Green Office Tools

Staff throughout the university support campus sustainability. Here's what you can do!

Toolkit: Power Down for Summer


You can stay cool while keeping your power draw to a minimum and reducing Western’s carbon emissions by following some simple tips. Download the Power Down for Summer Poster

  • Dress appropriately
  • Hydrate
  • Drape a moist towel around your neck
  • Open a window
  • Close window blinds
  • Take a break
  • Find air-conditioned spaces
  • Unplug equipment
  • Turn lights off
  • Place a fan close by
  • Turn off fan and appliances when you leave


  • If you feel that your space is unnecessarily warm, please contact Facilities Customer Service @ 650-3420. FM staff work with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) to assess room temperature. Click here for the procedure on initiating a report on warm work spaces.
  • If you would like EHS to hold a short Heat Stress training for your department, please call 650-3064 or email John Kingsford-Smith at
  • For more information on Heat-Related Illness, please see this section of Western’s Safety Information Book.
  • For general information on staying cool when it’s hot this CDC website is also helpful.

Sustainable Office Certification Program


Sustainable Office Certification reduces costs, protects the environment, conserves resources and promotes fairness, safety and health. The program supports actions and provides a simple way of measuring efforts that happen at the office level. Participating Offices are recognized for their level of achievement, as a way of showing thanks and appreciation for measurement of work well done.
>>read more

Department Conservation Coordinators

A Department Conservation Coordinator is a staff or faculty member in a participating department, with the following qualifications:

  • A commitment to conservation concepts and actions
  • A strong interest in reducing utilities costs and working toward zero waste in their departments
  • Two to four hours per month release time for activities, including a quarterly training and networking meeting.

Students may serve as assistant Conservation Coordinators in departments with a staff or faculty DCC.

What You Do


Sustainable best practices in Western's working, learning, and living spaces make a difference. Use your power for good.

Download Poster

Top 10 Actions

  1. Disable Screen Savers
  2. Switch off lights and equipment
  3. Wear a sweater
  4. Ditch the plastic
  5. Use less paper; choose recycled
  1. Sort your trash
  2. Call for Recycling
  3. Share materials you don't need
  4. Share the ride, walk, or ride a bike
  5. Spread the news

Download Poster | Request Print

Energy Conservation Tools

The Belkin Power Strip has 6 remote controlled outlets, and two 24/7 outlets. The remote control can be hung on the wall and has a long range for ease of access. Now you don’t have to crawl under your desk to reach your power strip every day! Expand Me

The Belkin Surge Protector Remote battery will last for about a year of regular use. When it comes time to replace it, take the remote out of the wall hanger. The bottom panel on the back of the remote opens by pushing a small, flat object, such as a key, into the small opening on the bottom of this panel, and pushing outwards until the panel pops open.

When purchasing a replacement battery, you can chose to shop online at Keeney's Office Supply or Office Depot. Both links can be found on the WWU Central Stores website. The battery is an A23, 12-volt alkaline battery, and can be purchased in a single or double pack from Energizer or Duracell. Keeney's Office Supply carries a single Energizer A23 battery, with stock number EVEA23BPZ. Office Depot carries an Energizer double pack, Item #909398, a Duracell A21/23 single pack, Item #544668, and a Duracell A21/23 double pack, Item #550254.

A Belkin Power Switch helps with turning off appliances that may be difficult to unplug. The outlet allows one appliance or device to be plugged in, and has a switch on the side that turns the outlet on and off. This allows for energy to be consumed only when the device is needed and on. When you switch the outlet off, the device can remained plugged in without consuming “phantom energy”.

A Belkin Insight Monitor is available to check out for a short period of time (a week or so). The Monitor has an outlet and a readout screen, which allows you to plug in any appliance and see the cost and real-time voltage of electricity used by the equipment or device, and the associated CO2 emissions produced. The monitor collects data when your appliance/device is on and off.

We compared the electricity draw of LED holiday lights versus incandescent holiday lights. If left on 24/7, the regular light string would cost $40.56/year in electricity used, compared to the LED light string, which would cost $1.74/year.

Toolkit: Ink and Toner, recycling and using re-manufactured cartridges

If your office is using the Magnum recycled printer cartridges, available through Keeney's, returning the used cartridges is done through Keeney's. However, Western's Central stores will accept all types of cartridges for recycling. Send your used ink cartridges, or new cartridges for printers you no longer use to Central Stores, MS 9116

Magnum has produced quality re-manufactured toner since 1991. Magnum brand toner cartridges have an average 1% defect rate, meeting or exceeding OEM toner defect rates. Magnum toner cartridges are available for laser printers, copiers and multi-function printers as well as faxes. They are made in Seattle, by fair-wage employees of all abilities, hired from the local community. 

The cartridge cores are re-used up to 12 times and the Magnum brand product boxes are re-used up to 30 times. Reducing waste in landfills and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint is part of the company mission.

300 million toners are thrown in US landfills every year. 97% of the components of a toner are recyclable. Help break this cycle by recycling your toner cartridges. WWU purchasing recommends using Magnum brand toner to reduce your cost, and also reduce Western's carbon footprint!

