How the School of Education went green – and saved money at the same time


Get Green is an incentive program designed by a dedicated mix of staff and faculty at CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development who are determined to educate and encourage faculty, staff and students to adopt greener habits.

Get Green launched in August 2010 with the program “v1.0 Reducing our footprint,” which focused on the school’s use of paper, printers and copiers. From then through May 2011, faculty and staff reduced copying and printing by 35 percent for a savings of more than $20,000. The savings included reductions in paper, toner, copy machine use and printing ordered from outside vendors. But most significantly, changes in habits and processes continue to benefit the school and the environment.

Words of wisdom from the Green Team:

  1. Make it a fun, positive contest. Academic programs and units competed monthly to be the biggest reducer. Data was gathered each month using printer logins and copy codes. The number of pages consumed was compared to that program/unit’s consumption from the previous budget year for the same month.
  2. Help participants think about the environmental significance of their actions. Most people want to go green. Some just need a reason (like a contest) to start better habits.
  3. Keep people engaged on a regular basis. Trivia contests, raffles and regular emails with tips keep people active in the process.
  4. Get participants to think before they print. Members of the Green Team attended academic program faculty meetings and staff meetings, engaging everyone in conversations about the effort.
  5. Get people to print in duplex. Before the initiative started, only 15 percent of materials were printed in duplex. Now, a year later, 32 percent of print projects are double-sided.
  6. Support people who need help with technology. The school’s technology team was in full support of the effort and helped everyone make better use of the paper-saving technology available to them.
  7. Make the RTP (retention, 10-year, promotion) process for faculty electronic. One Green Team member advocated for changing a paper-intensive process into a more electronic-based practice.
  8. Track progress on a Get Green website.  The Green Team created a website where faculty and staff could find resources, see results and ask for help.
  9. Award prizes on a monthly and annual basis. The most popular prizes were lunches for the units who brought about the biggest reduction in their copying/printing in a given month. Other prizes included Starbucks gift certificates, gardening gloves and plants.
  10. Celebrate year-end results. An end-of-the-budget-year Green Team party drew over 75 participants and encouraged everyone to keep up the good habits.

The Green Team is open to new ideas and is preparing to launch a new initiative for the School of Education in August. For more information on how to start a Green Team for your school or college, please contact Allison Rehor,, or 303-315-4921.

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