Network Resources
This category covers a broad range of aspects including maintenance, renovations, landscaping, lighting, water usage, heating/AC, appliances and equipment, LEED certification, Information Technology, utility rebates.
BuildingsConservation and Recycling
Pollution PreventionAdministrative Stuff

Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff


Getting People to Support Sustainability

July 15, 2015

Like many green team leaders and bloggers, I browse the online news media and research sources for trends and information that can inspire office goals and document the benefits of sustainable business practices.  This week, I came across an interview that could be helpful in understanding and reframing the reasons for combating climate change into a not-to-be-missed opportunity.  Yale Environment360 interviewed Per Espen Stoknes about his new book, “What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming”. The interview is included in an article by Richard Schiffman, an environmental journalist, on Yale’s website.

Stoknes’s book provides his analysis and explanation why people and countries have been slow to tackle the looming threats posed by climate change and what needs to happen to turn that around, and soon.  He describes five main psychological barriers.  As I read them, I thought they had some application on a very practical level with regard to individual leaders and administrations that we may encounter in our day-to-day work lives.  
The five barriers are:  the distant nature of the problem both in time and physical distance, the doom and gloom messaging which makes people feel powerless and is paralyzing to public action and budgets, the psychological defenses people put up to avoid feeling guilty about their contributions to fossil fuel emissions, and the outright deniers of climate change who use denial as a defense against those who they feel are criticizing their lifestyle and telling them how to live. Stoknes explains each barrier and comes up with a prescription for reframing the conversation about climate change on a more positive level.  He contends that communicators should underscore the near-term benefits of climate action and that it is a huge opportunity for economic development, among other things.  There has been progress made that needs to be given greater exposure and common awareness—there are success stories that show “we can do it”. 
Many of us have contended with either executives or peer colleagues who are climate change naysayers or who are slow to act to change business practices to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable.  It helps to understand people and their needs when you want to persuade them to a cause or course of action.  This article provides some insight for getting better results from those upon whom green teams must depend to achieve their objectives. 
BuildingsConservation and Recycling
Pollution PreventionAdministrative Stuff

Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff


Summertime Events and Good Books

June 17, 2015
Looking for a green event to attend or a good book to read this summer?  Check out these suggestions.
The Rocky Mountain Institute hosts a series of educational opportunities throughout the year to which the public is invited.  Three are scheduled in Colorado this summer—upcoming for July in Aspen, is a program on how island nations are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.  In August, again in Aspen, is a program on how China can chart a clean energy path, and the third in September in Basalt will explain how green buildings are designed, built, and occupied.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy plans a summer study conference in Buffalo, NY, this August about the advances in industrial energy efficiency.   
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is speaking at the Fourth Annual Appalachian Energy Summit hosted by Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina on July 13.  Free and open to the public. lists a calendar of international events and conferences on a wide range of green topics.
It’s not too early to calendar the upcoming Green Festival Expo in Los Angeles that kicks off September 25 for three days.

If you’re looking for a list of recommended reading on sustainability and climate change topics for yourself or an office book group, look no farther than these two from Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin

BuildingsConservation and Recycling
Pollution PreventionAdministrative Stuff

Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff


Spotlight Your Green Program With an Annual Report

June 3, 2015

One of the most important things a green team can do to promote continued support from executive and office staff is to issue an annual progress report.  In fact, the investment in time and resources to establish the program requires an accounting of results.  To this end, program goals and objectives for green teams should be carefully tracked with data so that by the end of the year the progress that’s been made can be calculated.  The report itself matters.  It should be appealing to read, supplemented with charts and photos, and published timely.   One of the better vehicles to use to announce and release the report is the office newsletter to all employees. 

Two strong examples of a newsletter and annual report come from the University of Connecticut (UConn).  The university’s Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) publishes a periodic newsletter with interesting articles on events and activities related to the school’s nationally recognized commitment to sustainability.   The most recent issue is an overview of the past academic year.  In format and content, it is an outstanding example of newsletter journalism.
In the opening message from Rich Miller, OEP Director, he offers highlights of the newsletter’s content and references the first Sustainability Progress Report that was issued by the OEP last fall.  The report is an in-depth report on achievements, progress, and challenges related to the university’s sustainability goals and climate action plan.  The report is organized by subject areas—energy, transportation, purchasing, adaptation measures, food and dining services, water, waste management, buildings, and outreach.  The report is a relatively short ten pages, is well-designed, and is readable as an online document as well as a printed report. 
There is a lot of value in using both a newsletter and a report to keep people informed on the efforts and accomplishments of the green team.  A newsletter article, or even a monthly email, keeps the program visible and relevant.  An annual report is the summary of all that was done, what is ongoing, and the future objectives that will advance the office toward its ultimate vision for sustainability.
BuildingsConservation and Recycling
Administrative Stuff

Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff


Portland Takes Aim at Paper Towels, the Sunscreen Guide, and Water Wise Stuff

May 27, 2015
Portland, Oregon is serious about helping businesses to adopt sustainable practices.  The city matches business and non-profits with a sustainability advisor who will evaluate the business and offer a variety of free services to conserve resources, improve efficiency and save money.  It’s all for the greater good of providing a healthy and quality work space for employees.  Even if you don’t work in the Portland area, there is still a lot of helpful material you can use in your green office program.  Check out the Resource Guide tab on their website where you can download free posters and stickers, learn how you can help employees to use less paper towels, and how to buy green, among other things.
Have you wondered which hand drying system is best for the environment—electric hand dryers or paper towels?  The short answer is the electric dryer.  Paper towels come close, but only if one towel is used.  How can that be possible?  Easy!  Check out the Ted Talk where Joe Smith, and Oregonian, shows how to do it.  It’s all in the shakin’.  This 4 ½ minute video is perfect for kicking off your next green meeting or general staff meeting.  Learn more here about the sustainable services program offered in Portland and discover resources that can help any team anywhere. 
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its annual lists of the best and the worst sunscreen lotions and sprays.  This is always a popular and consumer-minded reference you can share with employees.    Click here for the rundown on “the hall of shame” brands and click here for the Best Sunscreens.  The EWG reminds us not to fall for the “more SPF is better” scam.  The sun protection tops out between 30 and 50. 

If you live in a drought-stricken state like California, you might wonder if the excess water from your lawn sprinkler and the water that goes down the drain is “saved” by draining back down into the groundwater aquifers.  The answer is NO, NO, a thousand times NO, at least not in your lifetime.  So cut back on the water timers, turn off the faucet, and use any spillover from your kitchen sink to water the indoor plants and wipe off the outdoor furniture.  Read Mr. Green’s explanation here

BuildingsAdministrative Stuff

Buildings, Administrative Stuff


Water, Water Everywhere. Mmm....don't think so

April 1, 2015
This week GWG focuses on what offices can do to conserve water and use it wisely.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “approximately nine percent of the total water use in commercial and institutional facilities in the U.S. takes place in office buildings. The three largest uses of water in office buildings are restrooms, heating and cooling, and landscaping.”
Water is a BIG topic of conversation and concern in California.  Mandatory conservation strategies have been ordered by the Governor to achieve a 25% reduction in water use.  I can tell you, being a resident of the state, that many municipalities, water districts, and counties have implemented guidelines and rules over the past several years that have produced significant savings.  But now, we must do more.  The snowpack is 5% of historical averages for this time of year.  Rainfall, while more than last year, fell well below seasonal norms. The impact of the severe drought is driving the state to adopt stringent rules for the foreseeable future. 
This crisis in California is a time for action by green teams, but serves as a call for action to green teams everywhere.  California’s drought could happen anywhere, and water as a resource to meet increasing needs of the population, agriculture and industry is neither unlimited nor free.
There are three resources to find information, ideas, toolkits, and more.  My “go to” site to start is the EPA’s WaterSense website, where you can find a factsheet for commercial buildings and guidelines for ways to conserve water, from spotting and fixing simple leaks to the hidden use of water in energy systems such as heating and air conditioning. 
Another resource that is terrific is the WaterUseItWisely, a campaign that started in Arizona to address existing and anticipated water issues facing the growing population and includes many organizations and municipalities in its partnership.  The website includes hundreds of tips for offices.  
The last resource is your hometown or Sacramento in my case.  Green teams can inquire of their municipal governments and water districts for help and information.  For the city of Sacramento, there is a section dedicated to water conservation information and services.  There is a FAQ sheet for office water conservation and a calendar of events and free training seminars on a wide array of water saving methods for the office and home.  At our invitation, our green committee held a “lunch and learn” event and the executive director of a local water district gave a compelling presentation on the critical state of water reserves, impacts, options for building resiliency, and ways our office could help save water and cut expenses.

These are just a few resources to get started.  The reasons for doing so are aplenty.