What is a Green Team?
Green Teams are groups of faculty, staff, and students volunteering to engage and educate their peers to help their organization (college, department, building, etc.) operate in a more efficient, innovative, and healthy way. Typically, Green Teams focus on making their operations more sustainable through initiatives unique to their departments and/or the easy to follow Green Paws Program. Currently, the University has 30 Green Teams operating in various colleges and units and 11 of them at the Commonwealth Campuses. This network of change agents work with the Colleges’ Sustainability Councils, which have been formed to strategically advance the University’s sustainability goals, matching the work to the College’s unique mission.
The Sustainability Institute sponsors the Green Team program and supports it with information, resources, and training. What initiatives are these teams working on? Check out the success pages.
See the tabs above for more on forming your own Green Team, signing up for an orientation session, learning resources, and locating a team in your unit. For more information contact Lydia Vandenbergh at (814) 863-4893.
The ability to work with co-workers to make positive change:
- It’s more effective (and more fun!) to work with others
- Connection to over 40 Green Teams across the Commonwealth
- Bring recognition to your unit for having a Green Team
- Communicate with a network of Green Teams and access SDG educational resources through our Teams channels.
- Invitation to Green Team gatherings and special training sessions
- Access to the best and latest information, resources, events and news available from the Sustainability Institute that can help you and your Green Team succeed.
How to Form A Green Team
- Contact Lydia Vandenbergh to arrange a meeting and answer any questions you have.
To ensure that we provide your Green Team with the most accurate and up-to-date information, we ask that you let us know if there are any changes to your existing team. Please use this form to update the following:
- Green Team Name
- Green Team Leader Information
- Green Team Member Information
- Green Team Contact Information
Green Team Resources
With Green Teams on the front line of engaging others about sustainability, the Sustainability Institute aims to offer our Teams resources to broaden their understanding of these concepts and use to engage others in conversations about these topics. There are two types of resource banks below. First is an archive of the former newsletter for Green Teams, called AIR, which highlights short articles about sustainability achievements, inspirations, and bits of fun stats to share with your peers. Second is a host of materials, divided into nine categories that can be used to learn some basic information about each topic and for the Green Team to use to prompt conversations with your coworkers! Have fun exploring!
Orientation and General Resources
Air is our monthly newsletter filled with updates, events, green tips and news from our partners.
- September 2022
- August 2022
- July 2022
- May 2022
- April 2022
- March 2022
- February 2022
- January 2022
- December 2021
- November 2021
- September 2021
- August 2021
- July 2021
- June 2021
- April 2021
- March 2021
- February 2021
- January 2021
- December 2020
- November 2020
- October 2020
- September 2020
- August 2020
- July 2020
- June 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
Resources by Category
The first step of ensuring an inclusive world is understanding the breadth of sustainability. How do we work together to create this better world? The United Nations has created 17 goals with measurable targets that enable nations across the globe to become more resilient. As you work through the below resources, you will learn that sustainability is more than just recycling and switching off the lights. It is an approach to decision-making that recognizes the interconnectedness of economic, social and environmental systems and is framed using a set of global goals and our University’s priorities to have positive, long-lasting impacts beyond our borders and for many years in the future.
In light of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainability Institute has compiled a repository for educational materials on each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG educational resources channel on the University Park and Commonwealth Campuses Sustainability networks provide a collection of videos, activities, articles, and other media resources to build not only an understanding of each SDG, but also an appreciation for how it operates here in Pennsylvania. While the repository was launched in 2022, its current version is only a starting point. It is intended to be a “living resource,” by which it is constantly be amended and added to based on feedback from Green Teams. Any suggestions for additional resources are highly encouraged, and should be communicated to Lydia. To join either the University Park or Commonwealth Campus Sustainability Networks Microsoft Team, please email Lydia Vandenbergh at email@example.com
Below are some other introductory materials on the SDGs.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Transformation to a culture that values sustainability will require changes in perspective and action. Key to this process are awareness of the problem, ability and willingness to make a change and the motivation to do so. From all our unsuccessful New Year’s resolutions, we know that just having a willingness or knowledge won’t make the change happen. What can help the process are prompts, feedback, dynamic messages, setting goals and rewards. Check out the resources below to find information on how to combine these elements into behavior change campaigns.
Fostering Sustainable Behavior (available through Penn State Libraries)
Making Shift Happen (available through Penn State Libraries)
Project Inside Out Behavior Change Strategies
Easy Steps to Changing Behaviors
Most Impactful Sustainable Behaviors
Doug McKenzie-Mohr: Steps To Sustainable Behavior Change
Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr is a pioneer in environmental psychology and community-based social marketing. In this video, he explains how developing effective programs requires that the behavior change tools that make up our strategies are well suited to the barriers and benefits of a particular behavioral change. He also delves into proper delivery for maximum effectiveness of these sustainable behavior change strategies.
