Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.49
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Dec. 17, 2020

STARS v2.2

Pennsylvania State University
EN-7: Employee Educators Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.42 / 3.00 Lydia Vandenbergh
Assoc. Dir. Employee Engagement & Education
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total number of employees:
16,902

Total number of employees served by a peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program:
9,789

Percentage of employees served by a peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program:
57.92

Name of the employee educators program (1st program):
Sustainability Councils/Sustainable Operations Council/Green Teams

A brief description of the employee educators program (1st program):

In 2018, the Sustainability Institute began seeding the idea of creating Sustainability Councils in Penn State’s academic colleges, Commonwealth campuses and financial and administrative support units. The purpose of the councils is to advance the University’s strategic goals focused on sustainability, as framed by the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure that these networks are sharing best practices with each other. Each Council should have the backing of the Dean, or other executive, be led by an appointed chairperson, and have a charter that outlines its principles and governing structure.

At present, twelve college councils have been formed. After the foundational steps of creating the group and charter, these councils have focused on integrating sustainability into their unit's strategic plan revisions, due this fall, engaging their peers in the process. Sustainability Institute staff, chaired by the Chief Sustainability Officer, convene the Council chairs bi-monthly for a facilitated discussion, which includes networking, support and introduction of sustainability resources for colleges to utilize pertaining to curricular, co-curricular, operation, staff engagement and administration. The College Council Chair network communicates regularly and is provided sustainability news and resources weekly. The councils, in turn, facilitate working teams led by peers within their college to address and ensure sustainability throughout the curriculum, operations, and research. https://sustainability.psu.edu/councilsandchairs

For the financial and administrative units, there also exists a network of sustainability leaders, the Sustainable Operations Council, which has existed since 2016. The SI staff has introduced the concepts of sustainability to these fifteen representatives over the past several years, helping them seek not only opportunities for change in their units, but also ways to collaborate for greater impact. These change agents meet as a group, bi-monthly with the SI staff. In one unit, Housing and Foods, the Sustainability Coordinator trained 55 managers to focus on reducing food waste and included broader sustainability issues in that training as well. Each of those managers trained their staff as well. http://sustainability.psu.edu/sustainable-operations-council

Another tier of this sustainability institutional infrastructure is the Green Teams network. We presently have forty of these teams at the University Park campus comprised of staff, faculty, and students who engage their peers and encourage them to take specific actions to help their organization (college, department, building, etc.) operate in a more efficient, innovative, and healthy way. Green Teams can support the work of these councils with peer education activities.


A brief description of the employee educators program’s target audience (1st program):

Green Teams focus primarily on staff, though faculty are involved in many cases. When Green Teams are formed, they attend an hour orientation. Beyond that, the SI offers two to three green team trainings annually.
Examples of the Green Team activities include:
- The Outreach and Online Education Green Team sponsored a lunchtime "learn about Electric Vehicles" exhibit with four EV owners answering questions. Another program of theirs brought in a speaker on pollinator gardens.
- The Nursing Green Team worked to integrate sustainability into their courses and ultimately created a new course focusing on the intersection of climate change and health.
- In 2019, Green Team members from eight teams worked with Eco-Reps to educate students, faculty and staff about recycling during the America Recycles Day.
- The Library Green Team organized a Recycling Jeopardy challenge.
- Focusing on the reuse theme, the Communications Green Team organized a "Free-cycle" event to put unwanted items back into use by others.
- The Housing and Food Service Sustainability Coordinator has implemented Lean Path in all the University Park dining halls, engaging several hundred staff in its implementation.


Number of trained employee educators (1st program):
122

Number of weeks the employee educators program is active annually (1st program):
49

Average or expected number of hours worked weekly per trained employee educator (1st program):
0.50

Total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (1st program):
2,989

Website URL where information about the employee educators program is available (1st program) :
Name of the employee educators program (2nd program):
Green Paws Program

A brief description of the employee educators program (2nd program):

The Green Paws Program is a simple, yet effective way for faculty and staff to learn how to use resources efficiently. The program is organized into four levels of certification that signify an office's progression toward higher and higher levels of efficiency, health, and environmental sustainability. Several activities require discussions, benefiting from the group's experience and expertise. To earn a Green Paws Office Certification, 75 percent of all employees from an office or administrative unit must complete all the actions on the checklist. By going through the program as a group, participants create a community that is learning together about making sustainable decisions and creating habits that improve the quality of resources, fiscal stewardship and employee health.


A brief description of the employee educators program’s target audience (2nd program):

Staff and faculty


Number of trained employee educators (2nd program):
131

Number of weeks the employee educators program is active annually (2nd program):
49

Average or expected number of hours worked weekly per trained employee educator (2nd program):
0.10

Total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (2nd program):
641

Website URL where information about the employee educators program is available (2nd program):
A brief description of all other employee peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education programs:
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Number of trained employee educators (all other programs):
---

Number of weeks, on average, the employee educators programs are active annually (all other programs):
---

Average or expected number of hours worked weekly per trained employee educator (all other programs):
---

Total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (all other programs):
---

Grand total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (all programs):
3,630

Hours worked annually by trained employee sustainability educators per employee served by a peer-to-peer program:
0.21

Website URL where information about the employee sustainability educators programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Over the past three years, the Sustainability Institute has worked to institutionalize sustainability at the University, to embed efforts into the University's research, teaching, operations, outreach and student co-curricular activities. All of these leaders are engaged in learning about University's Sustainability priorities and their relationship to the global Sustainable Development goals. We work with all the units, helping them determine how their efforts can be channeled towards the university and global goals. It was difficult to determine the precise number of hours spent training these champions and estimating the number of hours they have dedicated working with their peers on related activities.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.