Form / Update Team
training & resources
existing teams


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 annual Green Team lunches 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.  Everyone on our list gets regular updates and announcements from our office via our AIR Newsletter for Green Teams specifically.
Green Team picture

How to Form A Green Team

  • Contact Lydia Vandenbergh to set up an orientation meeting or sign up for any of the monthly Orientation sessions available through the Learning Resource Network.
  • Identify co-workers who would be interested in working on greening your area and hold your first meeting. We’ve set out an agenda and suggestions for conducting your first meetings in this document.
  • Questions? Contact Lydia Vandenbergh for help.

Update Information

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

Green Teams are on the front lines of learning about sustainability, engaging others in that pursuit, and celebrating success. 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 GT Teams network provides 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 early 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 

Orientation and General Resources

Introduction to Sustainability at Penn State (SUS-002 in the Learning Resource Network)

This orientation will introduce Penn State employees to the concept of sustainability and how it relates to Penn State’s mission, strategic plan, and their role as employees. All segments of the university, from academics, research, operations, outreach and student affairs, are involved in this endeavor. We will offer many examples so that participants leave the one-hour session understanding ways to support the University’s mission to “ensure a sustainable future” and resources available for those efforts. Please join us.
If you would like to advertise this training in your unit, download this colorful flyer.

Upcoming Sessions:

  • Wednesday, October 20th at 9am
  • Thursday, November 18th at 1pm
  • Thursday, January 6, 2022 at 9am

Integrating Sustainability into your Goals and Competencies for PSU Performance Management (SUS-008)

Take this one-hour workshop to learn how to incorporate sustainability-related goals into your professional development planning. Participants will be guided through the goal development process, aligning personal goals with those of their unit’s and the University’s Strategic Plan priorities. With the upcoming Performance Management goal setting scheduled for June 1st to August 31st, this workshop will make the process easy.

Dates: Check the Learning Resource Network for upcoming dates. If you don’t see a date and want the training, please contact Lydia Vandenbergh.

Green Team Orientations

During this one-hour orientation, you will learn about the Green Teams program, its benefits and how to start one in your unit and share ideas with others. There is no cost for this training. We do ask that you register, whether or not you will attend in person, so that we can know how many people to expect. Sessions are offered almost every month via Adobe Connect, and some of them are also available in person. The full roster of dates and times and registration is available online.

Customized Orientations:

The above programs are presented by Lydia Vandenbergh of the Sustainability Institute. Customized orientations for groups of ten or more can be scheduled by contacting Lydia.

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.

Behavior Change

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.

Change the Way you Think

Change the way you look at your life, from your morning cup of coffee to the way in which your business is run.


The World Has Changed

Over the course of the past generation, the World has changed tremendously. See how it has, and how desperately this trend needs to continue.

Behavior Drivers: the BJ Fogg Model

To change behavior, the first step is to understand the behavior drivers. In this short video, BJ Fogg, a behavioral psychologists at Stanford, reviews the three elements that coincide for a behavior to occur: a trigger, motivation and ability. For a deeper dive into this model, visit this review.


Have you ever wondered why some ideas stick and others don’t? Step one is getting people’s attention and then inspiring them to take action. Have you struggled with how to talk about climate change? With the guides, activities and examples we’ve included in this section, your Team will be able to create enticing messages to engage your audience and prepare for talking about climate change, making an impact in the process.

Katherine Hayhoe narrates this short video explaining global warming in simple terms, demonstrating best practices in using metaphors and framing.

Earth DNA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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.

Katherine Hayhoe: “Fighting Cimate Change by Talking about it.”

Katherine Hayhoe is an evangelical christian and a atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University where she is director of the Climate Science Center. She also helps create tools for helping people understand climate change, such as her Global Weirding animated videos. In this TEDTalk video, Hayhoe describes talking about climate change by building off common experiences. She also wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times explaining that she surprises people when she claims that she does not “believe” in climate change because it is not a belief system. Read on to learn her reasoning for this claim.

Why Would IBM Conserve Energy?

