University of Washington Green Office Certification Learn about the University of Washington Green Office Certification Program

Workshop Wednesdays: UW Sustainability holds Green Certification workshops the first Wednesday of each month. Everyone is welcome to join to learn more about our Green Office and Green Laboratory certification programs - we'll have a brief presentation, answer questions about the certification application, walk through available resources to help make your workplace more sustainable, and provide support for filling out the application. Find event details on the Sustainability Events Calendar, or for more information email

What is Green Office Certification?

The Green Office Certification Program at the University of Washington encourages staff, faculty, and students to help make their office or workplace at UW sustainable. Any member from campus departments can participate in an informal review of their office practices. The short online survey allows the office to see what steps their office is already taking to be green, and areas where their office can improve. Qualifying offices will be recognized at different levels of certification based on the criteria they meet.

The certification is based on workplace practices in action areas such as energy conservation, green meetings, paper conservation, publications and marketing communications, purchasing, waste diversion, transportation, and more.

For this program, “office” is self-defined and has a flexible definition. An office may be an individual, a small group, or an entire department, as long as everyone within the defined office is following the criteria defined in the certification. A smaller office can encourage other offices within a larger department to become certified.

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What are the levels of Certification?

The levels of certification are Bronze (55%-69%), Silver (70%-84%), and Gold (85%+). These levels are determined by the percentage of points that the office achieves over the total points the office is capable of achieving. For example, not every office has a vending machine in their building, so instead of being penalized, the total number of points possible will be adjusted accordingly.

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How is an office scored for Certification?

The evaluation has 8 categories and adheres to a point system, with 1-3 points assigned to various office attributes or behaviors and with opportunities for bonus points for extra effort. Based on the feasible actions for each office, certification is awarded according to the following qualifications:

The office must first score 15% or greater in every category, and then achieve an overall percentage of the following for each level:
Bronze - 55-69%
Silver - 70-84%
Gold - 85% +

Each office must re-submit the full application on an annual basis to ensure re-certification.

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How does an office apply for Certification?

To participate in the Green Office Certification program, a representative from the applying UW office should be selected as the designated point of contact, and should complete the online application form. The questions are primarily yes or no, and answers may be saved and returned to later. A printable version of the criteria is available for those who would like to collaborate with other office members in answering the questions. If your office is interested in making sustainability improvements before applying, we also offer a resource page for the Green Office Program to help with implementation of most of the criteria.

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How was the program developed?

A student intern with UW Sustainability (then the Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability office) initiated the program, and brought together staff members from various departments on campus who have expertise in different aspects of sustainability (see below). This committee developed the framework and criteria for the program. Through the Program on the Environment’s Capstone Meet & Greet Event, members of UW Sustainability were connected with two students interested in working with the Green Office Certification program as part of their capstone project. These students worked together with the intern to develop resources, and pilot and implement the program. In their research, they studied what standards make workplaces sustainable, and what practices make college campus’ greener. After piloting, the program was launched University wide with intent of setting a sustainability standard for UW offices, accomplishing goals set in UW’s Climate Action Plan. Participants in the creation of the program included:

  • Member of UW Creative Communications - with expertise in publications & marketing communications
  • Member of UW Educational Outreach & UW Tower Green Team - with expertise in green meetings
  • Member of UW Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability office - with expertise in paper conservation
  • Member of UW Health Sciences - with expertise in energy
  • Member of UW Purchasing - with expertise in green purchasing
  • Member of UW Recycling - with expertise in Recycling, composting, and waste reduction
  • UW Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability office Intern
  • Two Capstone Students from the Program on the Environment

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UW Climate Action Plan

Why is the Green Office Program Important?

The Climate Action Plan calls for the establishment of a departmental level reporting tool (Strategy 2.3.1) and for the availability of general office guidelines for UW offices (Strategy 7.4.2), both of which the Green Office Certification program supports. In addition to aligning with these strategies, the impact of the program's criteria help reduce carbon emissions and conserve water and energy resources.



Return to Top | Green Office Certification Application | Certified OfficesResources | Printable Version