Sustainability in the Workplace
Looking for a way to incorporate sustainability into your workplace? Get your department or office involved by joining the Green Team Network. The Green Team Network is a campus-wide initiative that empowers faculty and staff to integrate sustainability through education, support, and collaboration.
Faculty members seeking academic resources can visit the Academics page for information about the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability and the annual Sustainability across the Curriculum workshop.
Looking for immediate solutions? Check out these how-to guides:
- How to recycle on campus
- How to print sustainably
- How to make a sustainable purchase
- How to use technology more sustainably
- How to plan sustainable events
- How to register a carpool
If you are a Wake Forest University student or a member of the alumni body, you may be familiar with the “Wake the Library” program hosted at midnight in ZSR throughout the week of finals every semester. You may be less familiar, however, with the work of ZSR Green Team captains Mary Scanlon and Peter Romanov, as well as Mary Beth Locke and other ZSR Sustainability Committee members, to make the event sustainable.
Their collective efforts are featured in the newly published resource “Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries.” In the chapter Teaching by Doing, the leaders discuss their commitment to decrease the amount of waste produced at the event. Check it out for yourself.
The Office of Sustainability and the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES) invite you to enhance your teaching and engagement with sustainability issues by participating in the Magnolias Project May 13-14, 2014 on the Wake Forest campus. No prior experience with sustainability-related issues in the classroom or in research is necessary, and faculty at all ranks and career stages are welcome!
This innovative approach to curricular change, modeled on the nationally renowned Piedmont Project (Emory University) and Ponderosa Project (Northern Arizona University), provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating and collegial experience to pool their expertise. Faculty who would like to develop a new course module or an entirely new course that engages issues of sustainability and the environment are encouraged to apply.
Detailed information is available on the project’s webpage. Applications are due April 11, 2014. Participants will earn a $500 stipend.
From lamps to pianos, if you have moved or discarded furnishings on campus in the past few years, chances are you have met Alan Winkler, Surplus Coordinator for Wake Forest University. With a passion for keeping anything reusable out of the landfill, Winkler collects, catalogs, stores, and delivers myriad furnishings and recyclable waste streams across campus.
Before Winkler was hired, surplus property was managed by Michael Logan, Manager of Strategic Sourcing in Procurement Services. Although Logan was successful in finding placements for some pieces through a basic surplus listserv, both Facility and Campus Services and Procurement Services recognized the system could do much more. “I am really thankful that we have leaders and a responsive administration on campus that recognized it wasn’t the best that the university could do,” said Logan.
What was a bare bones effort when Winkler arrived is now a thriving, well organized waste diversion program. “The surplus program was my baby,” Winkler said. With a background in logistics, Winkler tackled the substantial surplus inventory that had built up prior to his arrival. In the first year alone, the program helped the university avoid nearly $440,000 in expenses, mostly in avoided landfill fees and avoided expenses for new furnishings. In addition to cost savings, the program generates substantial resource savings: nearly 100 tons of waste have been diverted from the landfill in less than two and a half years. November 2013 also marked the first-ever WFU surplus sale. With over 200 pieces of surplus property sold to members of the Wake Forest community, this successful event could well turn into an annual offering.
Last year, Winkler began collecting electronic waste for recycling as well. Through established relationships with organizations like Goodwill, the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, which houses the surplus property program, continues to find safer and more cost effective ways to divert potentially harmful waste streams, like electronics and toner cartridges, from landfills.
Winkler hopes to see even further expansion down the road. “The next step is to have the space, time, and staff to include office supplies in the program.” In its current configuration, the surplus program is only available to faculty and staff. Such an expansion would make some of the supplies available to students as well.
Whether the task of the hour is moving staff and faculty offices, helping a customer outfit a new office with gently used furnishings, strategically placing new recycling bins, or coordinating collection of inkjet and toner cartridges for recycling, Winkler can be counted on for courteous customer service and a commitment to Wake Forest’s campus sustainability goals.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
Students in my fall 2013 Literature and the Environment seminar (ENG 341G) spent the semester exploring different sites of belonging through world literature. Their course work carried them through critical discussions on the anthropocene, bioregionalism, deep ecology, ecotones and general systems theory. In their final class unit, they targeted their analysis toward key issues of sustainability. Several groups of students got together to reflect on the ways sustainability connected them to different communities of practice. Prominent among such communities was Wake Forest.
In the following essays, students consider the ways environments are composed through participation. They urge other students to be more fully present in the ways they interact with their campus environment, and they propose solutions for more sustainable technological practices. Other essays reflect on the ways Wake Forest has shaped students as engaged individuals; students consider the ways the college’s environs have provided a vital resource for their spirits. Though all these short essays are quite different in their approaches to place values, all share an important central insight: Sustainability is something that needs to be grounded in communities of belonging.
