The Emory University Office of Sustainability Initiatives awarded the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library their Green Office Certification at the Silver Level for 2020-2021.
Rose Library, as it’s more commonly known, is uniquely positioned to develop environmental literacy among those who use our collections as well as our own staff and has already identified justice-centered professional practice as a priority of our work. In meeting the goals of our current strategic plan, the Rose Library cannot aspire to justice-centered professional practice without addressing the environmental impact of our work, especially as environmental justice continues to be the most affecting issue of our time. Established in 2019, the Rose Library Environmental Sustainability Committee began work to identify the ways libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage organizations are currently thinking about issues related to environmental sustainability and the impact of climate change; evaluating and setting Rose Library goals; and creating outreach, education, and programming related to sustainability. Quickly, we identified building relationships with the Emory University’s Office of Sustainable Initiatives as a primary goal.
Green Offices at Emory launched in 2016 to advance Emory toward key sustainability goals, as explained in the Emory Sustainability Vision and Strategic Plan. This voluntary program focuses on energy and water efficiency and conservation, recycling and waste reduction, procurement, sustainable events, a safe and healthy work environment, and creating a culture of office sustainability. In addition to offering a strategy to move the department in line with Emory’s ambitious goals, this program allowed Rose Library to assess current levels and identify concrete steps toward improvement. Green Offices at Emory also offer certified Green Offices up to $5,000 in funding to implement sustainable projects. Funding is awarded for innovative ideas that support the goals outlined in Emory‘s 2025 Sustainability Vision, that are impactful and measurable, and that enhance sustainable practices in Emory’s workspaces and laboratories. Past projects include adding more recycling bins in Cox Hall Computing Center (a plan by Woodruff’s own Dawn Francis-Chewning), Morran lab’s piloting of reusable petri dishes, and adding motion sensor lights to Miller-Ward Alumni House.
The Green Office contract includes 71 requirements, but Emory has put the campus in a position to meet a majority of them. To start, some of these tasks include educating the department about the program through emails and social media as well as making available locations in the building for recycling spaces. In addition, the department’s staff participate in the Emory Sustainability Pledge. Overall, Emory’s attention to environmental sustainability already creates policies that mandate networked printers, recycling, water filling stations, and lights that are motion activated. Moreover, the Library’s Community and Campus Relations department (CCR) ensures that Rose Library’s events meet the zero landfill waste criteria by implementing sustainable options, including using priority catering through Emory Catering or America To Go. The Rose Library staff already look for sustainable options including packing materials, refraining from printing meeting agendas, and using the stairs between levels nine and ten (available through a card reader that was installed in 2019) as well as making available reusable plates, flatware, and cups for the breakroom and advancing Emory’s transportation options (of which many Rose Library staff take advantage) like MARTA, carpooling, and telecommuting.
There is still room for improvement, and the Rose Library Environmental Sustainability Committee will continue to motivate our staff to lower our carbon footprint and reduce waste through creative and innovative ideas.