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Given Auburn’s commitment to sustainability as a core value and guiding principle for its operations, instruction, research, and outreach, it makes an excellent topic for Auburn faculty and staff to explore as a part of their professional development.  To get you started, we’ve assembled some resources you may find useful as you begin to consider sustainability as an ethic, concept, and practice. Each of these tips directly relate to one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For information on the SDGs, check out our Sustainable Development Goals page. For more tips, check out our Sustainability Guides. 


Auburn's Memberships

Through various units on campus, Auburn holds memberships in organizations focused on sustainability.  By using your Auburn credentials to set up your own individual account, you can tap into the wide-range of resources these organizations offer, including webinars, conferences, workshops, publications, newsletters, case studies, and more.


Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

AASHE is the leading association for the advancement of sustainability in higher education. They serve a full range of higher education faculty, administrators, staff, and students.  They offer a weekly bulletin, workshops, webinars, and an annual conference.  They also host the Campus Sustainability Hub, which is a one-stop shop to access toolkits and resource collections about all aspects of sustainability in higher education, from academics to operations to governance.



United States Green Building Council (USGBC)

The USGBC seeks to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.  USGBC oversees the LEED building certification and credentials program, provides educational offerings, publishes research on green buildings, & provides policy guidance. They also host the annual Greenbuild conference.

Yearly Conferences

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

USGBC — Greenbuild

Green Sports Alliance Summit

International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic, & Social Sustainability

Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council Summit

Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit

Alabama Water Resources Conference

Educational Resources, Documentaries, Talks & Courses

Office of Sustainability Blogs with Videos

Educational Resources Through AU’s Memberships & Affiliations

Courses on LinkedIn Learning (log in with AU credentials)

Understanding Sustainability Through Illustrations

TED Talks

TED (Technology, Entertainment, & Design) hosts a wide-range of talks (all 18 minutes or less) on topical areas intimately related to sustainability.  To get you started, we’ve curated a few of the bigger picture talks, but we encourage you to explore their entire catalog of offerings.

Story of Stuff Project

Documentary Trailers

Let these documentaries lead you right into an engaging conversation. Watch the trailers of the videos below to find one that interests your group and then host a discussion. Many of these films have been previously screened here on campus.  For some of the films, we have compiled some possible film discussion questions for each film to get you started.


With over 13,000 people in Auburn University’s workforce, the choices we make when taken together have a considerable impact on the environment, finances, the community, and the individual and collective wellbeing of ourselves and others.  Imagine how many ways things could improve if we all practiced just a few of the many proven sustainability strategies. For employees interested in educating and empowering members of the Auburn family to lead and connect the campus community in cohesive efforts toward sustainability, please consider joining our Peers Network.

To get you started, we compiled a list of some basic sustainability actions for the workplace, and have also created an Auburn Employee Sustainability Connector guide.  If you happen to work in a lab, you can also find some great information and action steps through Green Labs at Auburn University. So, gather your colleagues and think about what you might do together to help jumpstart sustainability in your department.  Each effort can help ensure that Auburn is doing its best to conserve resources and provide a healthy work environment for everyone.

At Your Desk

Energy IconSDG7SDG 12Skip using a screen saver.

Energy IconSDG7SDG 12Set your computer(s) to automatically sleep after no more than 10 minutes of inactivity.

Waste IconSDG7SDG 12SDG 15In programs like Word and Excel, set your default margins to be 1 inch or less.

Energy IconSDG7SDG 12Turn off monitors, printers, and other electronics at night, during weekends, and on vacations.  Better still, you can unplug them to eliminate phantom power loads.

Energy IconSDG7SDG 12If you have a desk lamp, use a compact florescent or LED bulb.

Energy IconSDG3SDG 13Bring a sweater rather than using a space heater.

Waste IconSDG 12If you have desk-side trash baskets, request a desk-side recycling bin from the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department.

Wellbeing IconSDG3Set an alarm on your computer or phone for no more than 45 minutes as a reminder to get up and move around for a bit.  If you can, look into getting a convertible sitting/standing desk.