By Dr. Judith Madera, Magnolias Project Participant 2012
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, we will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:
- resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
- academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
- service and social action, and
- bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.
Eleven faculty members from across the disciplinary spectrum came together on May 15-16, 2013 for the 2nd annual Magnolias Curriculum Project. This year’s workshop was facilitated by alumni from last year’s inaugural project: Sarah Mason (mathematics) and Luke Johnston (religion).
The aims of the workshop are to build a transdisciplinary community of scholars committed to addressing issues of sustainability and to empower faculty to consider themselves the experts at infusing sustainability into their courses.
Participants in the two-day workshop discussed relevant literature, considered and developed student learning outcomes, and shared resources with their colleagues. The deliverable for each participant is a syllabus into which they have infused sustainability-related outcomes. The course may be one they have been teaching and plan to teach again or a completely new course they are developing. The revised and new syllabi are posted online and serve as examples for future cohorts.
Wake Forest currently offers a minor in environmental studies and plans to launch a new Master’s in sustainability next fall. The result of the annual curriculum workshop is an increased number of courses being offered that support a variety of sustainability-related learning outcomes. This opens up possibilities for students pursuing these tracks of study to access electives that match up with a diverse array of disciplinary and professional interests.
The workshop model also aligns with the teaching and engagement goals of the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES), as it is designed to cultivate a broad community of scholars addressing sustainability issues. This year’s cohort illustrates the breadth of that community with participant scholars from communication, Divinity, education, entrepreneurship, humanities, math, physics, psychology, and writing.
Closing comments from participants in the 2013 workshop reinforced the value of the collaborative model; when asked what they enjoyed most about the experience they said:
Bringing together folks from different disciplines and allowing the conversation to unfold organically.
Interacting with colleagues and bouncing ideas off each other. The outdoor excursion was great!
The camaraderie of the instructors and participants.
I think it did a good job providing substantive introductions to the constellation of issues that make up sustainability without being overly long or too one-track.
By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability
A few years ago I happened upon an intriguing article written about an indigenous tribe nestled deep in the amazon forest. Some members of this tribe, as far as researchers can gather, have never had any substantial, meaningful contact with the modern world. Observed only from a distance, the Awa know nothing of the cultural and historical events that have shaped our collective understanding of Western reality. For subsistence, they depend on profoundly nuanced relationships to the natural systems that support them, and have amassed an extensive and intimate body of knowledge about flora, fauna, climate, and geology that the Western world has all but lost. The plight of the Awa, who are under constant threat from global agribusinesses, inspire questions about how differently our two cultures engage reality, an interface with the more-than-human world that we commonly, but erroneously, think of as universal. If we could talk to them, would they be able to teach us something profound about our human relationships to the environment? Or would our two realities be so incompatible that any real communication would be impossible? What precisely have we lost—and have long since forgotten about—in our efforts to insulate ourselves from nature? To explore these questions, I designed a writing and critical thinking course that would engage students in a semester-long philosophical inquiry, one that would ask them to methodically examine their lives, their perceptions, and their relationships to the more-than-human world – Thinking Like a Mountain: Environmental Sustainability in an Age of Mass Distraction.
Although generally successful, I realized after a few semesters of teaching the course that something was missing. Something practical. Something concrete. Other than reevaluating their perceptions and their lives, how might students effect change in a world that flirts quite closely with global environmental collapse? On cue, enter Wake Forest University’s Magnolias Curriculum Project. Through this project, and with the help of some very knowledgeable peers (Luke Johnston and Sarah Mason especially), I redesigned the course to incorporate a hands-on approach to local and global sustainability issues. The students in the course maintain their scholarly pursuit of academic writing and environmental philosophy. But now they ground their inquiries by exploring and writing about Wake Forest’s many sustainability initiatives, from the Campus Kitchen and the Campus Garden to the Sustainability Theme House, recycling, LEED certification, and energy conservation. Although I am in the middle of the first semester with this redesigned course, the results are palpable. Wake Forest students strive for a balance between their interior lives and the demands of the material world that surrounds them. As such, the course empowers them to connect their desires for positive, mindful change with realistic, real-world opportunities.
By Dr. Eric Stottlemyer, Magnolias Project Participant 2013
Laughter abounded at last month’s Green Team Quarterly meeting, as Bridget Marrs playfully briefed the Green Team captains on the dos and don’ts of workplace ergonomics. The Green Team, a network of staff and faculty who advocate for the integration of sustainability into their departments’ daily operations, listened closely to Marrs, the Occupational Health, Safety, and Training Coordinator from Wake Forest Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and made note of information they could bring back to their own offices.
