Butler University’s Office of the President has earned Green Office Certification from the University’s Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES). The certification was awarded based on the Office’s sustainability efforts.

“When it comes to sustainability efforts, the Office of the President is leading by example,” Jamie Valentine, Assistant Director for CUES, said. “If other offices and departments across campus followed in their footsteps, we could collaboratively strive to achieve Butler University’s sustainability goals, create a more sustainable campus, and make a meaningful impact in our community.”

To earn Green Office Certification, an office must complete an application and answer questions about their current sustainability efforts. An office is defined by the group applying for Green Office certification; it can be a small group that shares a general space or as large as an entire department. The application addresses eight specific areas: awareness; transportation; wellness; diversity, equity, and inclusion; energy; waste reduction; purchasing; and innovation. After becoming certified, offices that want to incorporate more sustainability initiatives into their office, but are unsure how, can collaborate with the CUES to achieve their goals. The Green Office program aims to empower individuals and offices to incorporate sustainability into their lives in ways that are meaningful to them while emphasizing the breadth of sustainability through economic, equity, and environmental initiatives. 

According to Valentine, the President’s Office earned the maximum number of points available in the areas of awareness, wellness, energy, purchasing, and innovation. “Everyone in the office is aware of the things they can do individually and collectively,” Valentine said. “They are energy efficient, they recycle and don’t use styrofoam, they reuse office supplies, and they use green cleaning products in common areas. They are making a conscious effort to improve their environment, which has an impact on everyone who visits the President’s Office.”

Sustainability is an important issue for Jim and Bethanie Danko, who are actively involved in their personal lives as well. Bethanie serves on the Indianapolis Zoo’s Board and its Conservation Committee, and Jim has served on the Executive Committee of the Indianapolis Prize, which focuses on global species conservation. At home, Bethanie cultivates pollinator gardens and supports wild birds at the President’s Residence; curates a Little Free Library to encourage book re-use; grows vegetables in organic raised-bed gardens near the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing; and regularly volunteers on campus and in the Indianapolis community to support conservation and citizen-science projects.

“CUES is doing such crucial work across a range of areas—from research and curricular offerings to organic food production and student internships—that as soon as Jim and I learned about the Green Office certification program, we wanted our group to participate,” Bethanie said. “It was a great way to identify areas for improvement… for example, we need to offer guests water or coffee without using so many single-use plastics, while respecting health/safety concerns and avoiding the imposition of a dish pile-up on staff members. If anyone has ideas, please let us know!”   

CUES and the Office of the President encourage other offices and work groups to learn more about how they can make their offices more sustainable. To learn more, and to apply for Green Office Certification, please visit Green Office | Butler University.