On the surface, communicating about sustainability seems to focus on rallying people to address the topic through education, information, warning, and persuasion. However, at a deeper level, our varied experiences, mental and cultural models, as well as underlying beliefs and worldviews, influence how we communicate about sustainability. In general, accounting for where an individual is coming from is crucial to effective communication, and resources to aid engaging in this type of successful communication are outlined below.
- Short Version: Communicating Impacts and Adaptation – Susanne Moser This talk provides insight into how to successfully communicate the impacts of sustainability and the effects of climate change, with a focus on the psychological factors that influence how people react and may either support or undermine their active and persistent participation in preparation for a sustainable future.
- MIT has created a toolkit to help students talk to others about climate change. This 45 minute video demonstrates to the participant the evidence of climate change, where it is happening, and how to talk with peers, engaging them in conversation.
Energy use is the largest driver of Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions and it costs about $30 million annually to provide heat and air conditioning to our buildings, electricity that make our day to day work possible, and fuel for our vehicles. The Physical Plants at all of our campuses work consistently to increase efficiency of our buildings, which has reduced our energy use, but there are actions that Penn Staters can take to cut waste. The resources below can help you and your peers understand the impact that energy has on climate change both in our individual decisions, as well as with large scale operations.
Improving Home Energy Efficiency Through Insulation
Air Conditioning History and Policies
The Environmental Impact of Cell Phones
How Does Your State Make Electricity?
Saving Money Through Electric Vehicles
First Gigawatt Down: Round 1 and Round 2
The “First Gigawatt Down” metric clarifies and illuminates any given energy supply solution. Part One of this two-part series defines the metric, while Part Two gives examples of how to achieve the First Gigawatt Down using current solutions taking place in various parts of the United States.
How Behavioral Science Can Lower Your Energy Bill
What method has been shown to reduce energy costs? Would you believe that in can lie in learning what your neighbor pays? In this TED Talk, Alex Laskey demonstrates how a peculiarity in human nature might help us all become better, wiser energy consumers, with lower energy bills as evidence.
While there are benefits to recycling, there are also many issues. Where possible, it’s best not to create waste in the first place. That’s where the Five R’s (Rethink, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle) come in. There are several versions of this framework, but the underlying values are the same. The Five R’s offer a fleshed out framework for thinking about the objects we bring into our lives and how we dispose of them. Awareness is a critical first step. With practice, this framework will become part of your everyday decision making process. Remember – every small action adds up!
Step 1 – Rethink: The first step is most effective in minimizing waste and maximizing savings, but it can often be the most challenging. We are conditioned to say yes – to disposable cups, utensils, straws, magazines, flyers, unnecessary packaging, and swag. Practice accepting the things you need, and rethinking the rest. Making thoughtful choices and setting standards for your team (or your household) can make it easier to “rethink” waste in the future. Here are some resources that can help you explore options.
Step 2 – Reduce: Where possible, reduce the use of harmful, wasteful, and non-recyclable products by simply using less. Be realistic about what you need, and take good care of what you have, reducing the need to repurchase in the future.
Reducing Food Waste with Apeel
Step 3 – Reuse: This is where a circular mindset begins to comes into play. Consider how you can reuse an item to keep it out of a landfill. Can you repair a damaged product instead of purchasing new? Reusing also means selling or donating your used items so they go to loving homes instead of the landfill.
Big Businesses on Reusable Packing
Step 4- Repurpose: We can creatively repurpose (or upcycle) products to give them new life and avoid waste. The possibilities are endless.
Turning Food Waste Into New Products
Step 5 – Recycle: After practicing the first four R’s, recycling is your best option.
Importance of Rinsing Recyclables?
REUSE! Because You Can’t Recycle the Planet
REUSE! chronicles Reuse Pro Alex Eaves’ journey across the country to the 48 contiguous states of the United States. He discovers countless sustainable reuse solutions for our waste problem along the way, many of which are also simple and fun. He also discovers the true benefits of “reuse” for people, the environment, and his wallet.
A father and son go fishing at their favorite spot, only to continuously catch single-use plastics with their lines. Watch this short video to discover the importance of small actions, like adopting a reusable water bottle.
Some friends dumpster dive in unsuspecting locations, finding thousands of dollars’ worth of completely edible food. Dive! looks into the subculture of dumpster diving as a means of lessening one’s impact on the environment and the world.
Long-term changes in temperature and weather patterns are referred to as climate change. These changes in the most recent centuries have been caused by human activity—primarily the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. Climate change causes adverse effects on the planet, such as forest fires, increased drought and rising sea levels. In Pennsylvania, we are seeing the impact of climate change in the increased extreme weather events, such as intense rain storms which can cause flooding; a rise in Lymes disease due to warmer winters, and more frequent deaths due to intense summer heat events. The below resources outline in depth what climate change is, what it means for our planet and people, and steps the Centre county region is planning to prepare for adaptation.
Climate Catastrophe – How did we get here?!
This short video outlines the history of climate change and our planet, and how the rise of fossil fuels has permanently altered our future.
Healing the divide on climate change | Karin Kirk | TEDxBozeman
In her TEDTalk, Karen Kirk illustrates how to frame the climate issue in a way that can bring together diverse groups. Through this video, we can learn how to have calm discussions and how to avoid typical pitfalls that cause conflict on this contentious topic.
The focus in this section is water, the life blood of life. Pause for a moment and look around to consider how water connects to everything around us. Up to 60 percent of the adult human body is water and it is essential for survival. Sometimes we take this resource for granted and it is in times of drought, or pollution driven shortages that we take time to consider its value. In this section, we will pause to consider how we use this resource.
Did you know that only 2.5 percent of our planet’s water is fresh and we depend on this water for growing crops, cooling our power plants, hydrating our bodies, caring for our animals, bathing and producing materials. Reducing water use, either through conservation or preventing leaks decreases the stress on our local water supplies. Consider adopting sustainable habits such as not leaving the water running when washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, and watering your garden.
Understanding Water Sources
Water Consumption and Reduction
Just Add Water – an explanation of water treatments
Threats to Our Water
Pennsylvania Acid Mine Drainage
This social experiment documents the responses of unsuspecting passersby in different parts of the world when they are informed that they could have to wait up to six hours for water. In the underdeveloped world, a person can spend up to 6 hours each day retrieving the clean water that they need to survive. Watch this video to learn 3 types of actions that you can take.
In the Allegheny Mountains, the Little Conemaugh River has been contaminated by toxic waste from abandoned coal mines. This river faced neglect for generations because people believed the damage to be permanent. However, a campaign by a network of local organizations has started to point to a new future for the Little Conemaugh, other rivers in Pennsylvania, and beyond.
Environmental racism is a form of systematic racism in which marginalized communities are plagued with excessive environmental hazards in comparison to more privileged communities. Environmental justice aims to highlight these wrongs, and bring all people and communities equal environmental protection. The below resources can help us understand the full extent of what environmental justice means and how certain communities face disproportionate amounts of injustices.
Bureau of Environmental Justice
This video highlights how the State of California acknowledges there are still far too many neighborhoods where poverty and pollution coexist, and works to fight against it. To amplify their voices and combat environmental injustices across the state, their Bureau of Environmental Justice works diligently.
What Is Environmental Justice?
The NRDC explains how numerous disadvantaged communities are impacted by environmental justice concerns because polluters are far more likely to target them, and showcases how as a result, these citizens suffer the most.
The variety of animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms that make up our natural world are all included in what is known as biodiversity. All of these critters collaborate in complicated web-like ecosystems to keep nature in balance and support life. We cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we depend on to give us the oxygen we breathe and the food we consume without a diverse variety of animals, plants, and microbes. The resources outlined below showcase what biodiversity means in terms of benefitting our planet.
What on Earth is Biodiversity?
In this short clip, Conservation International outlines what biodiversity means in terms of nature and how extinction risks are harming our planet. Explaining how without immense biodiversity, humans are in trouble, Conservation International clearly explains the link between biodiversity, health and resilience.
