Green Office: Contribute from your cubicle

May 31, 2011

Going green is getting easier.

Colleagues across all four ASU campuses can celebrate sustainability practices that go far beyond blue recycle bins and reusable coffee mugs. Environmentally mindful employees who establish and engage in sustainable practices within their workplaces can help their office become certified through the Green Office program. A group of people sit around a table during a presentation given by a woman. Download Full Image

“The Green Office program advances our sustainability practices by providing a roadmap for individuals and different work groups to make meaningful contributions within their departments,” says Ray Jensen, Associate Vice President of University Business Services and University Sustainability Operations officer.

Program options & certification levels

The three-level Green Office program rolled out in March 2010. By August 2010, the Polytechnic Career Preparation Center was the first department to receive level-one certification. So far, level-one certifications have been bestowed to eight other offices including the Office of Knowledge Enterprise and Development, and both the Campus Recreation department and Student Affairs on the Tempe campus.

The Green Office program has two different approaches available, self-guided and facilitated. A Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) representative leads an employee group in the facilitated option. The self-guided alternative enables a designated departmental staff member to guide his or her officemates through the process." title="Green Office">Green Office presentations and checklists are easily downloadable.

Each of the three levels includes 10 sustainability focus areas that contain between one and five items for colleagues to implement into their workspaces. Following each of the three program levels, all of the participating coworkers sign a completed checklist. University Sustainability Practices awards Green Office certifications to the departments that submit the signed checklists.

Based on the office team’s understanding and experience with workplace sustainability practices, employees only need to invest about one to two hours’ time to reach level-one certification. According to Jehnifer Niklas, GIOS program coordinator, during the facilitated sessions, the program overview takes about a half an hour and coworkers can spend another 30-45 minutes working through level one.

“The program plays a pivotal role in creating a safe space to dialogue about sustainability issues and challenges that we face in the workplace,” Niklas says. “I have witnessed groups team up to problem solve sustainability topics and then integrate them into their offices, which is outstanding since we sometimes get lost in our silos and forget that we are all part of a greater ASU community.”

Going Greener

Teaming up to realize sustainability practices in their workspaces, Campus Recreation colleagues on the Tempe campus achieved level-one certification with the implementation of sustainability actions that also prompt Student Recreation Center (SRC) patrons to participate. For instance, anyone can donate athletic shoes, tennis balls, batteries, and bicycle tires year round at SRC “drop” stations.

“With the high number of SRC users, we feel that we are in an ideal location to provide drop stations for recyclable or reusable items,” says Doug Ewing, Campus Recreation associate director. “The stations encourage our staff to continue its sustainability efforts as well. We were excited to find out how many sustainable practices we were doing without even realizing it.”

Additional Green Office efforts in play at the SRC include the use of environmentally friendly laundry detergent and natural lighting in staff offices during the daytime, as well as several water stations that discourage the use of plastic water bottles. According to Ewing, the department implemented a poster series that provides helpful hints to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. “The topics range from shopping for organic foods with reusable bags, to the installation of low-flow shower heads,” he adds.

Leading by example is an inspirational approach that SRC coworkers have implemented as they continue to break down cubicle walls and “green” their office environments. All university employees who participate in and promote Green Office actions contribute to the sustainability goals established by the university.

“Sustainability at the organizational level is one of those things that truly needs to become embedded in our ASU culture if it is to have an impact,” Niklas says. “As we reach ASU’s four sustainability goals of zero waste, carbon neutrality, principled practice, and active engagement, we achieve economic viability, social justice and effectively lessen our ecological footprint.”

Vist the GIOS" title="website">website to learn more about and become involved with the Green Office program.

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


Greg Esser, Downtown Phoenix arts advocate, to head up the Desert Initiative at the ASU Art Museum

May 31, 2011

The ASU Art Museum is pleased to announce that Greg Esser has been appointed associate director for the Desert Initiative, a project supporting independent and collaborative research into desert cultures and environments through the arts and sciences.

Housed at the ASU Art Museum, the Desert Initiative is composed of a network of arts institutions throughout the Southwestern United States and in other global desert regions with a vested and active interest in the desert as a point of creative investigation. The goal of the Desert Initiative is to produce distinct new, interdisciplinary explorations of the desert for local, regional, and international audiences and engage diversified, non-traditional arts audiences in consideration of desert cultures. Download Full Image

“Greg Esser is the perfect person to make sense of, and make real, our collective goals and ideas,” says ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox, noting Esser’s “familiarity with the region, extraordinary production experience with large-scale projects and his deep links to the desert.”

The Desert Initiative combines Esser's passion for artistic creation and inquiry with his deep interest in arid land issues, policy and research. He has lived, worked and studied in desert regions internationally including the Sinai, Negev, Sahara and sub-Saharan Africa in addition to the American Southwest. He is a graduate of Arizona State University with an MFA in Intermedia and completed his undergraduate study at Oberlin College with a degree in Art and Social Change.

Prior to joining ASU, Esser was the founding director of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation in downtown Phoenix, a non-profit organization focused on community revitalization through arts and culture. Esser has also served as director for three of the largest public art agencies in the United States, namely Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles County. He worked in public art at the national level as manager of the Public Art Network for Americans for the Arts in Washington, D.C.

“I am tremendously excited by the potential of the Desert Initiative to bring forth a new oasis of learning and mutual understanding,” says Esser. “I look forward to working with partners both within Arizona State University as well as others regionally and internationally to begin to realize that potential.”

The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America, is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. The museum is located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street in Tempe and admission is free. Hours are 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Tuesdays (during the academic year), 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and closed on Sundays and Mondays. To learn more about the museum, call 480.965.2787 or visit or

Public Contact: 
Deborah Sussman Susser
PR Specialist
480. 965.0014

Media Contact:
Deborah Sussman Susser
PR Specialist
480. 965.0014