This winter, 13 McGill offices embarked on a journey to enhance workplace sustainability practices by participating in the University’s Sustainable Workplace Certification program. From reducing waste to increasing community connections, these offices exemplify that impactful change stems from teamwork.
Desautels Infrastructure Team
Number of team members: 6
It takes commitment, teamwork, creativity, and positivity to achieve each level of Sustainable Workplace Certification, and the Desautels Infrastructure Team wields these qualities in abundance. Originally led by Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Wesley McCoy to Gold-level certification, and then by Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Alex Aiken, the Desautels Infrastructure Team is the third office in McGill history to attain a Platinum-level certification.
Aiken recounted his team’s experience in earning this title: “The entire team was excited and on board to push to the highest possible level to challenge and motivate the Faculty [of Management], and we feel we have both earned serious bragging rights, but we have also set the bar to the highest level for others to join us at Platinum. This will not be the end of our push for sustainability as the team is heavily committed to finding areas where we can make a positive change to help the entire Faculty adopt more sustainable practices. There are future projects that are in the ideation phase, as well as projects that are being piloted currently which will be expanded as we evaluate the success for a full implementation.”
Among many actions, the Desautels Infrastructure Team has paid to offset their already-low carbon emissions, while they have also incorporated sustainability objectives into the Performance Dialogues and are working to add a compost stream to all waste stations throughout the Armstrong Building. Congratulations to the Desautels Infrastructure Team, with a big congrats to Wesley McCoy in particular as the Faculty’s champion in sustainability, for achieving the highest level of Sustainable Workplace Certification.
Desautels Academic Affairs Office
Number of team members: 3
“It is part of our Faculty’s goal to be 100 per cent sustainable with at least gold certification for each of the teams. It has become a friendly competition between the different areas in the faculty,” said the Desautels Academic Affairs Office on what drove them to achieve Gold Sustainable Workplace Certification.
They are already planning to achieve Platinum certification in the upcoming year by sharing sustainable practices during their meetings at least once a week. They have also taken courses on achieving a healthy home office, integrated ergonomic practices in their workspaces, ensured their website and workplace are accessible, and committed to incorporating at least a five-minute walk or yoga session three times a week to promote well-being and encourage a well-defined work-life balance.
International Student Services
Number of team members: 7
The International Student Services office strives to lead by example and make changes that create positive impacts.
“Our office would like to show our International Student population that we care for sustainability. ISS is a very hard-working office that would like to leave the world a better place,” said Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Samantha Parasuco.
While the office already uses sustainable cleaning products, ISS is now looking to switch to a zero-waste refill model for their cleaning needs. Furthering their commitment to reducing waste, ISS works with their coffee distributor to ensure that their K-Cups are recycled, and the office also checks the S2 basement inventory first before buying new furniture. The office’s Social Committee organizes breaks and celebrations that add an essential element of fun, which continues to build a motivated ISS team.
HR (Workday Team)
Number of team members: 30
Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Christine Khatchadourian, a member of the Human Resources (Workday) expressed her team’s continued dedication as they attained Silver-level certification: “Sustainability remains a core focus of the office’s operations. Our team is still engaging in practices like recycling, energy conservation, or sustainable commuting. Among our individual sustainable practices: Paperless communication is encouraged among our team members, we drink tap water at the office, cutlery and dishware are reusable in our office and we all make sure that the energy-saving functions on all our work-related electronic devices are turned on.”
Maintaining their Bronze-level achievements, the team secured their Silver-level certification by incorporating actions such as centralizing their office supplies in one location, using Microsoft Accessibility Checker, as well as by signing up for the McGill Office of Sustainability’s newsletter. With 30 people on the Human Resources (Workday) team, these actions are making tangible changes on campus and helping to transform the way we think about the resources we use.
IT Services (Human Resources)
Number of team members: 4
Members of the IT (Human Resources) team have worked to create a motivated and optimistic office, reflected by their achievement of Silver-level certification. Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Michelle Seymour shared “Everyone is motivated to participate in the challenge of change to create, to encourage and motivate others towards a greener future.”
Avoiding the use of single-serve coffee machines, sharing McGill’s Climate & Sustainability Strategy 2020-2025 in their newsletter, and organizing a costume contest and holiday brunch were several actions that advanced the office from Bronze-level to Silver-level certification. The team’s extra effort to turn off lights on in unoccupied rooms further demonstrates their dedication to making McGill more sustainable.
Desautels Faculty of Management – Dean’s Office
Number of team members: 25
As a program with a long-term vision, maintaining and progressing through each certification level is inherent to the Sustainable Workplace Certification process. Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Jessica Paduano explained how the now Silver-level certified Desautels Faculty of Management – Dean’s Office approaches the program, “Our team’s dedication to sustainability and continuous improvement is what drives us to keep pushing for higher levels of certification. We’re motivated by the challenge of bettering our workplace and the positive impact our actions can have on the environment. Plus, maintaining our certification ensures we stay accountable and up-to-date with the latest green practices.”
To reach Silver-level certification, the Desautels Faculty of Management – Dean’s Office has set up inventories of recycled office supplies and repurposed furniture to ensure usable materials do not go to waste, while they have also cut their electronic waste by bringing their used batteries to a collection bin, available to both students and staff, in Bronfman Building. Such actions algin this 25-person team to the Desautel’s Faculty of Management’s Sustainable Workplace objectives.
