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Action Tool Kit


Thank you for agreeing to be your office’s sustainability advocate. This checklist will guide you towards making your office as environmentally friendly and efficient as possible. The form will automatically save your answers as you complete each field.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like more information, please email

enter your netid and press edit to begin



As a sustainability advocate, you are authorized to take charge of correctly organizing the recycling bins in your office. You should also ensure that staff members in your office understand how the recycling system works. For more information, visit NYU’s recycling page.

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Common bins are correctly labeled as Landfill, Mixed Recycling, or Technoscrap.
Note: If you have not received enough (or any) of the new labels, please place a work order with the Client Service Center (CSC).
Recycling bins are always paired with trash bins. If you need more bins or lids, place a work order.
Staff members (who want one) have access to a small blue desk side recycling bin. If you need more bins, place a work order.
Note: Make sure your staff knows that they are responsible for emptying their own bins into the larger blue common bins.
Technoscrap bin (electronic waste like ink/toner cartridges or batteries) is available in a common area. If not, place a work order.
Note: Technoscrap bins are emptied two ways by Recycling Services: by placing a work order when full, or requesting a routine pick up through the work order form if your office generates technoscrap more frequently.
Email colleagues with information about the recycling system and offer to answer any questions.
The staff member in charge of office moves is aware of the recycling system and ordering process for bins in new office spaces.
Process: The individual deskside bins should move with employees to the new office and the new central bins should be reordered with CSC. Check with Recycling Services if they have reusable moving boxes by submitting a work order before buying new ones.

Note: Once unpacked, submit a work order to CSC for Recycling Services to pick up the boxes. They’ll put them back into the program for another use!

Bin count:

Number of large blue mixed recycling bins in your office area
Number of technoscrap bins
Number of deskside bins
Number of trash (landfill) bins

We are currently piloting a textbook recycling collection project. Does your office have a need for access to a textbook recycling container?




Help steer your office’s purchasing habits towards optimizing sustainable opportunities. Peruse NYU’s environmental purchasing guide to identify ways in which your office can purchase more post-consumer waste (PCW) and readily recyclable products, and encourage others to do the same.

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Meet with staff member(s) in charge of purchasing for your office. Inform them about our Environmental Purchasing Guide and the Asset Management service at the university.
Note: Coming soon: the "NYU preferred" list on the i-buy system will provide suggestions and information on cost-effective, sustainable alternatives to regularly purchased items. If you have items you would like to see highlighted on that list, please send suggestions to
If your office is moving or upgrading furniture, take charge (and/or coordinate with staff member in charge of the move) of informing Asset Management, as early as possible, about upcoming changes. Before you purchase office furniture, such as filing cabinets, desks, etc., check to see if Asset Management has any similar surplus items in stock.


Meet with the staff member in charge of paper purchasing in your office to discuss the office's paper needs.
Is post-consumer waste (PCW) content paper currently being purchased? (ie 25%, 100%)
Request that a change to at least 30% (preferably higher) post-consumer recycled content be made.
Percentage PCW content of recycled paper purchased.
Estimated total cartons of recycled paper purchased per month.
Estimated total cartons of non-recycled paper purchased per month.

Bottled Water

Discourage your office from using or buying bottled water.

Does your office currently rely on a five-gallon water cooler?
Take steps to eliminate or replace that machine with a bottle-less filter-cooler.
Number of five-gallon jug bottled water dispensers that have been replaced.
Does your water cooler or filter use disposable cups?
Take steps to replace disposable cups with reusable alternatives. On i-buy, the vendor "M Tucker" has affordable glasses and silverware available.
Organize your office to purchase NYU Green Reusable water bottles, for your colleagues, to provide an alternative to disposable plastic bottles by emailing Depending on quantity and sizes ordered, bottle costs range from $4 - $8 per unit, typically.
If your office has regular events, talk to the organizing staff and request pitchers and reusable cups or containers for serving water instead of single-use bottles.
Event staff have agreed to stop purchasing bottled water.
Based on the above, estimate the number of bottles saved per month.


Energy savings

Energy Savings

There are many ways in which your colleagues can reduce NYU’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources. NYU has cut 30% of its energy use since 2006, but most of that has come from technical changes behind the scenes the next 30% opportunity is through conservation, and the Advocates are at the forefront of that possibility! This list is not exhaustive, so if you come up with other ways to help, let us know!

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Individual Computers and Printers

Visit your colleagues at their desks and verify that their computers are configured to save energy. (Work with your colleagues to actually make these configuration changes.)
Remind your colleagues that the best way to save energy is to turn things off. NYU staff are encouraged to fully shut down their computers at the end of each work day.
Visit all your colleagues at their desks and verify that their default computer printer settings are set to print double-sided (duplex) on all installed printers. (Work with colleagues to actually make these configuration changes, except where they offer a specific reason: e.g. single-sided default printing is essential to their job role, or their printer lacks the ability to duplex, which is uncommon.)
Note: all printers and computers are different so this may take a bit of trial and error. Contact the ITS helpdesk at ext 8-3333 if you have questions.

