Making a green impact

November 30, 2016

University staff and faculty come together to improve sustainability in their workplace and beyond

After a one-year hiatus, the Office of Sustainability is bringing back Green Impact. The program, which originated in the U.K., encourages staff and faculty to work together to adopt sustainable behaviours in the workplace in an effort to improve well-being and resilience on campus.

"We want people to get excited about a program that makes a difference on campus,” says Kerstyn Lane, outreach and engagement advisor with the sustainability office. "I'm hoping Green Impact will create a bigger culture of sustainability at MacEwan—so that means more participation in the Office of Sustainability's events, more initiatives linked to well-being, and more conversations happening between colleagues about what they can do to improve the sustainability of their workplace."

Image-SUSTDEC-greenimpactFor Green Impact 2016/17, teams are just getting started on implementing sustainable actions throughout their corresponding departments, which come from a variety of areas across campus.

Iris Rohr, the administrative assistant for the Department of Communications, has participated in Green Impact since it first began at MacEwan, and has since acted as a leader for the communication department’s Green Write team.

One of her favourite past activities stemmed from her team’s desire to support biodiversity. Together, she and her team adopted an eagle that was in the rehabilitation process—a creative initiative that made a big impact, and fell far outside the realm of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

“It's not hard to be environmentally friendly, but it does make a difference in the long run,” says Iris.  “We need to be more conscious of the decisions that we make and the impact they’ll have on future generations."

Like Green Write, some teams get creative with the initiatives they pursue, but the program is also designed for those who want to keep it simple. Turning off laptops and computer monitors at the end of the day, for example, is a simple action that teams can take if they’re just starting to explore the realm of sustainability.

Teams are granted points based on the actions they implement, with the groups being awarded a bronze, silver or gold status at the Green Impact Awards ceremony in June. No matter how big or small, the efforts of all teams are acknowledged, as it’s important to recognize how these combined efforts make the campus a better place.

"Teams tend to earn a lot of environmental points because activities in this area are the most tangible and the easiest to implement,” says Kerstyn, highlighting how many groups take the initiative of starting recycling programs. “Points for social and cultural activities may be harder to reach, because initiatives in those areas are not practiced as commonly."

Social and cultural activities include acknowledging Treaty 6 Territory at events, having discussions about people’s preferred pronouns, and creating safe space policies.

Whether teams choose to pursue cultural, environmental or social initiatives, they’re all pursuing the same goal: to improve the overall sense of well-being on campus.

"Green Impact gives us a sense of pride and community,” says Iris. “We're all working together for the same cause, and at the end of the day, we can say, 'Hey, this is something that we've all done.'"

The Office of Sustainability is still accepting new teams for Green Impact 2016/17. For more information, go to or send an email to

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