Newly certified sustainable offices at McGill: Fall 2021

More than 70 McGill staff members commit to a new year of new sustainable habits through the Sustainable Workplace Certification program

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

For four teams at McGill, the Sustainable Workplace Certification program gave them a jumpstart, providing the space and resources to bolster their commitments to sustainability, both at work and at home. From mindful reflections about 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

Sample Bronze-level action: Eliminating waste by using reusable dishware and purchasing reusable coffee pods for machines.

The second group within 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.

While working at home, Di Dio says their team has seen how efficient they can be while using fewer office supplies, thus reducing paper and electricity use.

“It provided more incentive to keep this up,” she says.

Since beginning the certification process, Di Dio says, “the team’s response is welcoming, and the changes that were implemented are easy to follow.”

“Our morale has been more positive, and engagement is increasing. We are learning to think of ways to better our lives by not using our cars and walking more at work, as well as at home.”

Desautels Faculty of Management Masters Office – Bronze

Number of team members: 19+

Sustainability goal: Work toward achieving gold-level certification in 2022

The Desautels Faculty of Management Masters Office is walking the walk.

“One of the transversal themes in [our faculty’s] strategic plan is to champion sustainability,” says Wesley McCoy, Sustainable Workplace Ambassador for the Desautels Faculty of Management Masters Office. “Our team was motivated to seek 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 “fostered an awareness of the small measures that can be taken that have a large impact on our sustainability.”

The Office, he continues, has responded positively to the certification, and worked together collaboratively through the process

The team now hopes to continue reducing their ecological footprint while adopting more sustainable behaviour as they work towards achieving a silver-level certification, before hopefully moving onto gold and platinum.

Office of Investments (OOI) – Gold

Number of team members: 12

Sample Gold-level action: Attend two workshops hosted by the Equity Team.

Seeking certification just made sense for the Office of Investments.

“Sustainability is a priority for the University. Moreover, the OOI incorporates environmental, social and governance considerations in investment processes,” explains Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Victoria Mei-Zummo. “As such, implementing further sustainability practices in our daily work is a natural continuation of McGill’s collective efforts and the work we already do in responsible investment.”

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

She explains that members of the OOI try to embed sustainability into their daily lives, for example by hosting a sustainability-themed gift exchange or encouraging reflections around inclusivity in day-to-day conversations. Through the certification process, the team continues to share tips as they work on implementing best practices.

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

IT Communications – Platinum

Number of team members: 29

Sample Platinum-level action: Include sustainability in each member’s Performance Dialogue, responding to IT’s unit objective for 2021.

As the first team to reach platinum-level Sustainable Workplace Certification, the IT Communications team made significant strides in embedding sustainability into their lives, at McGill and beyond, over the past year. What keeps them motivated?

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

The team says they repeat the Dr. Seuss quote during certification meetings and in the onboarding process as a reminder as to why such dedicated efforts are valuable.

Sustainable Workplace Ambassadors Uma Viswanathan and Amanda Morris wrote that they’ve 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, that impacted our entire floor, beyond our participating team.”

As they move forward 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 special projects and 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 in improving our habits: There is no end of sustainability–we can always do better.”

The Sustainable Workplace Certification program includes environmentally, economically, and socially aware action items to inspire sustainable changes at work and at home. Learn more here.