Green Office logoIdeas and suggestions on how to implement the criteria for Green Office Certification and other related resources.


Reminders to turn off lights

Printed reminders in the form of light switch plate covers or signs are a great way to encourage office members to turn off lights when not in use. The links below will allow you to download "Bark! Bark! Go Dark! plate covers or signs that can be printed out and installed on or near light switches.

  • Bark! Bark! Go Dark! plate covers must be printed on Post-It adhesive paper (reposititionable) to avoid maintenance issues.
  • Reminder template may be printed full-page and posted near light switches or doors. 

Have dimmers/motion sensors installed

  1. Choose appropriate locations for motion sensors, such as conference rooms, supply closets, or bathrooms.
  2. Contact UW Facilities
  • You may fill out a work request, or request a quote on this site:
  • Note that your department may be required to fund the installation of dimmers/motion sensors, as the University does not have funds allocated for this.

Turning off vending machine lights

  1. Contact UW Vending and find out if your vending machine lights are able to be turned off.

ENERGY STAR/EPEAT rated products

ENERGY Star and EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) products are designed to save energy, and meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about these products visit the following websites:

To determine whether one of your tools or appliances is ENERGY STAR certified, look for an ENERGY STAR label. To determine whether it is EPEAT rated, search the EPEAT product registry

Is your building LEED certified?

Visit our sustainability map to see if your building is LEED certified!

Additional resources:

  • Close the blinds - especially in older buildings, closing the blinds or curtains helps insulate the building, reducing the amount of heat lost at night.  
  • UW-IT offers green computing with tips on technology recycling, teleconferencing and more
  • Learn more about the UW's energy performance on our energy dashboard.

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Green meetings

Green Meetings in this program refer to smaller departmental meetings, not large conferences or catered events. See our green events guide for more information on larger events.

Online meeting agendas, information, and notes

The easiest way to move to paperless meetings is to store all meeting agendas, informational documents, and notes in an online website or shared spaces, such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Team Drive, SharePoint, Wiki etc. Before meetings, a link to the relevant folder or documents can be sent out and after the meeting, participants will be able to go back to the folder to add or view notes.

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Paper conservation

Migration plan for non-duplex printers/copiers

Many printers and copiers on campus are operated under contract, and cannot be immediately replaced because they do not have duplex printing capability. A migration plan identifies these printers and their contract expiration dates, and commits to replacing these machines with duplex capable machines when possible. Managed Print Services is UW's organizational copier/printer management and has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. Contact them for an assessment of your departmental needs.

Printing tracking

Please check with UW-IT about your office's printing options. Depending on your printer/contract, a tracking website may be readily available, a tracking program can be set up, or you may track your printing information through your billing. If your printer does not have this capability, you may have to manually count reams used each month to track paper use. 

Shared/Network printing

A network printer is connected to the Internet and allows multiple computers to print to it. Having a network printer in the office will reduce the need for desktop printers, thus saving energy, maintenance costs and resources. IT Connect can help you set up a network printer in your office. 

Turning stationery into notepads

Creative Communications can create notepads out of your outdated stationery for a fee. Your old stationery should be brought or sent (via campus mail, attention: note pads) to the Creative Communications building with instructions, contact information, and a budget number. Some Copy Centers on campus may also work with you to create notepads. You can choose the size and thickness of your notepads. Contact Creative Communications with questions.

Please be cautious with the paper that is turned into notepads and be sure that it does not contain sensitive information.

Other paper conservation resources

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Publications & marketing communications

Online documents

Instead of printing paper copies of publications, consider switching to online versions, such as sharing files via Microsoft OneDrive or using MailChimp for virtual newsletters. 

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Supply exchange area

Consider setting up an area for common shared office supplies, such as a supply closet, mail room, or printer area. You may even want to set up a shared supply station for your entire building, and share excess supplies to minimize waste in purchasing and encourage the other two R's - reduce and reuse!

Toner cartridge recycling

UW Recycling collects a variety of items as part of its printer/copier cartridges and components stream. UW's recycling vendor refills cartridges for resale, returns them to the original manufacturer for refilling or, when refilling is not possible, recycles the materials. UW Recycling has a list of toner cartridge drop-off locations and advice on how to recycle.

UW Surplus

All items purchased with University funds that are no longer needed by a department, whether they are in working or non-working condition, must be transferred to UW Surplus for proper disposal. UW Surplus will resell items that are working, and properly recycle or dispose of non-working items. By checking UW Surplus first for "new" furniture or other items, your office could save money and reuse.

Buy in bulk to minimize packaging

Buying in bulk by consolidating orders reduces the amount of packing materials used for shipping overall, the packaging for individual units of the products you buy, reduces delivery truck emissions by reducing delivery frequency, and saves time for the person in your office placing orders. Consider setting up a request form for office supplies and designating a day of the week for purchasing, waiting until there is significant enough need for supplies before placing orders. Setting up a coffee club or similar groups that orders larger amounts of materials to share is another great way to make buying in bulk easier.

More purchasing resources

  • The eProcurement website offers general information about Green Purchasing at UW.
  • Keeney's (an official sponsor of the Green Office Competition and UW supplier) offers a Green Office Essentials guide, a Green Breakroom Products guide, and a curated Green Office favorites list (in the eProcurement catalog, choose 'Green Office Items' from the dropdown in the side section titled 'MyFavorites').

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Recycling/Composting/Waste Reduction

Posters for Collection Bins

UW Recycling offers pritable posters for: 

UW Recycling has many other posters, including signs for special events and item-specific recycling (cardboard,, wood waste) on their website

Bagit stations

In most shared office/lab spaces on campus, recyclable office paper is collected in Bagits, which are reusable polypropylene bags that have handles and are held open on stands, which hold either one or two bag-its. Bagits are to be used in spaces such as labs, copy rooms, mail rooms, and shared offices; Bagits are not permitted in individual offices. Learn more or request a Bag-it station from UW Recycling.


UW Recycling offers a mini (3-quart) desk-side waste bin that is self service, just like your personal recycling bin. This program, known as MiniMax, is meant to build awareness around recycling, promote personal responsibility for waste generation, and allow custodians to direct their time to essential cleaning tasks. The mini bins are also unlined, which will significantly reduce the number of plastic liner bags going to the landfill.

Collection bins

If your public areas, conference rooms, or kitchen/break rooms do not have waste, mixed paper, and mixed containers collection bins, contact UW Recycling at They will perform a site assessment and determine the appropriate bins for the area.

Compost resources

Styrofoam recycling

UW Recycling recycles Styrofoam on campus. Learn more about the procedures:

E.Media recycling

Post the location of your nearest e.Media recycling bin near your public area bins or recycling center.

Plastic film recycling

UW Recycling recycles plastic film, which includes clean plastic bags, bubble wrap, air pillows (deflated), and shrink wrap. This is a self-serve recycling program and staff are responsible for putting their plastic film into the grey plastic film toter at or near the building’s loading dock or service entrance.

More recycling, compost & waste diversion resources:

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UW Human Resources has a policies for telework and remote work. UW-IT offers resources for connecting to the UW phone system from home or other off-campus locations.

Conference calls

Utilizing conference calls is a way to reduce traveling emissions, costs, and time. IT Connect conferencing services can help with audio/videoconferencing and other conferencing needs.

Secure bike parking

Secure bike parking entails having either bike rooms or bike lockers and secure enclosures. Transportation Services has maps of protected bike parking on campus and more information on their their biking page. Our Sustainability Map lists all bike repair stations on campus.


The U-PASS provides faculty, staff and students with a variety of low-cost transportation options—from buses, commuter train service and light rail, to vanpooling and discounted impromptu carpooling. With a U-PASS, it’s easy to save money and tread softly through the environment by choosing alternatives to driving alone. Or consider “mixing up your commute”—using an alternative when possible, driving when necessary. As a bonus, many local businesses offer discounts to U-PASS holders!


The UCAR is a conveniently located and economically priced Fleet Services rental vehicle available for hourly rentals. The UCAR program is dedicated to supporting the short term transportation needs of the UW community for education, research, outreach and business. Any UW member with a valid UW NetID and driver's license is able to reserve and access a UCAR 24/7.

Alternative commute options

Alternative commute options include biking, taking mass transit, carpooling, walking or any combinations of these. Take a quick survey at your staff meeting, send out a poll, or simply go around and ask your colleagues about their commuting habits. The higher the percentage of your office that uses alternative commute options, the more points your office can get.

More transportation resources

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Sharing best practices

Do you have great ideas on ways for your office to become more sustainable? Sharing these ideas at staff meetings is a great way to increase your impact. It does not have to take a lot of time - even one minute per meeting can spread the sustainability message. Give an update, share new ideas, or announce a reminder to keep sustainability on everyone's radar.

UW Sustainability Pledge

Taking the UW Sustainability Pledge is a way to show personal commitment to sustainability by committing to simple daily actions. Members of your office may not know about the pledge, but with a little communication and some coordination, you can easily earn this point. Consider adding the pledge to your new employee orientation information. Inform your colleagues that if 50% of your office completes the pledge and forwards the confirmation email to you, it will boost your Green Office Certification score.

UW Sustainability Action Plan

The UW's Sustainability Action Plan was adopted in 2020 with 10 targets to work toward over the next five years, with actions toward these targets updated annually. 

Green cleaning supplies

Green cleaning supplies lack toxic chemicals or VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are hazardous to human health as well as the environment. In addition, if the product is manufactured in an eco-friendly process and is biodegradable then it would be considered "green." Look for products with a GreenSeal or EcoLabel Certified and Tested label. UW Custodial Services has won multiple awards for their green cleaning practices.
*Ask your supplier for a list of eco-friendly cleaning products.

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Additional resources

UW Sustainability dashboard

The UW Sustainability dashboard displays the sustainability measures tracked around campus as part of Climate Action Plan goals.

UW Sustainability map

The UW Sustainability map displays many of the sustainability features on the Seattle campus. Find which buildings are LEED Certified, where the Green Offices are located, which buildings have green roofs or your nearest bike repair station.

Green your office on Pinterest

A collection of ideas and products to help green your office, collected together in a virtual pinboard.

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Innovative ideas

There are so many different ways to be sustainable; it would not be fair to limit this certification program to the ideas thought up by the Green Office Committee. If your office is doing something different from anything listed above, you can get bonus points for that. Here are some ideas that the Committee thought of, and some that were submitted by other offices while applying for certification. For a complete list of submitted innovations, view the certified offices.

  • Reusing paper with print on only one side through a "One Side Clean" collection box
  • Patio Display Gardens with native plants or plants that provide food
  • Having a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program deliver organic produce to the workplace
  • Self-serviced recycling programs for bottle caps/plastic lids, pop tabs, & eyeglasses
  • Adopt a Hallway Program - Have a set time or specific person to turn off the lights in the hallways at the end of the day
  • Share office space for part time employees
  • The UW Sustainability office is supplied with furniture manufactured sustainably and composed of a high percentage of recycled content
  • The Southwest Maintenance Zone office fabricated their reception desk form old furniture
  • Shared bicycles are provided for employees of the Southwest Maintenance Zone to use for traveling to meetings

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