University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899
Legends parking lot is home to Appalachian’s 4-plug solar-powered EV charging station.
Legends parking lot is home to Appalachian’s 4-plug solar-powered EV charging station.

Green Workplace Certification

Appalachian State University strives to continue to expand our sustainability education by offering faculty and staff the opportunity to become more sustainable in the workplace. This certification is meant to be a tool to educate and develop habits that promote a more sustainable office environment.

This certification recognizes campus work spaces that have taken extra steps to ensure they are contributing to the sustainability goals of App State by greening their space, and lowering their daily impact.

The ACT Office in Plemmons Student Union achieved the Grandfather Mountain level in the Green Workplace Certification program.

Certification is contingent on completing all prerequisites and filling out the online form. This certification is completely voluntary, and the Office of Sustainability will offer advice and assistance if requested. The certification lasts for three years, but can be completed as often as you choose to achieve a higher score.

Use the certification as a way to promote sustainable actions within your workplace! The Sustainability Categories are as follows:

  1. Energy & Water
  2. Food & Events
  3. Health & Wellness
  4. Purchasing
  5. Service & Community Engagement
  6. Social Justice
  7. Transportation
  8. Zero Waste

Certifications levels (a reflection of our local landscape):

Rocky Knob - 50-70
Howard’s Knob - 70-140
Elk Knob - 140-210
Grandfather Mountain - 210+

  • Unmarked questions are worth one point each, questions with a * are worth three points, and questions with ** are worth five points.

Sustain Yosef Workplace Certification Checklist

Green Workplace Guide

Please review prior to signing up to go through the Certification Process. These items need to be completed before completing the Workplace Certification Form:

  • Assign a sustainability coordinator to liaison with the Office of Sustainability
  • Send an email to for a consultation
  • Implement the mini-bin system for waste collection (containers available at central warehouse)
  • Schedule a green suite training with the Office of Sustainability by emailing
  • Sign the Appalachian Sustainability pledge
  • Familiarize yourself with the Sustain Office website:
  • Familiarize yourself with the provided resources throughout this questionnaire

For your review, below is the same information provided on the certification form questionnaire:

What is the name of your office or department?

  • What is the name of your office or department?
  • Who is your Sustainability Coordinator?
  • How many people work in your office full-time?
  • Most questions are worth 1 point. Questions marked with '*' are worth 3 points. Questions marked with '**' are worth 5 points.

Energy and Water

Resources for this section:
Facility Operations Green Initiatives
Energy Star - Office Energy Savings
Green Living Guide

**Have you identified a plan to reduce energy when not needed? (Such as managing load at power supply, turning off computers, unplugging electronics)

*Do you have control over your thermostat, and keep it set at 68 (or lower) for heating, and 78 (or higher) for cooling?

Does your workplace utilize natural light when possible and make sure all lights are turned off in rooms that are not in use?

Are electronic devices plugged into a smart power strip or unplugged when not in use?

Does your workplace utilize localized light sources (ex: small lamps) instead of overhead lighting when possible?

*Are LED bulbs utilized for lamps and office lighting fixtures?

**Are large electronics such as printers, copiers, scanners, coffee pots or refrigerators shared by all employees?

Are computers and electronics turned off at the end of the day and on weekends?

*Does your workplace discourage the use of space heaters?

**Do employees ensure that water in your workplace is never left running and all leaks are reported to maintenance immediately?

Have power settings on all monitors been set to sleep after 3 minutes of inactivity?

Are doors and windows typically closed when heating or cooling?

*Has your office designated an individual or group to be responsible for checking all computers are turned off and blinds closed at the end of every day?

Have you gotten a quote from Facilities Operations on water bottle refill stations or other energy/water retrofits?

On cold winter days, are blinds open during daylight hours and closed at night?

On hot summer days, are blinds closed during daylight hours and open at night?

INNOVATION: Have you come up with any other energy/water saving measures for your workplace?

If you answered "yes" to the final question in the previous section, please describe the new energy/water saving measure(s)

Food and Events

Resources for this section:
Campus Dining
Watauga County Farmer's Market
High Country Food Hub
Office of Sustainability Green Events

Do employees pack their own lunch in reusable containers?

*Do employees have access to reusable cups/silverware for use during their coffee, lunch breaks, etc.

