NIU certifies 9 ‘green offices’

By Madison Kacer

Nine offices have been certified under the revamped NIU Green Office Initiative, which began at the start of the semester.

The NIU Green Office Initiative seeks to make offices more environmentally friendly with minor and feasible tasks in the offices on NIU’s campus, according to its mission statement.

The coordinating offices include the Student Association, the Green Team and the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.

The program has been in place since 2012, but was completely revamped during the fall 2015 semester to make certification less complicated and allow for student involvement, said Melissa Burlingame, research associate for the Center for Governmental Studies.

After it was decided that the program needed to be revamped, a group of students took on the task of volunteering to reconstruct the program. In spring 2016, $337.40 was funded for materials and $800 was funded as a stipend to pay students from the Student Engagement Fund, Burlingame said.

“Melissa [Burlingame] got in contact with me and because of my policy emphasis she saw me as a good person to work with administration and staff on pushing the idea and getting people involved with the program,” said Stuart Nissenbaum, Green Office Initiative director.

To earn a green certification, offices begin by completing a self-evaluation form at the bronze level. If they fulfill the requirements for bronze, they can self-evaluate for silver level. If those requirements are fulfilled, they must meet with Nissenbaum or Dan Kenneally, Green Office Initiative coordinator, to verify their prior certifications, after which they have the opportunity to meet the gold level standard.

Bronze level

In order to earn bronze level certification, an office must fulfill five of eight listed green characteristics, which include the recycling of toner and printer cartridges, the availability of recycling bins and the use of pen recycling.

The survey research team at the Center for Governmental Studies office and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean’s office are bronze level certified.

Silver level

In order to earn silver level certification, an office must fulfill five of 11 listed green characteristics, which include the reuse of office supplies, direct deposit payment for employees and the use of rechargeable batteries.

The Student Association office, Division of Information Technology office, a mathematics office and College of Visual and Performing Arts dean’s office are silver level certified.

Gold level

In order to earn gold level certification, an office must fulfill at least five of 11 listed green characteristics, which include at least 50 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, tea or snacks and the availability of an office compost bin.

The Environmental Health and Safety office, Office of the President and Student Involvement and Leadership Development are all gold level certified.

Because new certification did not begin until this semester, not all offices have been reached out to. Offices are contacted via email and face-to-face interaction, Burlingame said.

Nissenbaum said that he has started receiving multiple requests from offices to receive further information about the certification process.

“The thing that’s going to push environmental change is environmental education,” Nissenbaum said.