Common Spaces

Energy Icon Community IconSDG 9SDG 12SDG 17Work together to determine the need for electronics and appliances (e.g.– printers, microwaves, coffee makers) and consolidate where feasible.

Energy Icon Community IconSDG 9SDG 12SDG 17Establish a program to help ensure shared appliances get unplugged at night, on weekends, and during breaks, or use a programmable timer.

Waste Icon Community IconSDG 9SDG 12SDG 17Create a central area for shared office supplies. Use it to make available supplies you no longer use and get supplies before purchasing new.

Energy Icon Money IconSDG7SDG 9SDG 17Try to utilize daylight only, when possible. If lights are needed, be sure they are turned off when leaving a room and at the end of the day.

Energy Icon Money IconSDG3SDG 9SDG 12Be sure the thermostat is set to an appropriate temperature (68-71 degrees in winter; 75-78 degrees in summer).

Energy Icon SDG 9SDG 11SDG 13Close blinds in the evening to help maintain building temperature.

Water Icon Money IconSDG 9SDG 11SDG 12Report all water leaks to Facilities Management by submitting a work order.

Water Icon Money IconSDG 12SDG 14Don’t leave the water running when not directly in use.

Water Icon Waste IconSDG 12SDG 14Avoid using the toilet as a trashcan.

Waste IconSDG 9SDG 11SDG 12Recycle electronics, batteries, and toner/ink cartridges. Contact Waste Reduction & Recycling for information on bin locations or how to get one for your building/office.

Wellbeing Icon Community IconSDG3SDG 12SDG 15Bring air-cleansing houseplants to work.

Waste IconSDG10SDG 11SDG 12Send unneeded office furniture and durable goods to Asset Management for reuse by others.


Community Icon Money IconSDG 16SDG 17Set office-wide sustainability goals and post them in a prominent place as a reminder to coworkers and visitors.

Waste IconSDG 4SDG 11SDG 12Incorporate recycling/waste reduction strategies into new employee orientation.

Energy Icon Community IconSDG8SDG 12SDG 13Familiarize new employees with alternative transportation options for commuting and/or getting around campus.

Energy Icon Money IconSDG 12SDG 13Display reminders for the last one out of a room to turn off the lights.

Energy Icon Money IconSDG 11SDG 12SDG 13Prior to university breaks, send an office-wide reminder for coworkers to shut down computers and unplug electronics/small appliances.

Waste Icon Money IconSDG 12SDG 15Conduct paperless meetings.

Waste Icon Money IconSDG 12SDG 15Where legally possible, provide forms that can be completed and submitted electronically.

Waste Icon Money IconSDG 12SDG 15Review, share, and edit documents electronically.  Services like Google Docs, Box, and Sharepoint make this easier than ever.

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 12SDG 15Send and receive faxes electronically.

Waste Icon SDG 5SDG 12SDG 16Periodically remove your office from unwanted mailing lists with services through the Federal Trade Commission and TrustedID.

Everyday Tasks

Waste IconSDG 12Set printer(s) to print double-sided as the default.

Waste IconSDG 12Refill ink/toner cartridges instead of purchasing new.

Waste IconSDG 12Print in draft quality when possible.

Waste IconSDG 12SDG 13SDG 15Provide a collection bin for paper that has only been used on one side. Then reuse the paper for things like note taking.

Waste IconSDG 12SDG 13SDG 15Reuse old envelopes by covering old addresses with labels or reuse them for on-campus mail.

Wellbeing IconSDG3SDG 12SDG 13Use the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.

In the Breakroom

Waste IconSDG 12Utilize reusable dishware instead of disposables.

Waste IconSDG 12Avoid purchasing bottled water.  Offer tap water instead.

Wellbeing IconSDG8SDG 12SDG 16Purchase Fair Trade coffees and teas.

Wellbeing IconSDG3SDG 12SDG 16Purchase organic for common shared groceries (e.g. – milk, sugar, creamer, etc.).

Waste IconSDG 12Use cloth dishtowels and napkins instead of paper.

Wellbeing IconSDG3SDG 12SDG 16Purchase Green Seal or Design-for-the-Environment dish cleaning products.

