Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
November 18, 2014

Scotty Goes Green

Program Provides Offices With Framework for Sustainability

By Bruce Gerson

Scotty logoCarnegie Mellon has always prided itself on being environmentally responsible, but there’s a new movement afoot that’s challenging the university community to further reduce its carbon footprint.

The size of a Scotty dog’s paw is what organizers have in mind.

The Scotty Goes Green program, named by CMU Environmental Coordinator Barb Kviz, aims to engage faculty and staff in efforts that will make their offices more sustainable, energy-efficient and cost-effective.

Offices are defined as “any organization or part of an organization that shares common areas and resources, such as kitchens, meeting rooms, storage rooms and other commonly shared spaces.”

The program, modeled after a University of Maryland initiative, provides participants with survey questions to measure their current level of environmental friendliness, and checklists of activities that they and their co-workers can follow to meet bronze, silver and gold levels of certification.

Activities fall under eight categories: participation, energy, transportation and commuting, kitchen, events, reduce and reuse, recycling and purchasing. 
Offices must comply with 75 percent of the checklist to meet the specified standard of excellence.

For example, the bronze checklist includes: turning off lights in unoccupied rooms; turning off computers and monitors at night; participating in food composting; using reusable cups at events; and recycling batteries using the FMS battery collection service.

The silver checklist includes: replacing old power strips with “smart” power strips; replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs); taking advantage of telecommuting and conference call opportunities; eliminating bottled water; hosting zero waste events; and buying recycled office 

Activities to reach the gold level include: supporting at least one student or campus-wide sustainability initiative or event; unplugging office appliances at night; carpooling when travel is required; and using rechargeable and reusable batteries for all small equipment.

Launched in September, the program has 18 offices registered thus far, including the entire Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, which includes about 3,400 square feet, 250 people, 40 offices and five labs. CEE is the first academic department to take the challenge.

Jodi Russo, assistant to the department head, and Ron Ripper, manager for the Hauck Environmental Engineering Lab, are co-chairs of the CEE Scotty Goes Green Team.

“We’re looking to go green everywhere,” Ripper said. “Our department head, David Dzombak, has been a champion for green practices ever since I’ve been here, so the program is a very good fit for us.”

“Dave wants to be a leader in this effort and being the Civil and ‘Environmental’ Engineering Department, we should be a leader,” Russo added.

Ripper said master’s degree students on the Scotty Goes Green Service Project Committee have distributed surveys to faculty, staff and students in the department to get a baseline of its green activities so they can complete the pre-audit portion of the program.

“I don’t anticipate any problems of being at the bronze level. Once we get certified bronze, we’ll begin working toward silver,” Ripper said. “I would hope to get the silver certification by the end of the school year.”

Ripper and Russo said the department currently does a nice job of recycling and composting food products. They noted a holiday party held in conjunction with the Engineering and Pubic Policy Department a few years ago.

“We had close to 200 people and we had about one-half bag of trash. It was phenomenal. We now purchase compostable plates and flatware,” 
Ripper said.

Another bragging point for the department is a water filtration system 
in the CEE office’s kitchen sink.

“It takes our tap water, filters it, and gives you high quality drinking water. This replaces bringing filtered water in. There’s no plastic bottle waste, no transportation to and from the water company, and people reuse their own drinking cups and mugs,” Ripper explained.

Russo said moving forward the department will be ramping up its efforts in energy-efficiency. University Registrar John Papinchak is the Scotty Goes Green rep for Enrollment Services on the lower level of Warner Hall.

“Everyone has a recycling bin at their desk, and we eliminated Styrofoam cups. We gave everyone a travel mug, and brought in extra mugs for guests to use for water, tea and coffee. We participate in recycling ink cartridges, batteries and CDs,” Papinchak said.

Learn more about the program at

Scotty Goes Green Participants:

Hunt Library
Sorrells Library
Facilities Management Services, 1st and 2nd floors
Institute for Complex 
Engineered Systems
Student Affairs Operations
Mellon College of Science 
Civil and Environmental 
Engineering Department
Athletics Department/Cohon University Center
Warner Hall, 3rd floor
Dining Services
FMS/Service Response Center
Campus Affairs Systems
Alumni Relations and 
Annual Giving
Registrar’s Office
Enrollment Services
University Copy Centers
Naval ROTC Program
Counseling & Psychological Services