Enter numeric values:

Total number of computers in office area
Computers configured for hibernation
Computers configured for printing double-sided
Total number of individual deskside printers in office area (do not include shared printer/copiers in this count)

Shared Computers and Printers

Meet with the staff member in charge of managing any shared computers in your office area to discuss energy efficiency and paper waste.

Work with that staff member to:

Confirm that all shared computers (e.g. in public labs, lobbies, work-study stations, etc.) are configured for auto-duplexing with every printer that is installed.
Confirm that all shared computers are configured to save energy.
Confirm that all shared printers and fax machines are enabled to enter sleep mode after five minutes of inactivity and to hibernate after two hours.
Note: To change settings on shared printer/copiers, you may have to do this directly on the printer’s control panel. All printers are different. Please consult your printer manual. For additional help, contact the helpdesk at ext 8-3333

Enter numeric values:

Total shared printers/copiers in office area
Total shared computers in office area
Shared computers configured to save energy and print double-sided
Shared printers configured to save energy and print double sided

Peripherals/Power Strips

Ensure your colleagues are using power strips for computers, speakers, telephone chargers and other "vampire" appliances that draw energy when turned off.
Note: We recommend putting the power strips on your desk instead of the floor, for easy access.
Work with colleagues to relocate power strips to desktops, wherever feasible.
Email your colleagues with information about "vampire" appliances and how to use power strips to save energy. If they must leave their computer on overnight in hibernation mode, consider looking into buying "smart" power strips from Staples i-buy. These have separate outlet controls so the appliances and chargers and be turned off at the end of every workday while computer or something else can stay on.
Work with your team member in charge of purchasing to order extra power strips for your office (if needed) on i-buy.
Visit your colleagues at their desks to install and explain how to correctly use and switch off power strips.
At the end of every work day and especially on weekends, turn off power strips for shared equipment, or find someone who will take responsibility for these areas.

End-of-day/Holiday Office Closing procedure

Ensure that a resource-conserving procedure is in place for evenings and extended office closings.

Develop an office closing procedure. (example procedure)
Discuss implementing the office closing procedure at your next staff meeting. Agree on the number of days per week this will be put in place.
Email your colleagues about saving energy overnight by shutting down the office at the end of each day: Ensure all lights are turned off (including bathrooms), copiers are turned fully off, manual thermostats set back (85° summer, 55° winter), computers are shut down or hibernated, printers and other office equipment turned off, power strips for desktop loads turned off, blinds or curtains shut.
Establish an office contact formally responsible for emailing staff before holidays and breaks with an energy saving reminder and checklist or take on this role yourself.


Complete a lighting audit of your office.

Do you suspect that lights are unnecessarily left on during the daytime and/or in the evening?
Work with your building manager to reduce unnecessary light usage, either by installing occupancy sensors in partially occupied areas, or timers that switch off lights after working hours, wherever possible. If you are unsure of who to contact, email
Check to see if every office, single bathroom, copy room and classroom has an occupancy sensor installed. If not, submit a work order with CSC.
Are energy-efficient bulbs (ie compact fluorescents) used whenever possible? If not, submit a work order. If you are unsure what type of lights you have, email and ask for a walk through.


Water savings

Water Savings

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Complete an audit of the water fixtures in your office space (sinks, toilets, fountains, etc.)
If you identify any leaky fixtures, submit a work order to have them repaired.
How many leaky fixtures did you identify?

Toilet Count

(enter numeric values)

Toilets with tanks
Toilets with no tanks
Dual flush toilets (has option for low flow flushing versus standard flush)
Waterless urinals
Standard urinals


Climate Control

Climate Control and Indoor Comfort

Ensure your office is not overheated or overcooled.

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Audit manual thermostats and adjust settings, if necessary. The appropriate set points are 74° for cooling (summer months) and 68° for heating (winter months). Note: in some cases, thermostats cannot be manually adjusted. If this is the case in your office, see next step.
If you find that your office is overheated/overcooled, and are unable to adjust manually, put in a work order request to have the thermostat adjusted. You should also feel empowered to work with your building manager to change this. If you are unsure who your building manager is, email
Email your colleagues with information about energy efficiency measures and temperature set points.
Raise energy efficiency and temperature in a staff meeting and answer questions if necessary.
Are there any space heaters in your office?




Engage and educate your colleagues about workplace sustainability. Spread the word about the changes you are making!

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Email your colleagues and as for feedback from other office members about green ideas. Pass these ideas on to the Sustainability Office.
Make sure that every office area in your department or division has a Sustainability Advocate. Work with the Sustainability Office to recruit new Advocates.
Number of Advocates recruited
Ensure new employees receive training about the recycling system, energy efficiency and other sustainability initiatives. Please also distribute our new employee flier to them.
Meet with staff members in charge of organizing events for your office and work with them to promote sustainable planning.
Throw an environmentally friendly party/event for staff. For example, when ordering food for a group, request local/organic options and decline the disposable serving ware. Try making it zero waste!
Submit a request to set up a custom bike share training for any interested employees or sign up for an already scheduled training.
Stay appraised of Green Grant application schedules and encourage your colleagues to submit ideas!