Students will soon play a hands-on role in making workspaces across campus more sustainable.

The Office of Sustainability is partnering with students in the Leadership for Managers and Entrepreneurs course within Pamplin College of Business to relaunch its Green Office Certification program this fall.

The program provides faculty, staff, and students with the tools needed to go green in their office spaces. Each office will be given a checklist of sustainable practices to implement that focus on energy, alternative transportation, event and meeting planning, purchasing, recycling and waste reduction, and more. 

Offices interested in participating in the program will identify a Green Representative who will attend a student-led training session and complete the steps provided in the checklist to lead the efforts to earn the Green Office Certification at the bronze, silver, or gold level for their workplace.

The peer-to-peer education component of the program gives participants the training and knowledge they need to help educate their colleagues and inspire good workplace sustainability practices.

Sustainability Manager Nathan King credits Emily Vollmer, sustainability office intern and recent graduate, and Josh Trump, sustainability graduate assistant, for reinvigorating the Green Office Certification Program and leading program development over the spring and summer.

“Emily and Josh saw a need to completely overhaul the program to make it easier for Green Office Representatives to use, along with bringing new attention to the cause and attracting new offices to participate,” said King. Before the pair got involved, the program had not been operational in over two years.

To bring the program to fruition on the Blacksburg campus, the Office of Sustainability is looking to students to help educate colleges, units, and departments in green office practices by helping with surveys, providing training materials, and training new ‘Green Reps.’

That’s where Pamplin students come in.

From ethical reasoning, to intercultural communication, and strategic critical thinking, students in Dr. Kimberly Carlson’s Leadership for Managers and Entrepreneurs course are exposed to a broad range of skills needed to be successful in today’s workforce.

How do sustainability and creating more environmentally-friendly workplaces coalesce with these business skills?

Environmental stewardship is integral to improving the human condition, as emphasized in Pamplin’s new Strategic Plan. Businesses play a critical role in developing and deploying sustainable solutions to global challenges. The strategic plan calls upon Pamplin faculty, staff, and students to foster economic, social, and environmental change in their organizations and in their workplace and co-curricular teams.

This charge is what drove Carlson to connect with the Office of Sustainability this summer to engage her students in the revitalization of the Green Office Certification Program, which will be a semester-long project for students.

“Not only will students build leadership skills while working on a team, they will also gain invaluable practical experience outside of academia. They will learn about sustainability and best practices for engaging campus community members in environmental stewardship,” said Carlson.

Students will be placed into six teams with 4-5 members each. Each group will focus on a different department or college on campus, with the ultimate goal of implementing the program by November. Students are set to engage with the College of Engineering, Pamplin College of Business, Division of Student Affairs, Virginia Tech Athletics, and more.

According to Nathan King, sustainability manager, students leading the program will be instrumental in galvanizing a network of Hokies committed to sustainability, across all levels of the university.

“The students in Dr. Carlson’s class will play an integral part in marketing the Green Office Certification program and getting the word out on campus about how little steps can have big payoffs when it comes to sustainability,” shared King.

Employees and departments who would like to learn more about Green Office Certification can contact to get started.

Written by Christy Myers

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