Innovation and Partnerships
Number of team members: 30
Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Filipe Werneck, of the Innovation and Partnerships office of the Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation), reflected on leading his office to achieve Bronze-level certification, “When I started my new role at Innovation and Partnerships in early 2023, I realized I could inspire others to do better. Sustainability at McGill is already part of the organizational culture and if we take time to think upon it, we realize that as an organization we have already achieved a lot. At the same time, we want to remain at the forefront, and we know there is still enormous need for change.”
Filipe and his team of 30 staff members are certainly contributing to creating a more sustainable ‘organizational culture’ at McGill. Using the Docusign electronic service to remain paperless, setting their monitors to turn off automatically once their laptops are unplugged, filtering eco-friendly options on McGill MarketPlace (MMP), and joining the Staff Gardens program this past summer solidified this team’s place among McGill’s sustainable workplaces.
Ingram School of Nursing
Number of team members: 5
Despite the word ‘work’ being in the title of the Sustainable Workplace Certification program, the push for change can come from students. Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Catherine-Anne Miller described how the Ingram School of Nursing joined the program, “The impetus for pursuing certification arose from the passionate advocacy from our student body. Dedicated members of the McGill Nurses for Planetary Health presented this initiative to the ISoN [Ingram School of Nursing] school council. Although we were already engaged in creating a more sustainable environment, their passion and engagement served as the catalyst that inspired us to embark on this formal certification process.”
Inspired by students, the faculty and staff at the Ingram School of Nursing have achieved various actions to bring them to Bronze-level certification, including having multiple members of the team attend the Sustainable Procurement 101 training session, encouraging lunch breaks in their ‘healthy workplace strategic plan’, and also using reusable dishware and utensils and the Plate Club during an event. The team conveys their work on these actions through the ‘green nudges’ framework.
Desautels EMBA McGill-HEC Program
Number of team members: 5
With a strong record of promoting sustainability in a joint EMBA program offered by McGill and HEC, the Desautels EMBA McGill-HEC Program decided to align their office’s sustainable values with their own practices. Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Ariene Even explained, “Our program has included a module on Sustainability since 2013. Since 2022, we have been working to include issues of sustainability in all modules of our program in addition to the module dedicated to sustainability. Since 2014, we have offered scholarships for Managers of Indigenous Origin. We thought it was time for our office to catch up with our program.”
The recently Bronze-level certified team is certainly catching up with their innovative program. By uploading and sharing an online drive with each other to avoid printing, by ensuring the team and their students recycle properly, and by bringing in dishware and utensils from their own homes to use at the office, the Desautels EMBA McGill-HEC Program has set a clear path for progressing through and upholding the certification process.
Desautels Human Resources Team
Number of team members: 9
Andrew Bennett, Sustainable Workplace Ambassador for the Desautels Human Resources Team conveyed, “This being the bronze level, it was eye opening to realize how small and easy many of the changes were to make. If a small change is made by a large number of people, the impact can be large!”
The Desautels Human Resources Team has implemented a number of technology-based actions to attain Bronze-level certification, such as ensuring shutting off monitors and computers when possible, avoiding purchasing devices with batteries (favoring those with wires, which do not need to be replaced), as well as working with the Desautels Infrastructure Team to assess whether no-longer-needed electronics can be reused or recycled. The office has also created a shared library, with which staff members can share books among each other.
IT Application Services – Budget, Finance & Human Resources
Number of team members: 11
The motivations to seek Sustainable Workplace Certification can be as multifaceted as the concept of sustainability itself. Leading the IT Application Services – Budget, Finance & Human Resources team, Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Melvin Lising noted, “Our team pursued the McGill Sustainable Workplace Bronze Certification to validate our knowledge on the subject, stay current, and boost our professional and personal growth. The certification enhances our credibility and ultimately improving our reputation and the quality of our work.”
By turning off lights, monitors, and computers, pinning up posters about proper recycling habits in the office’s kitchen, avoiding single-used dishware and utensils, and encouraging each team member to attend at least one Organizational Development workshop offered by the McGill Office of Sustainability, the IT Application Services – Budget Finance & Human Resources team has started their certification journey off strong.
Desautels Faculty of Management – PhD in Management Office
Number of team members: 2
With only two staff members, the Desautels Faculty of Management – PhD Program in Management Office is part of the Desautel’s larger push have the full Faculty completely certified. Reflecting on the certification process, Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Danae Nika conveyed, “We all have been trying to find ways to be more sustainable in our everyday lives at home, as sustainability is part of our values. For that reason, we welcomed and embraced the opportunity to extend and develop even more of our sustainability practices in our workplace.”
The PhD in Management Office organizes their files electronically, shuts down their equipment when possible, and conducts daily check-ins with each other to make sure they take their breaks. Beyond these and other actions that brought them to Bronze-level certification, the team also intends to make an indoor garden in their office.
Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship
Number of team members: 6
Members of the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship team recognize the inherent connections between our individual actions and the collective effects they have. Sustainable Workplace Ambassador Konstantina Ntokorou explained, “Throughout our programming, we consistently supported change-makers within our ecosystem, empowering them to address the major global challenges of our time. As we transition into a new space destined to serve as a hub for the McGill’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we are dedicated to model our commitment and champion more sustainable practices.”
Achieving Bronze-level certification, the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has scheduled team lunches, held a team meeting dedicated to thinking through the Sustainable Workplace Certification program, and set all their electronics to relevant energy-saving modes. The Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship’s actions are essential to achieving the Desautel’s goal of reaching Faculty-wide Sustainable Workplace Certification.
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.