Toolkit: Paper Waste Reduction

When office paper can no longer be used, it should be recycled. Most campus offices have bins for paper recycling at desks and common areas, with contents periodically transferred to the large blue barrels in building hallways. Most offices reuse paper ream boxes as their recycle box for under desks or near copy machines. This is encouraged because it’s reusing and the boxes are easy to replace if lost. If you want a bin for this use you can order a blue plastic bin that has “Recycle” printed on it through Keeney’s, or contact the Office of Sustainability for possible custom solutions.

Read More: Paper Waste Reduction (PDF)

Toolkit: Special Events Checklist

  1. Minimize or eliminate handouts
  2. Send invitations via email
  3. Virtual teleconference meetings
  4. Healthy Options
  5. Fair trade, local, organic
  6. Water is provided as a choice
  1. Avoid individually-packed servings
  2. Share the news!
  3. Set a zero waste goal & waste plan
  4. Reduce the impact of giveaways
  5. Choose compostable centerpieces
  6. Help others plan ahead & follow up

Download Poster | Questions?

Toolkit: Heating (68°F)


68 degrees is the targeted heating set point in all campus buildings.

Room temperatures will typically vary a few degrees above and below the set point throughout the day, depending on a variety of factors. A room or area may seem warmer or colder, depending on proximity to system fans, windows or vents, and in relation to outside temperatures.

Facilities Management is committed to solutions providing comfort and functionality, while working to reduce utilities costs and supporting university climate action commitments.

All members of the university community are asked to support the 68F set-point through common-sense actions: (Click on the plus to learn more.)

Expand MeWinter Tips for staying comfortable while conserving heating energy
  • Dress in layers you can add and take off for comfort throughout the day; Keep a sweater or fleece in your office or work area.
  • Avoid the use of space heaters: Using electricity for room heating will negate the desired energy conservation and financial outcome.
  • If your room seems hot, consider opening the door to a corridor, rather than a window to the outside.
    • Opening windows for cooling can trigger a heating response by the ventilation system and result in over-heating your area.
    • A door equipped with an automatic closer is probably a fire door, and should not be propped open.
  • Most buildings are set for balanced heating; opening the door to a corridor may be necessary to allow warmer air into a cool room.
  • Do not prop open doors to the outside.
  • If you do open a vent or window, take time to close it before you leave the office at night, on weekends and breaks. Post a reminder to avoid forgetting to check your window.

Expand MeRooms and offices with adjustable heating units
  • Some rooms have baseboard or radiator style heating units, with accessible hand-dials for adjustment.
    • Hand dial guidelines and settings for maintaining a comfortable temperature while reducing energy consumption.
    • Some dials adjust from 1 to 5, some from 0 to 6 – see the diagrams below
    • Set your dial to the number closest to 68F.
    • Avoid turning the dial to a higher temperature range if the room seems cold. A higher setting will not heat the room faster.
    • Do not set your dial to "off" or below the star setting at any time. (Doing so can result in frozen pipes.)

temp setting

temp table

If it's too hot or too cold...
Temperatures in most rooms will vary around the set point through an average day. If conditions in your area feel unusually hot or cold, WWU Energy Management technical staff will check into the problem to determine whether adjustments are needed.

Expand MeTo report a heating or air circulation issue in your area
  • Call the FM Work Control Center, x3420 to report unusual or uncomfortable hot or cold conditions in your office or area.
    • Be prepared to give your building and room number, or room numbers if you are calling to report conditions in a suite or area.
    • You may be transferred to speak directly to the building control center.
  • A building control technician will check your area settings and controls, and make any possible remote adjustments.
  • If remote adjustment is not possible, or does not fix the problem, an on-site visit will be scheduled.
  • On-site assessment can be expected within a few days.
  • If the site check does not reveal a malfunction, the maintenance technician will request that the 10x12 Program Manager schedule a visit for further review of conditions and needs in the area.

Expand MeBackground

At Western, heating is provided by a central steam plant fired by natural gas, and piped to most buildings on campus. However, heat delivery and temperature monitoring systems vary within each building, depending on age, academic function, engineering and architecture. The architectural differences in our buildings can be charming, but also challenging. Newer buildings, including the LEED construction on campus in the last few years, have been engineered with internal heating and air circulation controls that can be monitored and adjusted remotely. As part of WWU Facilities Management's support of the university Climate Action Plan, retrofitting is scheduled in a number of older campus buildings also. This will enable FM staff to check and adjust settings in most buildings immediately, and schedule necessary on-site visits in a timely manner.

Adjustment of building heat set points to 68F and lengthening late-night setback time will be completed by November 2011. The expected benefits are a reduction natural gas and electricity costs of $42,000 annually.

Re-calibrating the campus-wide heating set point to 68F is an adjustment of 2 degrees in most campus buildings. Most building occupants are unlikely to notice the change. In order to optimize energy cost savings and CO2 reduction, Faculty, staff and students throughout campus are asked to support the winter set-point. Common-sense actions and awareness of energy conservation will enable Western to reach its next climate action goal (36% drop in emissions by 2020), on the way to climate neutrality by 2050.

