Apr 2015
E-seals for acknowledging 2014 Competent Green Offices

GO!-ing Green: Tips and Trials

Since its launch in 2012, the Green Office Programme (GO!), a campus-wide platform that aims to promote green office practices in all CUHK offices, has been constantly evolving to become more user-friendly and comprehensive, thanks to helpful feedback provided regularly by its member offices. Early this year, two key activities, namely the submission of the annual 'GO! Checklist' and the 'GO!' Green Awards, were completed to obtain a better picture of the green performances of CUHK offices.

2014 GO! Checklist

The GO! Checklist contains 30 green actions that University offices are required to refer to when planning their daily operations and commit to the implementation of at least 15 actions, including mandatory ones. For 2014, 92% of the 107 participating offices* that returned the checklist fulfilled the requirements of the programme. These offices are acknowledged as 'Competent Green Offices' on the GO! website.

*While participation in ‘GO!’ became mandatory for all CUHK offices in 2014, offices that newly joined last November don’t have to submit the Checklist until December 2015

Most offices were able to fulfil at least 15 out of all 30 actions on the checklist. For mandatory actions, while most presented no challenge to member offices, the top three mandatory actions reported to be hardest to fulfil are:

  1. Using 100% recycled A3 & A4 white paper for in-house printing and photocopying.
  2. Complying with the mandatory requirements of the Green Purchasing Guidelines.
  3. Not providing single-serving bottled water at indoor events or corsages at all events.

Among voluntary actions, the one deemed hardest is '10% reduction in office paper use by end of 2014 (compared to 2012) and keeping a record of paper purchase figures for self-monitoring and continuous commitment'. Only 16% of offices that submitted checklists attempted this action.

Analysis and Suggestions

Purpose of Recycled Paper

Based on the fulfilment rates and feedback received, most offices are aware of the University’s Green Purchasing Policy and Green Purchasing Guidelines, which stipulate that compulsory purchase of 100% recycled A4 and A3 (white) paper for in-house printing/photocopying. The major challenges they face in using recycled paper (and on that same note, complying with the Green Purchasing Guidelines – as recycled paper is often cited as the most challenging item in the Guidelines) are cost, source of supply and technical concerns. A useful tip is that while recycled paper is not commonly available in stationery shops, CUHK units can purchase it at bulk tender prices comparable to or lower than the retail prices of paper made with virgin pulp, thanks to the Joint-University tender arrangement. For a list of suppliers offering this discount, please check the Business Office’s CUHK Centralized Tenders page.

Bottled water and Corsages

To reduce the environmental impact of single-serving bottled water, the University began to restrict the provision of these items for indoor events in February 2013. One of the easiest alternatives is to provide several large bottles (over 1L) of water and paper cups, which have a much lower carbon footprint compared to plastic bottles, for participants to share. Offices are also welcome to check out some more innovative and eco-friendly options by referring to the 'GO!' Resource Page.

Ten Per Cent Reduction in Office Paper Use

Monitoring and reducing office paper consumption, being a task that requires daily commitment and coordination, is understandably the least popular voluntary action on the GO! Checklist. However, according to the feedback from offices, it could be surprisingly rewarding: offices that put in the effort were able to reduce their annual usage by an average of 19.6%; one office in particular was even able to achieve an impressive 44.4% reduction!

<em>Image source: howell.org</em>

GO! Green Awards

The GO! Green Awards is a project that identifies common green actions (apart from those on the checklist) suitable for CUHK offices and acknowledges offices that already perform a large variety of these green actions. The survey received 161 responses from 83 offices.

Prizes will be awarded to offices that fulfilled the highest number of actions in this survey in addition to those in the 'Green Office Programme' Checklist. Details will be announced later.


The Sustainable Campus e-newsletter is published by the Information Services Office and the Campus Planning and Sustainability Office, CUHK.