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Green Tips & Resources

Below are links to general resources for the Green Office Program: 

The following tips/resources are separated into sections that represent the sections in the Green Office Checklist. These tips are meant to act as a guide for teams to become more sustainable and reach higher levels of certification. 


Reminders to turn off lights/office equipment  

Light plate decals are a simple and easy way to remind office members to turn off the lights when not on use. To request light plate covers for your office please use our Green Office Request/Reporting Tool 

Small print off reminders to turn off office equipment (computers, monitors, and laptops) is a great reminder for staff to shut it down at the end of the day. Print off a sheet of four Power Off signs to save paper! 

Reduced lighting in the office 

Any UMBC office can request a reduction in overhead lighting through work control. Use the Aim interface to place an electronic work order or call work control (x52550). For personal task lighting make sure your light bulbs are LED to decrease energy use. Check out BGE’s discounts on ENERGY Star rated LEDs from local retailers. 

Low maintenance indoor plants 

Having plants in the office can help make the space more welcoming and purify indoor air quality. Below is a list of plants that are relatively low maintenance and require little sunlight, which makes them ideal for an office with limited natural lighting. 

  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)  
    • Light: Do well in partially lit areas 
    • Water: Every other day 
    • Properties: Purify indoor air  
  • ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 
    • Light: Can survive without direct sunlight 
    • Water: Wait until the top of the soil is dry to water this plant. Be careful not to overwater. 
    • Properties: Grows slowly  
  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria) 
    • Light: Requires very little sunlight  
    • Water: Can go multiple days without being watered  
    • Properties: Very hardy plants, grows well in room temperature, & purifies indoor air 
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) 
    • Light: Requires little light  
    • Water: Does not like dryness, so water daily  
    • Properties: Known as one of the top air-purifying plants 
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) 
    • Light: Requires very little sunlight
    • Water: Wait until the soil is dry to water 
    • Properties: Lush green look to brighten your office and grows very quickly  

Even though these plants are considered easy to maintain, they still need a little TLC. Before placing plants in a common space, create a watering schedule and assign staff to water plants. That way there is accountability, so your office plants are thriving.  

Is your building LEED-certified? 

Visit our Sustainability Map to find out!  

Additional Resources: 
  • Energy Vampires: Even when some electronics or appliances are ‘turned off’, energy vampires – laptops, monitors, computes, and coffee makers – are still slowing draining energy. Print off Energy Vampire poster for your office Green Bulletin Board and investigate purchasing smart power strips for your office! 
  • Energy Spenders: Refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers are some of the most energy-intensive items in the office space. When common kitchen space is available consider removing excess personal fridges and microwaves. Check out the list of the top 8 energy spenders in offices and come up with a plan to reduce the energy use of those appliances.  


Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle 

Historically sustainability programs have focused on increasing recycling. Although recycling is important it is not a closed-looped system. At UMBC our waste management is first focused on how we can reduce waste, especially when it comes to single-use items.  

How to reduce paper use in the office 
  • Have a network printer in the office set up to send copies electronically   
  • Utilize paperless meeting by storing all meeting agendas, information, and notes in shared spaces, such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Team Drive, and Box 
  • Train all staff/faculty on how to scan and upload documents electronically into Box 
  • Pass a procedure within your department to stop the mass printing of syllabi for students 
  • Set up all MFD default to duplex printing  
  • Reduce the number of personal printers in the office. Some personal printers do not have the ability to print double-sided 
Switching to habits of reusing 
  • Reusable Batteries: Rechargeable batteries are not only great for the environment but have the potential to save your office money too! Below are a few steps an office should take to make a seamless transition: 
    1. Go through all office spaces and take an inventory of items that currently use batteries (e.g. mouse & keyboards) to understand how many rechargeable batteries your office will need  
    2. Talk to staff in charge of office supplies purchasing about making the switch to rechargeables  
    3. Purchase batteries and a recharging station. Our Office suggests purchasing the Eneloop Panasonic NI-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable batteries for durability/longevity purposes. Make sure to order an extra number of batteries to have fully charged back-ups for when they die. 
    4. Send an email to all staff informing them of the switch! 
    5. Set up a charging station in a common area and assign someone to make sure old batteries are being recharged and stored. 
    6. Wait for batteries to die, recycle dead batteries, switch with rechargeables, and never buy batteries again! 
  • Reusable Dishware: Providing a set of reusable dishes for staff is a great way to save money and reduce waste! Once your office has run out of disposables, make the switch to common area reusables. Make sure all staff are aware of the switch and have a reminder in the kitchen area to wash all dishes after use. It is also helpful to provide a drying rack to make washing the dishes simple and easy. 
  • Scrap Paper: Sometimes printing one-sided documents is inevitable. Setting up a scrap paper collection bin is a great way to reduce paper waste and save money on notepads. If your office is creating a large amount of scrap paper contact Commonvision to bind and create notepads! Commonvision also takes scrap paper donations to create note pads for students. 
  • Reusable K-Cup: A Keurig is one of the most wasteful and environmentally harmful ways to drink coffee in the office. Contrary to popular belief plastic k-cups are not recyclable and are just an additional plastic waste stream. However, there is no denying the convenience of a Keurig is unmatched. Switching over to a re-usable K-Cup can save your office money and help the environment without the loss of convenience. Below are some tips/tricks on to brew a good cup of joe with a reusable cup: 
    • Use very fine ground coffee to maximize flavor and strength 
    • Dark roast is always the way to go. A light roast generally brews watery in a reusable cup 
    • Brew only 6-8 ounces of coffee to avoid watery brew 
Posters for Collection Bins: 
Setting up additional recycling streams in office
  • Battery Recycling: UMBC has an e-CYCLE program to recycle electronics and batteries. To participate create a central location in your building or office space to collect batteries. Once you have collected many batteries, use the Aim interface to place an electronic work order or call work control (x52550) for a pickup.  
  • Toner/Printer Cartridge Recycling: Most toner manufacturers provide costumers with a free send back program to recycle printer cartridges. Simply reuse the shipping box from your new toner and send back your used cartridge. UMBC does collect toner/cartridges to be recycled. If sending back cartridges is not an option create a central collection location in your building. Once you have collected a lot of cartridges, use the Aim interface to place an electronic work order or call work control (x52550) for a pickup. *Note if your office is in The Commons there is a toner collection bin at the information desk. 
    • Produce bags 
    • Grocery bags 
    • Ice bags 
    • Bread bags 
    • Ziploc bags 
    • Cereal box liners 
    • Case overwrap 
    • Newspaper sleeves 
    • Dry cleaning bags 
    • Bubble wrap 
    • Plastic e-commerce mailers   