Do employees bring their own dishes and utensils when traveling to outside office events to prevent using paper products?

Do employees eat at on-campus dining locations?

Are employees aware of the produce available through on-campus gardens?

*Do employees regularly reduce unnecessary food waste by saving leftovers or preventing excess meals when making food, etc.?

Do employees know about and shop at the local farmers market?

Do any employees garden or raise their own food? It could be as simple as putting herbs on your window sill.

Does your workplace choose local options for catered events?

*Does your workplace choose vegan/vegetarian or healthy options for catered events?

*Is leftover food from office events distributed or donated to reduce waste?

**Do you order water in reusable or refillable containers, instead of individual bottles?

Do you order buffet style dining instead of individual meals?

Are your employees aware of or participate in local or community gardens?

*Are bulk containers of condiments available in a shared refrigerator to prevent use of small packets?

*Does your office use a shared drip coffee maker?

Have you planned a Zero Waste event or do you commit to a Zero Waste event in the future?

INNOVATION: Does your office do anything else related to sustainability in Food & Events?

Health and Wellness

Resources for this section:
Health Promotion for Faculty & Staff 
University Recreation & Outdoor Programs 
Counseling for Faculty and Staff
PFAs Explained

Are Health & Wellness campus resources made available to employees?  Are those posted in the office or emailed regularly?

Has the entire office participated in any type of team building or recreational activity together?

*Do employees have flex time, which can be used for personal time off?

Have you improved your indoor air quality by adding indoor plants (at least one per person)?

*Does your workplace encourage and allow employees to participate in Health & Wellness activities for at least 30 minutes a day?

Does your workplace promote a positive work-life balance?

Do you have designated wellness areas where employees can stretch, exercise, walk, or play during breaks?  If not, are employees permitted to leave the office for these activities?

*Do you have a wellness coordinator (can be same as sustainability coordinator) who regularly makes announcements about wellness opportunities?

*Do you have a shared office refrigerator where employees can store snacks and healthy meal options?

Are music and art allowed and encouraged in your work space?

**Has your office made an effort to use products that do not contain high levels of harmful chemicals, such as PFAS?

Are employees encouraged to get to know each other and to interact socially?

Does your workplace permit working lunches in order to use lunch breaks for Health & Wellness?

Is a standing desk an option in your workplace?

**Does your workplace properly dispose of chemicals such as paint, bleach, cooking oil, and grease without pouring them down the drain?

INNOVATION: Do you have another way your workplace promotes wellness?


Resources for this section: 
Purchasing/Central Warehouse
Energy Star Certified Electronics
Historically Underutilized Businesses in North Carolina 2022

**Do you purchase paper products that are  at least 50% post-consumer recycled or tree free content?

*Do you manage and share office supplies and other consumables to prevent over ordering?

*Do you make supply orders in bulk to reduce deliveries and packaging?

Do you utilize Appalachian’s online marketplaces (YoMart, Central warehouse) for some orders?

*Do you attempt to find items in surplus first before ordering them new?

Are recycled or refillable ink and toner cartridges used?

Do you request that suppliers use the minimum amount of packaging necessary, or ensure that everything possible is recycled?

*Do you purchase eco-friendly and compostable office products?

*Do you consider sustainability when printing to try to minimize materials printed when possible?

Is information related to the environmental and social responsibility of products researched before ordering them?

Does your workplace purchase organic fabrics or recycled content fabrics when ordering shirts or uniforms?

*If purchasing electronics are they ENERGY STAR certified?

Are local products and local vendors routinely supported by your office?

Does your workplace purchase from Historically Underutilized Businesses when available?

*Does your workplace source products or office supplies from environmentally preferred or socially responsible businesses?

INNOVATION: Have you come up with any other ways of making purchasing more sustainable?

Service and Community Engagement

Resources for this section: 
Volunteer Contacts
Health Promotion
Community Resource Directory

Has your office participated in a group community service event or initiative?

Do employees know that they have up to 24 hours of volunteer community service leave each year?

Do employees utilize this leave to make a difference in the community?

Do you have a designated bulletin board or other place for posting tips and information about sustainability and green events?

Is information about your workplace’s sustainability efforts made available in your office? Or will you commit to adding it?

Are employees encouraged to attend sustainability themed events on campus? (Ex: Sustainability Film Series, lectures, events in the student union or Sanford Mall)

*Does your workplace periodically organize or participate in sustainable Initiatives?  Such as: a campaign like going paperless, bottle-less, or car-less for the day?

**Do you recognize staff members for their environmental stewardship efforts?  This could be verbal recognition, awards, or accolades.

*Has your office participated in any type of natural area cleanup events?  (This includes but is not limited to: streams, rivers, parks, or roadways)

Does your office encourage people to vote on voting day and allow time to do so?

Does your workplace typically try to collaborate with students, faculty, staff, researchers, or other campus and community partners to achieve departmental or sustainability goals?

**Have you inspired another office on campus to pursue the Green Yosef Workplace certification?

INNOVATION: Have you found other ways for your workplace to be engaged in sustainability?

Social Justice

Resources for this section: 
Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance 
Multicultural Student Development 
Counseling and Psychological Services 
LGBT Center 
Women’s Center
Native Lands Digital
Mountaineer Food Hub and Campus Food Pantry Network

**Has your office made an effort to be inclusive of all cultures, traditions, and beliefs of employees without compromise or complaint?

*Is your office aware of all of the food pantry and free store resources available for their employees? Do they make an effort to support these resources via donations?

Are all employees aware of the university’s online and in-person resources available for social justice, inclusivity and diversity?

*Are your office’s efforts to enhance inclusivity and diversity visible and clear to employees?

**Do employees feel comfortable displaying, practicing, and/or speaking about their culture, beliefs, and traditions in their workplace?

**Are all employees cognizant of the importance of respecting the culture, beliefs, and traditions of their peers in order to have a welcoming and inclusive workplace?

Does your office organize or offer charity/volunteer opportunities based on employee interest?

**Does your office support open dialogue about issues of discrimination or injustice?

Has your office displayed an acknowledgment of native peoples who occupied the land in prior centuries in their office or on their website? (see resources above)

INNOVATION: Have you found other ways for your workplace to be engaged in social justice?


Resources for this section:
Carbon Neutral Commuter Program
GreenTravel Program

**Does your office have 50% participation in the Carbon Neutral Commuter program?

*Does your workplace reduce unnecessary travel through conference calls, virtual meetings, or webinars?

Is telecommuting utilized as necessary?

*Do some employees carpool or vanpool to work?

Do some employees utilize bicycles for campus travel?

*Do employees in your workplace utilize the Appalcart bus system?

**Do employees who live near campus bike or walk to campus and other locations when feasible?

Is there bicycle parking located convenient to your workplace?

*When planning work trips do you research and utilize greener transport options? (ex: rideshare, buses, trains)

Have you discussed alternative transportation options at a recent staff meeting?

Has your office made available information about alternative transportation opportunities?

*Do you offset carbon dioxide emissions from some work related travel?

*Do you have a shared bicycle or other transportation system (office car, etc.) which can be used by any office employees?

Have you developed a formalized “GreenTravel” policy for your workplace (see resources above)?

INNOVATION: Have you come up with any other sustainable transportation initiatives?

Zero Waste

Resources for this section: 
Zero Waste
Facilities Operations

**Is daily recyclable waste (bottles, cans, mixed paper, etc.) placed in the appropriate bin?

**Are electronics, batteries, toner and ink cartridges and other e-waste recycled rather than thrown away?

*Is your printer default set as double-sided draft mode?

When possible, do you make copies double-sided?

Is a bin set up to reuse the backside of one-sided printing items for scrap paper?

Are reusable cups, dishes, and utensils used instead of disposable items?

*Do you have a bin or other system set up to reuse gently used office supplies instead of throwing them away or purchasing more?

Does your workplace reuse interoffice envelopes when possible?

*Is unwanted/junk mail recycled?

Do employees bring reusable bags for shopping during work hours, on or off campus?

Does your workplace clean out and donate unneeded materials regularly to keep space open for other uses and keep materials from being wasted?

Whenever possible are electronic files shared instead of printing documents?

Do you have a communal coffee pot, or if you have a single serve coffee maker (ex: Keurig) is it equipped with a reusable refillable cup?

INNOVATION: Does your workplace have another way of reducing your waste flow?