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION

Campus Transportation 

By utilizing forms of public and zero emission transportation you can easily reduce your carbon footprint significantly. According to the EPA, 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US are linked to transportation. Learn More 

Ride a Bike  

Take Public Transit 

Commute Sustainably 

  • Take the Stinger – for free! There are nine Stinger bus routes that can be tracked with the Passio GO! App 

  • Ride MARTA – at a discount! GT’s Parking and Transportation offers discounted unlimited use monthly MARTA transit passes 

  • Carpool. Carpool permits are available at a lower price than the annual parking pass   

  • Drive less and pay and you go. SmartPark and the Flex Permit offer pay as you go parking options for those that drive infrequently and are great parings with biking and MARTA 

  • Drive electric. Georgia Tech offers 40+ electric vehicle charging stations 

GREEN EVENTS

The Office of Campus Sustainability's Green Event Guide produces information for those looking to make their events more sustainable. The Top 5 ways to reduce the impact associated with your events are:

  1. Use reusable serving ware
  2. Avoid printing materials
  3. Service local, organic, and seasonal food
  4. Promote recycling and offer compost
  5. Limit giveaways or select an environmentally friendly giveaway.