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Academic Affairs office going 'green'

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Members of the first "Green Team," Susan Dale, left, and Ruth Herstek, in their "green" office with their "Green Paw" cerificates.
4/20/2011 —


Participating in the Penn State Green Paws program

The "green" paw of Penn State has left some prints in the Academic Affairs office at Penn State New Kensington.

By becoming "greener," that is, doing such things as reducing waste and saving energy, the office earned two certificates from the Penn State Campus Sustainability Office Green Paws program.  Arlene Hall, director of academic affairs, Donald Bruckner, assistant director of academic affairs, and administrative support assistants Ruth Herstek and Susan Dale, "greened" their workspace by completing the first two levels of the four-level program.

“It was fun turning our traditionally blue and white office into a green one," said Herstek, a Penn State alumna. "The first two levels helped us evaluate our office procedures, and we are awaiting the implementation of the next two levels to further reduce and reuse.”

Each level comprises nine sustainability categories: energy, recycling, waste reduction, purchasing, outreach and production, events and meetings, transportation, kitchens and break rooms, and publications. Each category has a checklist of certain criteria to meet and each level makes the office "greener." Certification is bestowed upon those who complete the checklist at each level.

“The program is a simple way to look at everyday office activities and see how they affect our environment," said Susan Dale, a Lower Burrell resident. "It is exciting to be part of the first department at the campus to receive the Green Paws certificate.” 

As the first green office on campus, Academic Affairs is challenging other departments and offices to form green teams and make Penn State New Kensington a "green" campus. Green teams are groups of faculty or staff volunteering to take specific actions to help their organization (college, department, building, etc.) operate in a more efficient, innovative, and healthy way. The teams work in conjunction with the Green Paws program to earn certificates of achievement. Although joining a group can be more fun and rewarding, individuals can earn certification by completing the checklist on their own.

“While individual conservation efforts may seem insignificant, a campus-wide effort will have a noticeable impact on our campus and the local township," said Herstek, who holds an associate degree and will earn a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership in the fall. “We challenge all offices and departments on campus to become “greener”. 

Jason Bush, director of business and finance, has approved the formation of an official campus green team. Herstek is organizing the new campus committee and hopes to be a "completely 'green' campus by fall.” 

"We look forward to working with other departments and sharing ideas about reducing costs in our daily work," said Dale, whose father, Jack, was a member of the campus' first graduating class in 1960.

Green teams aren't the first sustainability initiatives at the New Kensington campus. The continuing effort of the greening of the campus has been underway since 2008. Recently, three environmentally friendly water bottle refilling stations were installed in selected locations around campus. The new drinking fountains, known as hydration stations, are expected to decrease the use of plastic bottles, and alleviate the amount of trash that winds up in landfills.

Three years ago, "Going Green" was implemented with single stream recycling. Working in conjunction with the Westmoreland Cleanways Program, the campus provides a fast, easy and efficient way to recycle without the hassle of sorting recycled materials. Single stream recycling allows end-users to discard plastics, paper, and cans into one container. Green and blue containers are located in high-traffic areas throughout the campus. Dumpsters are located behind the Athletics Center and in the lower parking lot behind the Science and Technology Building.

Penn State has been the leader in sustainability initiatives among colleges and universities. The Campus Sustainability Office, established in 2008, promotes and ensures environmentally-safe activity at Penn State. Its initiatives protect and enhance the financial, human, and ecological resources of the University, and the planet.

For information on joining the campus green team, contact Herstek at 724-334-6032 or rah32@psu.edu via e-mail.

For more on green teams, visit http://www.green.psu.edu/youCanDo/greenTeams.asp

For more on the Green Paws program, visit http://www.green.psu.edu/youCanDo/green_paws_about_final.asp

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