Toolkit: 5 Things in 5 Minutes


Quick ways to reduce personal electricity consumption. This graphic PDF can be attached to an email and forwarded throughout a department, as a reminder. Department Conservation Coordinators can order full-color prints to post in prominent locations. Stickers or clings to post as reminders to switch off lights, computers and other power-using devices can also be requested.

Download Poster | Request Print

Toolkit: Power Down for Break


One PC and monitor, left on continuously, adds up to 1,000 Kilowatt hours per year, causing about 1,230 lbs of CO2 per year, at an annual cost of just under $100 each, based on our local electricity rates. Multiplied by between 1000 and 2000 staff and faculty office computers alone, you can get the idea of the magnitude. (And that doesn't include the printers, fax machines, coffee makers…) the tools below can help expand energy conservation actions throughout campus.

Department Conservation coordinators can help reduce campus wasted energy load during holidays and extended breaks by forwarding "Power Down for Break" reminder messages to faculty, staff, and students. The 10x12 Program sends a message prior to each break, and can provide a template for you to customize for your department.

Power Down - Poster Series:

powerdown-thanksgiving powerdown-winter powerdown-spring

Before you leave for break - remember to Power Down. Help reduce WWU standing electricity load (also known as power drain) or phantom load:

  • Turn off computers, monitors, & printers
  • Unplug chargers & small appliances (not the refrigerator)
  • Leave the thermostat at its normal setting
  • Close the windows & the shades
  • Turn off lights & shut windows in unoccupied rooms
  • Water plants
  • Remind colleagues & students to "power down" before leaving
  • Enjoy the break!

Download Thanksgiving Poster
Download Winter Poster
Download Spring Poster

Toolkit: Power Down Computers

Turning computers and monitors off at night will reduce electricity consumption impacts and costs substantially. For more strategies, Read these guidelines for computer electricity reduction.

The average office computer and monitor use about 130 KWh of electricity. The computer uses 55 KWh and the monitor uses 75KWh. If they are on 24/7 this costs $80 a year, at our regional electricity rates, and generates 1,229.90 annual lbs. of CO2 per computer annually, about the size of two and a half standard transit buses. (How Big is 1 Ton of Carbon?)

The cost of electricity may seem small, but multiply that by the number of computers on campus and it's easy to see how turning off our screen savers and setting computers to standby mode can get WWU closer to energy conservation and carbon reduction goals.

Disabling the Screen Saver and sending your computer to standby or hibernate when you leave your desk are easy ways to reduce electricity consumption, carbon impacts, and WWU utility costs. The screen saver doesn't save energy – in fact it uses just as much electricity as your monitor does when you are working.

Expand MeOne Action That Always Saves Energy

Simply push the power button on your monitor to shut it off whenever you get up from your computer. Turn it back on when you sit down again. Your computer will use about 55% less electricity while the monitor is off, and your files will be right there when you turn it back on. You can put a small note on the corner of your monitor to remind you that just the monitor is off. After a while you'll remember to look for the monitor "on" light, and turn it on first, before you go to the computer button.

Expand MeScreen Saver
  • Start>Settings>Control Panel>Display>Screen Saver>None
    1. Open the "start" menu
    2. Go to "settings"
    3. Go to "control panel"
    4. Open "display" – display properties folder will open
    5. Open "screen saver" tab.
    6. Click on down arrow, to see screen saver options
    7. Select "None"

Returning the screen to active mode is as quick as hitting the spacebar or shaking the mouse.

Expand MeStandby Settings
  • Start>Settings>Control Panel>Display>Screen Saver>
    1. Open the "start" menu
    2. Go to "settings"
    3. Go to "control panel"
  • Open "display" – display properties folder will open
    1. Open "screen saver" tab
    2. In the Power Monitor box, Click on the "power" button
      • Suggested guidelines:
        1. Turn off monitor: 5 Minutes
        2. Turn off hard disks: Never (standby does this automatically)
        3. System Standby: 20 minutes

Expand MeManual Standby

If you are not able to change your computer's power settings without administrative access, you can go to standby manually: Start>Shut Down>What do you want the computer to do?>Standby

When you return to work, pushing the power button
will bring your computer back to active mode.

Expand MeTo Determine Your Computer's Operating System
  • Start>Settings>Control Panel>System>General
    • Click on the start menu
    • Open "Settings"
    • Choose control Panel
    • Click on Systems
    • Click on the tab marked "General" – which will show what operating system your computer uses.

If this procedure doesn't work for you, your computer may have a different operating system than the general campus standard. You may need to contact your area IT specialist to request that your computer settings be adjusted for optimal energy savings.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Won't turning it on and off shorten the life of my monitor?
A: Well, theoretically maybe, but in practice, monitors are usually replaced when the computer is replaced, long before the monitor wears out. The payback in energy savings is immediate and ongoing, without shortening the useful life of the monitor.



Carol Berry, Campus Conservation Program Manager | (360)650-7979