Overview

What is Green Paws?

The Green Paws Program is a simple, yet effective way for faculty and staff to understand sustainability, how it operates, and how to apply it to their professional and personal lives. Through this program, Penn State is creating a baseline of stewardship best practices that are approached through a few group, as well as individual, actions. The group work is designed to build a common understanding of sustainability among peers and nurture sharing experiences and ideas for advancing the University Strategic Plan’s emphasis on Stewarding our Planet’s Resources and Ensuring a Sustainable Future.

Since its inception, over 2,300 Penn State employees have participated in Green Paws. The program was originally organized into four levels of certification that signify an office’s progression toward higher and higher levels of efficiency, health, and environmental sustainability. As of recently, the content and structure of the program has been revised to offer a more holistic and robust understanding of sustainability. This second iteration of Green Paws is now offered through Canvas and so far consists of two levels of certification. Every participant completing all the actions will earn a certificate for their Professional Development Training, through the Learning Resource Network. Groups can also receive a framed certificate signed by the University President and Dr. Paul Shrivastava, the University’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of the Sustainability Institute, if three-quarters of a group complete all the actions.

The program is built around learning objectives for each level that serve to successively increase the scope of sustainability from a local to global level. These objectives in turn reinforce and expand on sustainability competencies learned throughout the program. Each participating group can work at their own pace and the size of the groups can vary from a few co-workers to more than 20 people. There are several activities that require discussions, benefiting from the group’s experience and expertise, so consider that function when forming your group. This program is open to all Penn Staters at all locations.

To earn Green Paws Office Certification, 75 percent of all employees from your office* or administrative unit must complete all the actions on the checklist. By going through this program with others, you help to 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.

For more on the Green Paws Program, contact: Lydia Vandenbergh, 814-863-4893. If you are interested in ways to introduce sustainability practices into your work and home lives, you can also sign up for the AIR Green Team newsletter. Monthly edition include stories of Accomplishments by Penn State sustainability champions, Inspiration and Resources to take action (AIR). To sign up, complete this form and we’ll add you to the growing network of champions reading the short AIR newsletter.

*Office occupant is defined as staff and faculty that are either full-time or part-time. If you have students who are consistently part of your office, they are welcome to join as well.

Faculty, staff and students at Penn State New Kensington gather for a group photo to celebrate the campus being the first to achieve full completion of the Penn State Sustainability Institute’s Green Paws Programs. Over the course of four years, the campus completed each of the four levels of the program, which aims to educate members of the University about sustainability and related practices.

Getting Started

Join the program in a few easy steps!

  1. Looking for advice or help to begin your participation in Green Paws?
    Email Lydia Vandenbergh at lydia@psu.edu to arrange for an orientation.
  2. When you are ready to enroll, email lydia@psu.edu with this form, complete with a list of your group’s participants and contact information. You will be contacted by the SI staff and enrolled and the staff will provide an orientation to the group.