Green Team Resources
Conservation Objective (ECO) & Interdisciplinary Environmental Action (IDEA)
|Abington Sustainability Council||Peter Hornberger||Katie Odhner|
|Altoona DUS Advising Green||Joy Frank|
|Altoona Sustainability Council||Andrew Mack|
|Beaver Sustainability Council||Carey McDougall|
|Behrend Sustainability Committee||Sherri Mason|
|Berks Green Team||Mahsa Kazempour|
|Brandywine Sustainability Commission||Mark Boudreau||Julie Stanton|
|DEVinitely Green Hershey||Samantha Moore|
|Fayette Chancellor’s Office||Billie Jo Yuhaniak|
|Fayette Green Team||Barry Polowski|
|Great Valley Sustainability Council||Becky Stanko|
|Greener Allegheny||Louise Aravich||Lorraine Craven|
|Lehigh Valley||Denise Ogden||Karen Kackley-Dutt|
|Harrisburg Sustainability Council||Rick Ciocci|
|Mont Alto Sustainability Committee||Kristi Addleman||Charlene Saeman|
|New Kensington||Ruth Herstek|
|Schuylkill||Julie Meyer||Mary Ann Smith|
|ShenanGO GREEN||Tony Paglia||Tammy D’Artenay|
|Scranton Sustainability Council||Teresa Black||Gene Grogan|
|Wilkes-Barre Sustainability Council||Erin Brennan||Susan Gross|
|PS York Sustainability Council||Fulgentius Lugemwa|
|Green Teams at University Park||Contact(s)|
|BURSAR: Better Understanding Recycling, Sustainability, and Resources||Kelley McCord|
|Values in Action (VIA) Team||Debra Thurley|
|Green Innovations – Investment Office||Karen Hammel|
|Office of Student Aid|
|Office of the President Green Team||Marissa Shamrock|
|Office of the University Registrar|
|Research Accounting||Cissy Reese|
|University Libraries||Harlan Ritchey|
|Bennett Family Center||Kendra Adkins|
|Hort Woods||Jaylene Manuel|
|Finance and Business:|
|Office of Physical Plant|
|Parking Office/ Tranportation||Cecily Zhu|
|Residential Dining||Jaime Robinson|
|Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center||Brian Sedgwick|
|Penn State Arboretum||Jenn Hooven|
|Old Main & Career Services||Jane Millar||Katrena Keeler|
|CAPS Mini Green Team||Susanna Hummer|
|Center for Spiritual and Ethical Development||Rachel Galloway|
|HUB Green Team||Mary Edgington||Jennifer Keen|
|Residence Life||Heide Port||John Hurst|
|University Health Services||Michele Brown|
|Campus Recreation||Jason Erdman|
|Academic Colleges & Institutes:|
|Plant Pathology & Environmental Microbiology||Judy Sinn|
|Zero In (Ag Engineering)||Chris Costello|
|Arts and Architecture|
|Borland Green Team||Deborah Gulick||Brendan Berthold|
|Center for Performing Arts||Keith Brainard|
|COMMunity Green Team|
|Division of Undergraduate Studies|
|DUS Green Team|
|Earth & Mineral Sciences|
|Dutton e-Education Institute Green Team||Matt Bugaj|
|Earth & Environmental Systems Institute||Sarah Potter|
|EMS Deans Office||Karen Royer|
|EMS Ryan Family Student Center||Michael Gordon|
|Energy and Mineral Engineering Department|
|Energy Institute||Jennifer Matthews|
|Geography Department||Lucille Laubenstein||Jodi Vender|
|Geosciences Department||Suzanne Godissart|
|Materials Science and Engineering Department||Seda Oturak|
|Meteorology & Atmospheric Science Department||Marisa Ferger|
|College of Education||Boni Richardson|
|College of Engineering Green Team||David Jones||Lauren Rodgers|
|Health and Human Development|
|Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center||Brian Sedgwick|
|Information Sciences and Technology|
|IST Building Green Team||Lisa Crownover|
|College of Liberal Arts Sustainability Council||Austin Boyle|
|Psychology Department Green Team||Nick Pearson|
|Pond Lab Green Team||Allison Haas|
|College of Medicine Green Team||Savannah Marshall|
|Nursing Simulation Lab||Kristal Hockenberry|
|Chemistry Department||Russel Saieva|
|Land and Water Green Team||Lydia Vandenbergh|
|The Huck Green Team|
|University Park Green Teams||48|
|Commonwealth Campuses Green Teams/Sustainability Councils||23|
|Total Penn State Green Teams||72|
Penn State’s Green Teams initiative officially began in the summer of 2009, and since then these volunteer groups have engaged their peers and worked to expand their understanding of sustainability. Their activities have covered topics from reduction of waste to recycling, health and energy, to biodiversity, spanning most of the SDG goals. Continue reading to learn more about the positive changes Green Teams have made to save resources, both financial and natural, and to improve the health and happiness of our community.
The Communication Green Team’s freeshop was set up similarly to a yard sale around their building’s lobby. Office members donated their unwanted goods to the freeshop and the items were displayed for two days to find a new home. Almost all of the items were taken and the rest were able to be recycled. “I think the freeshop made faculty, staff and students more aware of the recycling efforts that are shaping the College’s sustainable culture,” said Johnson. “It also increased awareness of our GT’s presence in the College and allowed those participating to feel good about actually doing something instead of simply talking to raise awareness for sustainability.”