Getting Around

Energy IconWellbeing IconSDG3SDG 11SDG 12Encourage walking, biking, carpooling, and Tiger Transit for commuting to work.

Energy IconWellbeing IconSDG3SDG 11SDG 12When meeting on campus, walk, bike, or use the Employee Shuttle instead of taking a car.

Energy IconMoney IconSDG 11When possible, hold e-meetings (teleconference/videoconference) instead of traveling for meetings.

Energy IconCommunity IconSDG 11SDG 12SDG 13When traveling outside of Auburn, reduce single-occupant vehicles by carpooling or taking a shuttle.

Energy IconMoney IconSDG 11SDG 12SDG 13When at your new destination, look for mass transit or shuttle options instead of renting a vehicle.

Energy IconMoney IconSDG 12SDG 13When you must rent vehicles for travel, choose fuel-efficient, hybrid, or electric vehicles.

Energy IconCommunity IconSDG 12SDG 13SDG 17Purchase carbon offsets when renting vehicles or purchasing plane tickets.

Energy IconWater IconSDG 12SDG 13SDG 16When booking lodging, look for hotels that have been certified for their environmentally-responsible practices through programs like Green KeyGreen GlobesLEEDGreen Seal, and Energy Star.


Auburn University has guidelines and preferences for sustainable purchasing in the areas of computers, paper, and green cleaners.

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 12Recognize the most sustainable purchasing option is to avoid a purchase altogether.  Work to reduce your overall purchasing budget for tangible goods by 5%.

Waste IconEnergy IconSDG 12Consider the long-term value and cost of goods, including maintenance and disposal costs.

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 12Consider repairing or refurbishing durable goods before purchasing new ones.

Waste IconEnergy IconSDG 12SDG 14SDG 15Use at least 30% post-consumer recycled content paper.  For an even greater impact, consider 100% post-consumer recycled content.

Energy IconMoney IconSDG 12SDG 13Avoid purchasing electric office equipment when manual options are feasible (e.g. – stapler, hole punch).

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 12Avoid purchasing single-use items.

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 9SDG 11SDG 12Check with Asset Management for options that meet your needs before buying new.

Energy IconWater IconSDG 6SDG 11SDG 12SDG 14SDG 15Consider third-party certifications that may apply to the type of product you’re purchasing (e.g. – Green SealEnergy StarDesign-for-the-EnvironmentFair TradeB-CorporationFSCSFIEPEAT).

Wellbeing IconWaste IconSDG 12When you must buy new furniture, look for low or no-VOC materials and/or natural/recycled materials.

Energy IconMoney IconSDG 12If possible, consolidate purchasing to minimize deliveries to campus.

Energy IconWaste IconSDG 12When ordering office supplies through Staples, simply check the ‘eco-conscious’ box near the top left of the page to see the wide range of sustainable options they offer in that category.

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 12Choose recycled content options for all purchases, when applicable.

Waste IconMoney IconSDG 12Consider purchasing in bulk for items that you consume in large quantities.

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A sustainable workplace requires an understanding of interconnections, and consideration of a variety of scales like personal, local, regional, and global. To help you identify the primary areas of impact for the listed strategies, we’ve included the following icons.

Community IconCommunity

Money IconEconomy

Energy IconEnergy

Waste LogoMaterials

Water IconWater

Wellbeing IconWellbeing

Sustainable Development Goals provide objectives focused on improving the lives of people and the health of our planet. Each Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) focuses on a specific area of need. To learn which goal your actions help achieve, the following icons are included.

SDG 1SDG 1: No Poverty

SDG 2SDG 2: Zero Hunger

SDG3SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

SDG 4SDG 4: Quality Education

SDG 5SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 6SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

SDG7SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

SDG8SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth

SDG 9SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, & Infrastructure

SDG10SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

SDG 11SDG 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

SDG 12SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

SDG 13SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 14SDG 14: Life Below Water

SDG 15SDG 15: Life on Land

SDG 16SDG 16: Peace, Justice, & Strong Institutions

SDG 17SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals