Newly certified sustainable workplaces at McGill: Summer 2023

Improving accessibility, rethinking old habits, and hosting a clothing swap were among the actions taken by new and returning sustainably certified workplaces

With the academic year wrapped up, many offices took advantage of the summer calm to reflect on their habits and renew their Sustainable Workplace Certification. Others were newcomers to the program or adopted new actions to reach a higher level. In all cases, the process proved to be a helpful reminder that sustainability is a lifelong journey with plenty of opportunities to improve and collaborate as a team.

Teaching and Learning Services – Gold

Number of team members: 32

The team at Teaching and Learning Services has not shied away from learning opportunities on the road to Gold-level certification. This includes inviting an Indigenous Faith Keeper to help deepen their knowledge and understanding of their interconnections with nature.

“We are continuously reviewing and making adjustments to our internal processes to promote social, environmental and economic sustainability,” said Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Nancy St-Pierre. “In particular, TLS has created an internal EDI Working Group which aims to ensure not only equitable access to our materials and events, but to take advantage of the momentum to reduce barriers in our work.”

Additionally, the team has targeted daily behaviours, such as switching to a Fair Trade coffee supplier and addressing accessibility needs when hosting workshops.

Geographic Information Centre – Silver

Number of team members: 9

After two years of Silver-level certification, many sustainable practices have become a natural part of daily life for the team at the Geographic Information Centre. Nonetheless, renewing their certification proved to be a good refresher. Among other things, the team has exclusively sourced second-hand furniture and their director attends videoconferences, when possible, to cut down on travel.

“We want to do our part to help the University reach its climate goals,” said Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Meghan Ewing, adding that the team also has its own goal to make the office as sustainable as possible. “It’s what’s best for everyone. We’re all happy to do our part and work toward a better future.”

McGill Institute for Aerospace Engineering & McGill Institute for Advanced Materials – Silver

Number of team members: 2

Building on the momentum of their recent Bronze-level certification, this duo focused on day-to-day accessibility considerations as part of their effort to reach Silver.

“We had a lot of fun learning about the Microsoft Accessibility Checker,” said Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Chloe Hedley. “We’ve been using it to complete our annual reports and communications documents, and we’ll also be extending this knowledge to our website content and UX.”

Given that their institutes focus on sustainable innovation, the team felt it was important that their actions at work reflect these values. Among other things, they actively participate in office supply and furniture exchanges and have taken the time to learn more about various on-campus initiatives related to waste reduction and carbon neutrality.

“We feel resilient in our will to be more sustainable and influence others,” Hedley added.

McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life – Bronze

Number of team members: 4

When the McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL) sought out sustainable certification back in 2021, their commitment to the cause was clear: “Caring for our fellow humans is a core value for MORSL,” said Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Carlene Gardner. “We believe that even a small office like ours can make a difference and that every effort counts in achieving sustainability.”

This sentiment continues to motivate the team, which has been recertified at the Bronze-level for maintaining habits such as limiting their printing, never relying on single-use water bottles, and turning off their computers when not in use.

Faculty of Law Admissions – Bronze

Number of team members: 4

As they made their way through the checklist, the Faculty of Law Admissions team realized many of the actions required to achieve Bronze-level sustainable workplace certification were already part of their standard practices. This included recycling toner and printer cartridges, purchasing sustainable office supplies, and avoiding the use of disposable dishes and cutlery during meals and coffee breaks. The office also has two wellness advisors on site for students in need of mental health support. Plus, the team hosted a clothing swap in June to encourage sustainable fashion choices.

The Sustainable Workplace Certification program proposes environmentally, economically, and socially responsible actions to inspire sustainable changes at work and at home. Learn more on the Office of Sustainability’s website.