This guide was designed for the deans office, and could be adhered to by typical UW office. It offers sustainability tips for areas including energy, water, and carbon conservation, as well as purchasing, transportation, and waste reduction.


As members of the University of Washington and the College of the Environment, we are committed to doing our part to lessen our environmental footprint and increase sustainability of the planet’s resources. Toward that end, following are the best practices that we promote in the Dean’s Office. Please read through these guidelines and follow them to the extent that you are able. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about how we can act more sustainably, contact Suzanne Zitzer (sezitzer@uw.edu), head of the CoEnv Deans Office Green Team.

Energy, Water, and Carbon Conservation

  • If you have a Mac, turn off your computer at the end of the day if you do not expect to remotely log in. If you have a PC, please do not turn off your computer at any time; rather, you can use Tivoli Endpoint Manager to manage your energy use.
  • Keep your computer’s power management settings at the UW Standard Power Profile levels or less.
  • Turn off monitors, and desktop printers and copiers at the end of the day.
  • Turn off the monitor(s) if away from the desk for more than one hour.
  • Disable screensavers as they prevent the computer from going into sleep mode.
  • Set a timer and/or use power strips with switches for turning off equipment at night including desk and kitchen appliances (i.e., printers and coffee makers) and other office appliances that use standby energy.
  • Unplug equipment that uses standby energy when away for long periods of time, such as for vacations or conferences.
  • Use Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) in all task lamps.
  • Utilize natural daylight in offices with windows, turning off unneeded overhead lighting.
  • Turn off the lights when leaving unoccupied bathrooms, meeting rooms and offices.
  • Lower blinds in the summer to keep the workspace cool and raise blinds in the winter to let in the sun’s warmth and use natural light (lowering them at the end of the day to help trap the heat at night).
  • When working late, use only the lighting needed to illuminate work areas and maintain a safe egress.
  • Minimize water use by turning off the faucet while washing hands and dishes.
  • Buy local and/or organic produce and food products when possible, to reduce your environmental footprint.
  • Consider having plants at the workstation – plants act as air filters and can absorb some pollutants. (Please be aware of your coworkers’ allergies to indoor plants before bringing in any plants to live at your workstation.)
  • Take the stairs instead of using elevators whenever possible.
  • Calculate your carbon footprint using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Carbon Footprint Calculator so that you are aware of your current impact.

Sustainable Purchasing

  • We have a supply cabinet for exchanging excess supplies such as binders, scissors, padded envelopes and file folders.
  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.
  • We have a “coffee club” which means we purchase coffee, cream and sugar in bulk rather than individual portions. Let the Green Team know if you’d like to join!
  • We consolidate supply orders so that delivery is less frequent. If you need supplies ordered, please write your request on the whiteboard on the supply cabinet or send an email to the student assistants (coenvsa@uw.edu). Specific green products we purchase include:
    • Remanufactured toner cartridges.
    • Reusable and durable supplies, such as rechargeable batteries, refillable pens and mechanical pencils.
    • Products with the maximum post-consumer recycled content available. Copy and printer paper is 100% recycled content. Other paper is unbleached, 30% – 100% post-consumer waste recycled content or Forest Stewardship Council -certified.
    • Environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
  • When requirements arise for items such as office furniture and larger equipment, we check UW Surplus Property for used items first. If purchase of new items must be made, opt for equipment that is durable and can be easily repaired.
  • When new furniture is needed, purchase Greenguard Certified furniture to ensure emissions meet acceptable Indoor Air Quality standards.

 Sustainable Commuting/Transportation

  • Work toward a sustainable commute program that avoids single-occupancy car use. Check out the ESSO transportation guide for lots of options
  • Walk, bike, take a shuttle or bus, or utilize UCAR, to get around between UW and its surrounding areas, rather than bringing your personal car to work, if it minimizes driving.
  • The Ocean Sciences Building provides accommodations for bicycle commuters, including shower facilities and covered bike parking; ask the Green Team about these facilities if you are interested.
  • Avoid unnecessary driving during the day by dining in, walking to a restaurant, grouping errands, or packing a lunch.
  • Make travel to meetings more sustainable by reducing travel when possible, utilizing a conference call line or Skype, or scheduling remote meetings back-to-back.
  • Reduce air travel whenever possible.
  • Members of the office are allowed to telecommute when possible; work with your supervisor if you are interested in this option.

