Turning the Department of English green and gold

By Emily Voytecek

The Department of English is making great strides toward implementing sustainability plans and achieving goals. The department recently garnered an 86 percent on Florida State University’s Green Office Certification Program conducted this November, qualifying the department as a Gold office.

Business Manager Clare Harrison and Administrative Associate Dina Uscio have led the way for the department. Harrison, who has a personal interest in sustainability, says they made it “a goal this year to get the English department certified.” The gold certification lasts two years.

The FSU Green Office certification program is part of FSU’s commitment to integrate sustainable living practices into all FSU activities, according to FSU’s sustainable campus website. FSU is attempting to incorporate new practices in four areas: Climate Action, Waste Minimization, Resource Stewardship, and Education for Sustainability, all as part of Goal VI in FSU’s Strategic Plan.

In the Climate Action section, the department scored 14 out of 20 available points. Faculty, graduate students, and staff members have been successful in several practices, including keeping lights off, utilizing natural light, and switching electronic devices from screen savers to sleep mode. Harrison says the department will continue to pursue a better score, such as using smart power strips to decrease energy consumption and educating employees on sustainable transportation services.

Waste Minimization and Resource Stewardship are two areas where the department has done significantly well, with scores of 22/23 and 12/13, respectively. More members have been successful in emphasizing the use of electronic documents, keeping the default printer settings to double-sided and collecting electronic waste, using energy-efficient equipment, and participating in the Take Back the Tap campaign (emphasizing reusable water bottles). The department continues to stock common areas with environmentally friendly equipment, place multiple recycling areas around the building, and efforts are made to reduce overused resources: “We use recycled content paper, [and] we only purchase office supplies on an as-needed basis. We only buy what we are going to use,” Harrison says.

Still, Harrison continues to push for further education of employees, students, and faculty who interact in the Williams Building.

“We are trying to get a little more information out to anybody who comes into the Williams Building, using our bulletin boards,” Harrison says. “We want to spread the word outside of our immediate circle to anybody who encounters the building, to see that we make sustainable choices and to influence their choices.”

English Professor and department Chair Gary Taylor says Harrison and Uscio have been successfully taking the actions needed to reach their goals.

“We don't just talk about a more sustain able world—we actually do the work,” he says.

Click here for more information about FSU's sustainability program.

Emily Voytecek is a junior majoring in English on the editing, writing, and media track, with a minor in information technology.