This is a self-serve recycling program and staff/faculty are responsible for taking plastic film to one of the four NexTrex box locations (The Commons information desk, Apartment Community Center, 1st Floor of the Administration Building, and Facilities Management). To start collecting plastic film start your own small collect bin and send an email out to all members of your team! 



UMBC Human Resources has a procedure for teleworking and flexible work agreement documents. 

UMBC Transit 
  • Try UMBC’s free shuttle system for easy access to train stations, satellite parking, the BWI airport, Catonsville, and Arbutus 
  • The newly upgraded low-emission fleet with easy-load bike racks and solar-powered bus shelters makes UMBC transit more sustainable than ever! 
  • Go onto UMBC Transit Tracker to see the real-time location of UMBC buses 
MTA Public Transit 
  • Bus: CityLink Yellow (YW) & Purple (PR), LocalLink 37, 76 & 77 connect UMBC with surrounding area 
  • Train: the MARC commuter train connects the Baltimore and DC area 
  • Light rail and Metro connects Baltimore County and City 
Carpooling with fellow commuters  
  • ZimRide is a free UMBC sponsored program to help you match up with carpools 
  • By carpooling daily, you may qualify for a preferred parking space in lot 4 
  • Employees can qualify for a discounted parking pass through the Employee Carpool Program 
Charging electric vehicles on campus  
  • There are now 12 charging stations at UMBC (10 in the Walker Avenue Garage and 2 in the Stadium Parking Lot) 
  • These are free to use for the UMBC community as a whole 
Biking to campus 
  • Bike racks, bike lockers, and bike racks on UMBC Transit makes cycling seamless on campus & off 
Additional transportation resources 
  • Send out the Green Office Transportation Survey to all your full-time staff/faculty to get Green Office points! 


Green Purchasing Guidelines 

When transitioning over to environmentally preferable products the item must meet one of the following criteria: 

  • Contain at least 30 % post-consumer recycled content  
  • Contain bio-based or compostable alternatives to traditional plastic 
  • Have a sustainable third-party verification (e.g. FSC, Energy Star, Green Seal, etc. 

Make the transition to green office supplies simple and easy with our Green Purchasing Guide! The Office of Sustainability extensively researched sustainable alternatives from things like copy paper to facial tissues. For each product, we have listed the greenest option and the most affordable green option to make green purchasing fit your office’s needs. 

Retriever Exchange 

Retriever Exchange is a group on myUMBC where any UMBC department can advertise office items or supplies no longer of use to them. The items are available to any other department on campus free of charge.  Retriever Exchange is considered a sustainability win-win because it encourages departments on campus to reuse and reduce products and sustain their budgets. 

Follow Retriever Exchange on myUMBC to look out for potentially useful items and post your unwanted supplies before throwing it out! 

Re-using furniture on campus 

UMBC’s work control manages the relocating and repurposing of department’s unwanted furniture. This excess furniture is kept in the warehouse to be reused by other departments. Call work control at x52550 to find out the availability of an item for your department. 


Running office food drives 

Retriever Essentials was created with the vision to eliminate the burden of food insecurity for all UMBC community members. Retriever Essentials reduces food insecurity on campus by providing non-perishable items at the on-campus food pantry and food zones, along with their Save-a-Swipe program. To support the food pantry and food zones organize an office food drive! Below are instructions on how to most effectively run a food drive in your office: 

  1. Send out a staff-wide email with the following information: 
    • A link to the Retriever Essentials webpage 
    • The start and end dates of the collection drive. We suggest sending an email a week before you start collecting items and collect items for at least 2 weeks. 
    • The name and office location to give all donated items. 
    • A list of Retriever Essential needs. Follow the Retriever Essentials myUMBC group for updates on needed itemsAlso, check the Retriever Essentials webpage for list basic pantry needs. 
  2. Coordinate with other co-workers on who will bring what. The pantry finds it most helpful to get a diversity of items from a food drive. Plan to divide and conquer most needed items. 
  3. Collect items and take them to common Retriever Essentials donation centers on campus: 
    • Administration Building Ground Floor 
    • AOK Library – Atrium 
    • The Commons – Across the Information Desk 
    • The Food Pantry – Sherman 205 
    • UMBC Campus Police 
    • OCA Mocha – 5410 East Dr, Halethorpe, MD 21227 
Posters for green bulletin board