Check our IBM’s commercial, explaining why they are so on-board with sustainability.

Caught Green-Handed

See what a few friends did at Denver International Airport on America Recycles Day to reward those who are helping the cause!


Energy use is the largest driver of Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions and it costs about $1 million each day to provide heat and air conditioning to our buildings and running the appliances that make our day to day work possible like computers and lights. The Physical Plant works consistently to increase efficiency of the buildings, which has reduced our energy use, and 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.

Clean Energy Manufacturing

Clean energy and advanced manufacturing have the potential to rejuvenate the U.S. manufacturing industry and open pathways to increased American competitiveness. Watch this video to learn more about this exciting movement and to see some of these innovations in action.

Smart Stripping

Have you ever heard of plugloads and how they can zap your monthly budget? Take a cue from this video on “stripping” out those unwanted taxes on your energy bills.

Earth: The Operators’ Manual

An operator’s manual helps keep your car or computer running at peak performance. Earth science can do the same for the planet. To illustrate the evidence and the way forward, host Richard Alley takes viewers on a High-Definition trip around the globe, from New Zealand to New Orleans, telling the story of Earth’s climate history and our relationship with fossil fuels.

Copy link: http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/feature-video/earth-the-operators-manual

Renewable Energy 101

With most discussions surrounding climate change, energy sources are a main component of conversation. Clean energy includes renewable energy sources that do not deplete the world’s natural resources. While this sounds like a simple transition, pros, cons, and feasibility needs to be taken into consideration.

Copy link: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/reference/renewable-energy/#close


Currently Penn State recycles about 58% of its waste, stopping it from ever reaching our landfill which is more than 70 miles away! In our recycling stations, located in each building, we offer ways to collect food waste, used paper, containers made of glass, metal and plastics so that they can be sent to manufacturers and turned into new products. You can learn more about ways to reduce waste and recycle what you do produce with the resources below! Pitch in and help Penn State “close the loop” on its waste.

Recycling Plastics at Penn State

Plastics have always been a questioned topic in recycling, from wondering what shapes can go where to what the number on the bottom means for recycling. Here, Penn State’s waste management team explains how our University deals with this sticky subject!

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15AnO4AIJ0I

Ruby Recycling

See what this Centre County family does in order to minimize their impact on our planet (and the landfill).

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpxDpn2gnN0

Centre County Waste Authority Tour

See what this Centre County family does in order to minimize their impact on our planet (and the landfill).

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekIR_B8jGuU

Happy Ever After

Our charismatic plastic bottles just want to be together! But it’s up to us to take responsibility. Are they going to end up in the landfill or do they get to be recycled? Will this story have a tragic ending, or a happy ever after?

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyskGSDNFzg

The Story of Stuff

This eight minute video explores the impacts of American’s consumption of more than half a million bottles of water a week. Where does that water come from, how is it tested, and what happens to those bottles when we’re done? Is there a better way to stay hydrated? Watch and find out.

Copy link: http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-bottled-water/

The Recycling Quiz

Wondering how well you understand recycling at Penn State? Here is a short quiz to help you assess your skills. You can use this quiz as to prompt discussion at a staff meeting by projecting it on a screen and completing it together. Don’t worry, the answers are at the end.


In its 2016 – 2025 Strategic Plan, Penn State defined sustainability as:
the simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations.

This comprehensive integration of sustainability into the University’s research, teaching, outreach, and operations will prepare students, faculty, and staff to be sustainability leaders.

Sustainability is a pursuit, a voyage of discovery, in which we can work together to forge solutions to the problems that are creating instability in our world. Below are some resources to expand an understanding of the term “sustainability,” how it relates to every person at Penn State, the factors threatening the quality of life for future generations, and suggested frameworks to create solutions. This section also includes resources to explore social justice issues.

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpxDpn2gnN0

Centre County Waste Authority Tour

See what this Centre County family does in order to minimize their impact on our planet (and the landfill).

