Green Labs and Green Offices programs promote sustainability through certification

                                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit: Simon Fraser University


Simon Fraser University has committed to reduce energy use on campus not only through upgrades and technological changes, but also by encouraging energy conservation among colleagues and students. SFU is participating in BC Hydro’s Workplace Conservation Awareness (WCA) program, which draws upon the power of employee engagement to save energy and to establish a permanent culture of conservation within an organization.


"The Green Labs and Office program empowers staff, faculty and students to think critically about their space and how to reduce its environmental impact. In the participating buildings, we have seen an overall decrease in energy use, of which the behavioural savings has been a significant part."

--Landon Hoyt, SFU's Community Engagement Coordinator

The Challenge

As a part of SFU’s Sustainability Strategic Plan, energy consumption is among the many challenges faced by the sustainability team in addressing the high impacts that offices and labs create on campus. These high impacts however, provide great opportunity to foster awareness and encourage behavioural change among staff, faculty and students and bring people together to create tangible and sustainable change for SFU.

The Campaign

SFU has created two programs to reduce the environmental impact of both offices and labs.  The Green Labs Certification Program encourages lab managers and users to make minor changes in lab practices saving money and reducing their carbon footprint. Participating labs receive support and acknowledgement for positive contributions to SFU’s sustainability, through the completion of a list of requirements specified by the certification program.

The Green Office Program recognizes the efforts of staff and faculty to “green” their daily activities through a certification.  Participating offices receive acknowledgement for positive contributions of SFU’s sustainability by completing a set list of requirements specified by the certification program.

The Green Labs and Green Offices programs were expanded in 2013/14 to include all science labs and more office areas. Buy in and consultation with the Environmental Health and Research Safety Department was a key part of expanding the program, as well as reaching out to the Sustainability Ambassadors team.

Cerified lab and office members were invited to a celebratory lunch in December where they were recognised by the University President and administration.

Promotional materials to encourage labs and offices to participate included:

  • Program re-branding
  • A launch event in February with materials and follow up
  • Promotional cards
  • Fume hood stickers
  • Social media  promotions

The Results

SFU hosted very successful launch events which included almost all labs at the school, and resulted in new lab and new office registrations. As of December 2014, there were:

  • 10 certified offices, and 11 registered to become certified
  • 6 certified labs, and 6 registered to become certified
  • In the Shrum labs, the fume hood stickers posted as a part of the Green Labs certification program resulted in energy savings of approximately 20,000 ekWh over 6 weeks in March 2014.

The goal to have 10 certified labs and 10 certified offices by Jan 2015 has almost been achieved with the number of participants registered. Furthermore, the Green Office and Labs programs received an Environmental Star award in the green choices category from the City of Burnaby.

The Update

The program continues to thrive. As of April 2015, there were:

  • 11 certified offices, and 15 registered to become certified
  • 8 certified labs, and 4 registered to become certified

In March 2015, SFU ran a week-long Green Office/Lab Challenge and crowned the Department of Engineering Science and the Brinkman Lab the winners.

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