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Green Steps for Public Organisations

The University of Iceland is now taking the so called Green Steps. The Green Steps idea is originally from Harvard (Green-Offices), and the programme is designed to guide you through the process of greening your workspace.

The programme is monitored by The Environment Agency of Iceland under the direction of the Ministry for the Environment. It aims at helping public organisations / institutions to organise their daily practices in a more environmentally friendly way by following the five different steps from which the last one includes the implementation of the environmental management system ISO14001.

Each step includes six different categories:

  1. Communication and Management
  2. Transportation
  3. Purchasing
  4. Meetings and Events
  5. Waste Sorting and Waste Reduction
  6. Energy and Heating

Certain actions are required to reach each step, e.g. reduce paper, energy, and other consumption, use more environmentally friendly transportation, buy environmentally certified products, reduce waste. The criteria become more challenging with every step.

The example below shows one example from each step within the transportation category:

EXAMPLE, Transportation:

  • Step 1 – Bicycle stands are provided outside every university building
  • Step 2 – Shower facilities provided for walking and cycling staff
  • Step 3 – Bicycles provided for staff members to use during working hours
  • Step 4 – Special parking for eco-friendly vehicles

In the University of Iceland, two persons are working part-time on the implementation of the Green Steps, starting with the Main Building where the Central Administration is located. It is important to note, however, that this is a project for each and every staff member at the UI, and everyone needs to participate to make it possible.

Meetings have been held with all divisions and departments at the Main Building, and it seems as if the timing has been just right. People are really willing to participate and understand the importance of the project. One of the results has been that disposable plastic cups will soon disappear, and every staff member will get a reusable cup with their name. Extra facilities for washing are being installed, and waste sorting is getting better and better.

The Green Steps programme started in Iceland in November 2014. Today, 32 public organisations / institutions (the number is around 200 total in Iceland) with over 70 offices are registered (incl. The Parliament and The National Museum). The University of Iceland estimates that the implementation will take around 18 months before beginning work on ISO14001.