 Reducing Personal Paper Use

  • Avoid printing documents or emails if possible.
  • Our printer/copier’s default setting is to duplex print (double-sided) and a tutorial is available to assist employees in their non-duplex printing needs.
  • Set your computer’s default printer settings to print on both sides of the paper.
  • Use the back of old documents to print draft documents.
  • Recycle used paper.
  • Use Catalyst, shared drive, or other electronic tools for meeting agendas and notes.
  • Use narrow margins when possible.
  • Use a small 10 point font size for printing when possible.
  • Use single or 1.5 spacing rather than double spacing when possible.
  • Remove yourself from junk mail and catalog lists by signing up with Catalog Choice.
  • Use the dishtowels provided in the kitchen, rather than paper towels, for drying your hands or wiping down surfaces.

 Sustainable Meetings

  • Send meeting agendas and information electronically. Participants can review the material electronically or print selected materials they feel they must have in hard copy.
  • If handouts are required, utilize duplex printing. If this is not possible, collect and recycle unused handouts at the end of the meeting.
  • We provide and use projectors and whiteboards in our conference rooms; please make use of these to further reduce paper use.
  • Ask presenters/speakers to use slide presentations as opposed to printed handouts and make their slide presentations available electronically to participants.
  • If available, use a laptop for notes, rather than paper. (There are multiple laptops available for check-out at the front desk of the Dean’s Office.)
  • Order catering from local, sustainability-minded organizations, and decline disposable packaging.
  • Utilize the office’s stock of reusable silverware and dishes, and filtered water pitchers (rather than bottled water) for catered meetings.

 Sustainable Communications and Marketing

  • Use email for inter-office announcements, rather than printing posters or flyers.
  • The Dean’s Office is working to make sure that most or all administrative forms used by the College of the Environment are online/digital.
  • Our office is moving toward commenting digitally on publications (i.e., through Adobe Acrobat Professional) rather than printing proofs.
  • Produce a few posters, or use paperless means, rather than mass-distributing multiple brochures or flyers, to promote an event or cause.
  • All marketing publications should be printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified or 100% recycled paper.
  • When printing publications, take into account which size of paper and printing style will be most efficient and use the least resources.
  • Use postcards to send an audience to an online publication, rather than printing and sending the publication.

 Recycling and Composting

  • The University’s recycling and composting programs (see online at uwrecycling.com) are a great resource for learning how UW is reducing waste.
  • Recycle all paper, including sticky notes, envelopes, colored paper, and newspapers in one of the many mixed paper “Bag-it” stations or mixed paper carts in the office.
  • All workstations are equipped with a self-service, desk-side “mini” waste bin and 28-quart recycling bin (i.e., MiniMax), to promote recycling the bulk of the items you no longer need.
  • Properly clean and recycle all plastic bottles and jars, dairy tubs, glass bottles and jars, milk and juice cartons, bottle caps, and aluminum cans in the office or campus cans/bottles recycle bins. (Note: bottle caps can currently only be recycled in the office kitchen – there is a container on the countertop above the waste bins.)
  • Recycle electronics appropriately, including CDs, cell phones, batteries, and computers. (There is an e-media recycling bin in the kitchen.)
  • Recycle Styrofoam (peanuts or blocks) in the bin by the Dean’s Office color printer.
  • Recycle plastic bags/film – ask the Green Team how!
  • We recycle printer cartridges – ask the Green Team how!
  • If you must use paper towels in the kitchen, compost them.
  • Utilize composting services by composting any organic or compostable material, including those smelly leftovers in the refrigerator, into the kitchen compost bin. (See the poster in the kitchen above the compost bin and ask the Green Team about questionable items.)
  • Purchase food in compostable containers and compost all of the waste.
  • Strive to reduce food waste. Do not leave food in the office fridge and forget about it until it starts to smell!
  • Approved compostable service-ware items (plates, cups, and utensils) are available for staff use instead of non-compostable service-ware items for times when reusable alternatives are not appropriate.
  • Our office promotes the use of reusable/durable food containers and discourages the use of foil, plastic wrap, and other disposable food packaging.
  • Carry a reusable coffee mug or water bottle instead of using disposable or compostable cups or buying bottled water.
  • Send to UW Surplus all items purchased with University funds that are no longer needed by the department, whether they are in working or non-working condition.

 Engaging in the Sustainability Conversation