McGill Sustainable Workplace Certification on a dark teal background

Sustainable Workplace Certification

McGill’s motto proudly states “by work, all things increase and grow” (Grandescunt aucta labore). We believe that changing the way we work can help us increase knowledge and grow the movement towards sustainability.

The Sustainable Workplace Certification program challenges the McGill community to foster healthier, environmentally-friendly, connected workplaces through individual and collective practices.

The program targets areas such as:

  • Choosing more environmentally-friendly and socially responsible supplies
  • Proper waste management
  • Promoting health and wellbeing
  • Learning more about how to make spaces more accessible to everyone

Since the program’s creation in 2017, more than 35 teams—including more than 600 individuals—have gone through the certification process.

How It Works

Teams can be certified as one of four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each level has about 14 actions and replacement 1 bonus initiative. Three quarters of team members must commit to all points to be certified. The actions are applied while working remotely and on campus.

Teams begin by identifying one or two members to be the group’s Sustainable Workplace Ambassador. The designated Ambassador(s) will complete a training session to develop their sustainability leadership skills, which will empower them to create meaningful and sustainable change in their workplace. They can then join the Sustainable Workplace Network to share ideas and best practices with peers across the university.

After attending the training, the Sustainable Workplace Ambassador(s) leads their group to complete the Bronze level checklist. Certification is achieved when the completed checklist and a team photo is sent to workplace.sustainability [at] mcgill.ca. The certified team is recognized publicly and give a digital certificate of recognition. Once the process is complete, the team can start to work on the next level. Certification is valid for two years, although teams are encouraged to verify their ongoing commitment every six months.


Currently Certified Teams

This list was last updated in March 2021. If you have any questions about this list, please email workplace.sustainability [at] mcgill.ca

  • Department of Geography 
  • Internal Audit Department
  • Office of Investments
  • Office for Students with Disabilities
  • Research and Innovation
  • Thomson House
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Department of Languages and Intercultural Communication (Continuing Studies)
  • Enrolment Services (Admissions)
  • The Engineering Undergraduate Society (Office and Services)
  • Geographic Information Centre
  • Institute for Aerospace Engineering and Institute for Advanced Materials
  • Office of Advising and Student Information Services (Arts OASIS)
  • School of Physical & Occupational Therapy
  • McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL)
  • Maude Abbott Medical Museum
  • Faculty of Law Admission
  • Science Faculty Internships and Field Studies Office
  • Geography Advising Office
  • Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
  • Department of Chemical Engineering 
  • IT Communications (IT Services)
  • McGill Office of Sustainability 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I participate?

There are many reasons to participate in the program:

  • Feeling satisfaction of working on a rewarding project that results in concrete impacts
  • Recognition to the McGill community for your commitment to sustainability
  • Align your team’s daily operations with their values
  • Collaborate with team members to make the workplace more enjoyable and responsible
  • Help your unit save money on office supplies (e.g. by reducing printing, reusing materials)
  • Use your creativity in a fun way!

Who counts as my team?

Your team can be as large or small as you think is appropriate. The Sustainable Workplace Ambassador is responsible for presenting information to the team, coordinating the efforts, and liaising with the Office of Sustainability to submit documentation. It is paramount that at least 75% of the team is aware of and actively commits to the actions. In some cases, having a large team may be hard to motivate or communicate with. Some teams may be entire units, while other teams may be a certain floor of a building. Your team can include staff, faculty, and students.

I can’t get 75% of my colleagues to sign on to the actions. What should I do?

If some of your team members seem unable or unwilling to commit to the actions, there may be several approaches. First, it is important to approach the stakeholders (anyone who will be impacted by this) to see what their point of view is. Perhaps they are too busy, uninterested, concerned that it will negatively impact their work, or unaware of the program. Taking the time to speak with them in a team setting or as individuals can help you understand their concerns and adapt the approach accordingly.

Joining the Sustainable Workplace Network and meeting with the Office of Sustainability can also help get ideas on how to increase participation in the initiative. To learn more, email workplace.sustainability [at] mcgill.ca

Do I have to go through the certification stages one by one?

Yes, every office starts with Bronze and can make their way through each subsequent level all the way to Platinum. The Sustainable Workplace Certification transforms the culture of sustainability in an office by asking individuals to commit to concrete steps in their office. Each certification level is valid for two years, and can be renewed.

How long is the certification valid?

Each certification level is valid for two years. Since individuals and office operations can change over time, it is recommended to check every 6 months that the team is still committed to doing the actions. After the certification has expired for the highest level achieved (e.g. Gold), the team must resubmit their updated completed checklist and team photo.

Where did these actions come from?

The Sustainable Workplace Certification Program was developed in 2017 and inspired by many other universities which have “green office” certifications. Since sustainability at McGill also includes a strong social component, our certification was expanded to cover ideas relating to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. In 2021, the checklist was updated for the remote and return-to-campus context.

Our Sustainable Workplace Program is aligned with McGill’s three long-term sustainability targets: STARS Platinum rating by 2030, becoming zero waste by 2035, and carbon neutrality by 2040. McGill participates in STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to evaluate the institution’s progress. The Sustainable Workplace Program stemmed from our previous Vision 2020 Strategy action to develop initiatives to increase staff involvement in sustainability.

Since collaboration with other units and perspectives is so integral to sustainability, the actions were developed and updated through collaborations with other groups on campus.

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