Newly Certified Sustainable Offices at McGill: Fall 2021

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The new year often brings with it the desire to adopt new habits.

For four teams at McGill, the Sustainable Workplace Certification Program has given them a boost, providing them with the space and resources to reinforce their commitments to sustainability, both at work and at home. From conscious reflections on inclusivity to reducing reliance on single-use items, our newly certified teams have embraced sustainability in all its forms.

Financial Services (Student Accounts) – Bronze

Number of team members: 11

Bronze Level Action Example: Eliminate waste by using reusable tableware and buying reusable coffee pods for machines.

The second group in Financial Services to achieve bronze-level certification, the Student Accounts team was motivated by their colleagues at 3465 Durocher, says Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Luisa Di Dio.

By working from home, Di Dio says his team has seen how efficient they can be while using fewer office supplies, reducing paper and electricity consumption.

“It provided more incentive to keep going, she says.

Since the certification process began, Di Dio says, “the response from the team has been welcoming and the changes that have been implemented are easy to follow.”

“Our morale is more positive and engagement is increasing. We learn to think of ways to improve our lives by not using our cars and walking more to work, as well as home.

Desautels Faculty of Management Master’s Office – Bronze

Number of team members: 19+

Sustainability goal: Work towards achieving gold level certification in 2022

The Desautels Faculty of Management’s master’s office is following suit.

“One of the cross-cutting themes of [our faculty’s] strategic plan is to champion sustainability,” said Wesley McCoy, Sustainable Workplace Ambassador for the Desautels Faculty of Management Masters Office. “Our team was motivated to pursue certification to raise awareness of this program within the faculty and to leverage our certification to challenge other units in our faculty to work toward certification.”

McCoy explains that the certification process has “promoted an awareness of the small steps that can be taken that have a big impact on our sustainability.”

The Bureau, he continues, responded positively to the certification and worked collaboratively throughout the process.

The team now hopes to continue reducing its environmental footprint while adopting more sustainable behavior as it strives to achieve silver-level certification, before hopefully moving on to gold and platinum.

Investment Office (OOI) – Gold

Number of team members: 12

Gold Level Action Example: Attend two workshops led by the Equity Team.

The request for certification made sense to the Office of Investments.

“Sustainability is a priority for the University. Additionally, OOI integrates environmental, social and governance considerations into investment processes,” says Victoria Mei-Zummo, Sustainable Workplace Ambassador. “As such, implementing new sustainability practices into our daily work is a natural continuation of McGill’s collective efforts and the work we are already doing in responsible investing.

As a result of seeking certification and moving up through the ranks – the team achieved silver-level certification last February – Mei-Zummo says they have a heightened awareness of the breadth of topics included in sustainability, “from individual carbon footprints to gender diversity,” for example.

She explains that OOI members try to integrate sustainability into their daily lives, for example by organizing a sustainability-themed gift exchange or by encouraging reflections on inclusivity in daily conversations. Throughout the certification process, the team continues to share tips while working to implement best practices.

“Overall, the team is proud to further contribute to McGill’s sustainability efforts,” says Mei-Zummo.

Computer Communications – Platinum

Number of team members: 29

Platinum Level Stock Example: Include sustainability in every member’s performance dialogue, meeting the IT unit’s goal for 2021.

As the first team to earn Platinum Sustainable Workplace certification, the IT Communications team has made significant strides in integrating sustainability into their lives, at McGill and beyond, during the last year. What motivates them?

“Unless someone like you cares a lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

The team says it repeats Dr. Seuss’s quote at certification meetings and in the onboarding process as a reminder of why such dedicated efforts are valuable.

Sustainable Workplace Ambassadors Uma Viswanathan and Amanda Morris wrote that they have observed a variety of responses to the certification process from their team members. Overall, they say they “have been pleasantly surprised by the acceptance of our sustainable changes, such as replacing single-use milk and cream pods with cartons, which have had an impact on the whole of our floor, beyond our participating team”.

As they move beyond the certification program, Viswanathan and Morris say the IT Communications team is now looking at “other opportunities to promote sustainability beyond the four levels, through projects and special initiatives, and partnering with other groups on campus.

What lesson do they have to share with other offices on campus seeking certification? “We can always do more to improve our habits: there is no end to sustainability – we can always do better.”

The Sustainable Workplace Certification Program includes environmental, economic and social action elements to inspire lasting change at work and at home. Learn more here.

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