30% of Municipal Solid Waste is compostable food and yard waste.
Departments are changing how they work to reduce energy and waste.
Employees throughout the campus, our Green Leaders, are creating Green Teams that promote new practices, reduce waste, and lower energy use. Several departments share their experiences as they change the way we do business.
The administrative staff members within the Department of Psychiatry have been developing green practices for their offices since January 2008. They have reduced paper usage, started recycling, and have monthly meetings to continue to make changes in office operations. They have posted instructions for double sided copying directly above copy machines to encourage using less paper. “Currently many staff members take home bottles and cans used during the day, so that they can be recycled,” she added.
The Department of Anesthesiology installed new multifunction Xerox machines, which allow for “toner saver” printing, which makes lighter copies using less toner. These machines also act as printers and users can send high volume, multi-page documents directly to the copier for double sided printing. The machines also provide scanning and emailing features which reduces paper use. The machines are set for sleep mode to save energy when not in use. The department replaced several fax machines as a result of the upgrade, using the new copiers for network faxing. This not only saves energy by having less equipment, the department realizes additional savings with lower monthly phone charges for the reduced number of analog phone lines.
The Office of External Affairs has upheld a long-term commitment to fostering sustainability initiatives. We have harnessed the Earth Day Motto of “Think Globally, Act Locally” by focusing on the reduction of Styrofoam and paper cup use in our office. Each new employee receives their own Weill Cornell Medicine branded coffee mug, which reduces the amount of trash that goes into the landfill while cutting costs in the long term. When the City of New York implemented the commercial building recycling laws, our department was proactive in creating a comprehensive recycling program. External Affairs has increased awareness for the need of thoughtfulness in energy use as an active participant in the annual Weill Cornell Medicine Un-power Hour and raffle. Tom Nichols and Clare Casey are the “Green Leaders” for External Affairs.
When the Weill Cornell Medical College assumed responsibility for housekeeping services in the Weill Greenberg Center and theresearch buildings in 2008, the Housekeeping and Custodial Services team took the opportunity to transition to green cleaning processes throughout the campus. All of the routine cleaning products used on campus are approved by Green Seal, which is an independent, nonprofit organization that sets environmental standards and awards a Green Seal of Approval to products that are friendlier to the environment. The impact of converting is enormous considering the quantities of cleaning products used annually on campus. Flore Berger, Director of Housekeeping and Custodial Services, has led the initiative to greener cleaning not only for the planet, but for a better working environment for employees and staff. Ms. Berger noted that, “The Green Seal cleaning products give off fewer fumes and our vacuum cleaners use HEPA filters to reduce dust. These changes make our work areas safer.” Special dispensing stations for cleaning products were installed to help use the correct concentration of cleaning solution for the task being performed. The cleaning cloths and mops used are now made of microfiber, which perform better and last longer. The special flat mops hold cleaning solution within the handle for direct application, so that compared to traditional mops, the system produces 80% less chemical waste. Together, these changes reduce the amount of chemicals released into the atmosphere and into the wastewater stream.
Brad Jones Lab, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, is the first lab on campus to participate in the My Green Lab Certificate program. After filling out a lab survey, they received a tailored feedback report. They then decided on the key areas they wanted to focus on to make their practices more environmentally friendly. Their strategy involved appointing “Green Lab experts” for each of the key areas, who then lead to a month-long challenge to improve these practices (e.g. “freezer challenge” or “plug load challenge”).
“This way, we’ve had a lot of fun and we already significantly cut down on plastic waste, improved recycling, eliminated confusion about waste and turning off/leaving on equipment, and meanwhile cleaned and reorganized our freezer space.” Said Noemi Linden, a PhD student in the group who’s coordinating the green certification efforts.
Contact us if you want to become a Green Leader or create a Green Team.