Biology goes platinum with green ways

Biology earned platinum and a presidential visit
Biology earned platinum and a presidential visit

University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson and UO Sustainability Affairs Graduate Fellow Andrew Louw have awarded the Biology Department the UO’s first platinum-level Green Office Certification.

The biology department met platinum standards by first meeting the program’s prerequisite of setting its heating at 70 degrees and its cooling at 76 degrees; clearly labeling paper recycling receptacles and using printing paper that has at least 30 percent or more of post-consumer waste.

The department then exceeded standards by scoring 115 out of a possible 130 points, “the highest of all participants to date,” according to Louw, in the areas of energy, material management, transportation and events.

Biology Department Head Bruce Bowerman said it’s natural for the department to want to achieve high green standards. “Most people who go into biology care deeply about the natural world and want to live more sustainably,” he said.

“All office staff are encouraged to participate in the annual Eugene Commute Challenge, and the office tracks their annual emission from commute and business travel,” Louw said.

The Office of Sustainability Green Office Program began last year, awarding the first certificate to the office of Campus Planning and Real Estate. The program’s goal is to promote environmental awareness, have offices commit to reducing impacts, measure their own performance and adopt best practices.

The program uses a point-scoring system to award the certificates, which can be at the bronze, silver, gold or platinum ranking.

“As the university strives to be a national and regional leader in sustainability, we need the whole campus community to participate in efforts to reduce the institution’s environmental impact,” Louw said. “The Green Office Program offers a small but unique incentive for administrative offices on campus to do this.

“Students and faculty who see staff greening their practices will feel inspired to change their own behavior.”

Bowerman credits Marie Greig, Biology’s “stellar” accountant, as being “entirely responsible for making this a goal for our department, and the rest of our staff was exceptionally receptive and team-oriented.”

To date, 15 offices have received Green Office Certification, with another 10 or so expected to be certified before the end of spring term.

For more information on how to apply to be Green Office certified, fill out a scorecard on the Office of Sustainability website.

- by Aria Seligmann, UO Office of Strategic Communication