Ergonomics is an applied science that focuses on finding optimal fit between workers and their work environments. An ergonomically sound work environment operates to minimize work-related injuries. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), or ergonomic injuries, account for 33% of all illness and injury cases that result in missed days of work, making ergonomic considerations critical for the financial sustainability of any institution.
In her presentation, Marrs emphasized that ergonomic improvements were possible on any budget and creating an ergonomically sound workplace was often a matter of creatively rearranging what someone already has in place. For those who wanted to see ergonomic work space options in person, Marrs informed the Green Team of the EHS ergonomics lab, located at 2430 A, Reynolda Rd. The lab, opened on April 16th of this year, is set up for visitors to “test drive” different systems.
After the presentation, fourteen Green Team members scheduled personal ergonomics assessments. These assessments, also conducted by Marrs, are free to all Wake Forest staff members. If you would like to schedule a visit to the ergonomics lab or a personal ergonomics assessment, contact Bridget Marrs at .
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
The University Corporate Center now has three parking spaces dedicated to electric vehicles. Parking and Transportation installed outlets at these spaces, allowing Wake Forest staff to charge up during the work day. Alex Crist, the director of Parking and Transportation, explains “the decision to dedicate three spaces was instrumental in a couple employees making the decision to purchase an electric vehicle, as they wanted to ensure the vehicle could be charged during the day.”
Electric vehicles convert about 59–62% of electrical energy to power at the wheels, while conventional automobiles only convert about 17–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels. In addition to being more energy efficient, electric vehicles are quieter and produce no exhaust emissions (although there are emissions associated with the production of electric power).
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Behind every green building, there is a team of designers and builders who imagined and built it. For several buildings at Wake Forest, Paul Borick is an important member of that team. Borick is a Registered Architect and Senior Project Manager for WFU Facilities & Campus Services. He manages design and construction projects anywhere from $1,000 to over $50 million.
This Senior Project Manager incorporates sustainability into both his work and daily life. The majority of the larger capital projects that he manages are designed to meet at least LEED Silver certification. With this standard, design and construction of facilities must consider all facets of sustainability in buildings and site selection.
The new residence halls and dining hall on the North campus are no exception to this standard. As one of his favorite LEED projects thus far, he believes that the new residence halls feature many important sustainable design features. In particular, an air driven mechanical system, will help alleviate bad-smelling fan coils and satisfy residents climatic requirements while saving energy. He is also excited to show off the new glass solar canopy trellis at the new North Dining Hall. Ultimately, he hopes that “the solar trellis will make people think: ‘I could do that. That would look great on my back patio or maybe on the facade of a building I may commission or design in the future.’ Seeing technology like this displayed prominently may inspire people to think of other ways to use technology, such as tidal power or the moons gravitational forces to generate power.”
Mr. Borick is a strong supporter of photovoltaic technology. He is currently lobbying for for the installation of a solar canopy on our facilities building. “What better place to show off this technology than right next to our power plant?” he asks. The project could help power our campus, while inspiring others to be more sustainable. Borick says, “I really do feel it is the future solution to all of our energy needs. I have this vision of producing power all day with solar energy and then turning it into hydrogen and then using hydrogen to fuel our cars, homes and factories. When hydrogen is burned, all it produces is water — kind of a win-win.”
In addition to his work on campus, Paul Borick has grown up to incorporate sustainable decisions in his everyday life. “I think I have always thought of myself as kind of an ‘earth man.’ I feel we have been put on this planet to be good stewards for all of God’s creations,” Borick says. “I think this mindset comes from early hiking and Boy Scout experience. I always strive to leave things better than I found them. That goes for something as little as picking up a piece of trash to making sure we leave things in good order for generations to come.” As a promoter of being a good steward to the Earth, Borick is also a bit of a recycling junkie. While the north campus project has recycled about 85% of its construction and demolition waste, he also prides himself on his recycling bin always being fuller than the trash bin.
As we move towards a more sustainable future, Mr. Borick encourages everyone to think through their decisions more completely: “I always like to remind people to think about the final outcome. Did I do the most good using as few resources as I could? I think that is why I am such a big solar technology fan because other than the production of the PV itself the impact to the environment is somewhat minimal.” His final words of encouragement for living a sustainable life are to “never forget the little things like turning off a light when no one is around or turning off a dripping faucet. Use one paper towel instead of two. If everyone does that just think how big the impact can be.
Written by Kiana Courtney, Communications and Outreach Intern