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekIR_B8jGuU

Happy Ever After

Our charismatic plastic bottles just want to be together! But it’s up to us to take responsibility. Are they going to end up in the landfill or do they get to be recycled? Will this story have a tragic ending, or a happy ever after?

Copy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyskGSDNFzg

The Story of Stuff

This eight minute video explores the impacts of American’s consumption of more than half a million bottles of water a week. Where does that water come from, how is it tested, and what happens to those bottles when we’re done? Is there a better way to stay hydrated? Watch and find out.

Copy link: http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-bottled-water/


Trash can be heavy, mostly due to the food waste. If food is thrown into the trash, it costs the University money to haul it to the landfill 73 miles away and then it ends up just sitting there for years, unused. Penn State has a better use for unwanted food. Turn it into rich compost that can be used instead of chemical fertilizers to make our flower beds and bushes thrive. To get this waste to our compost center, just two miles from core campus, we need your help. Deposit your unwanted food, paper plates and other compostable materials into the green bins around campus. Use these links provided to learn more about composting on campus, as well as creating compost at home.

Composting at Home

Wondering how to bring the art of composting into your home life? This ten minute video will show you the ins and outs of creating and managing your own compost. Then you can create an even greener life at home!

Existing Teams

Green Team Resources

Green Team Contact(s)
Abington Environmental
Conservation Objective (ECO)
Karley Feather
Abington Sustainability Council Shelly Boyd Grinar
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
DuBois Michele Joseph
Fayette Chancellor’s Office Billie Jo Yuhaniak
Fayette Green Team Chad Long
Great Valley Sustainability Council Becky Stanko Parhum Delgoshaei
Greener Allegheny Justin Dandoy
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
ShenanGO GREEN Tony Paglia Tammy D’Artenay
Scranton Sustainability Council Dale Holen Gene Grogan
Wilkes-Barre Sustainability Council Erin Brennan Susan Gross
Green Teams at University Park Contact(s)
Administrative Units:
BURSAR: Better Understanding Recycling, Sustainability, and Resources Dennis Peterman Kelley McCord
Educational Equity
Values in Action (VIA) Team Debra Thurley
Green Innovations – Investment Office Karen Hammel Pam Nisewonger
Office of Student Aid
Office of the President Green Team Justin Lugin Marissa Shamrock Tarra Cassick
Office of the University Registrar Julie Conner
Research Accounting Cissy Reese
University Libraries Harlan Ritchey
Human Resources:   
Bennett Family Center Matt Bugaj
Hort Woods Sarah Gaffney
Finance and Business:
Housing David Manos
Office of Physical Plant Jason Smith
Parking Office/ Tranportation Cecily Zhu
Procurement Becky Fike
Residential Dining Jim Meinecke
Outreach (UP)
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center Brian Sedgwick
Student Affairs:
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
Boucke Amy Lukens
University Health Services Michele Brown
Campus Recreation Jason Erdman
Academic Colleges & Institutes:
Ag Admin Green Team
Zero In (Ag Engineering) Chris Costello
Arts and Architecture
Borland Green Team Diana Malcolm Deborah Gulick
Center for Performing Arts Keith Brainard
COMMunity Green Team Brenda Johnson
Division of Undergraduate Studies
DUS Green Team
Earth & Mineral Sciences
Dutton e-Education Institute Green Team Brandi Robinson
MatSE Green Team Laura Tetrault Eric Sagmuller
College of Education Boni Richardson
Smells Like Green Spirit Laura Fulton
Civil & Environmental Engineering David Jones
Health and Human Development
Nutrition Denise Lawson
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center Brian Sedgwick
Information Sciences and Technology
IST Building Green Team Lisa Crownover
Liberal Arts
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
Biology Howard Fescemyer
Chemistry Department Russel Saieva
Land and Water Green Team Lydia Vandenbergh
The Huck Green Team Jean Pierce
University Park Green Teams 48
Commonwealth Campuses Green Teams/Sustainability Councils 22
Total Penn State Green Teams 70


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.

Communication’s “Freeshop”

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.”