Green Office Model


Why a Green Office?

Universities can play a crucial role to create a sustainable and just world

Sustainable development is the largest challenge of our time, and education plays an important role in its achievement. Higher education, in particular, can make significant contributions by educating future decision makers on sustainability and acting as living laboratories to experiment with innovative solutions.

To achieve the vision of a sustainable university, all stakeholder groups should be invited to contribute. However, the compartmentalisation of universities makes it often difficult for people to collaborate across departmental boundaries. This is a problem, since sustainability efforts remain constrained to small islands of activity. Platforms need to be established to create bridges across those islands and offer more opportunities for people to contribute.

Student Green Office Canterbury

Living laboratories

Universities can act as living laboratories where solutions to sustainability are implemented, researched and taught (Photo: Student Green Office Canterbury)

What is a Green Office?

Empowering people and embedding sustainability

A Green Office is a platform that empowers the wider university community to act on sustainability. It also realises its own ideas to embed sustainability in education, research, and operations.

The first Green Office was established at Maastricht University in 2010. Since then, the model has been replicated by universities across Europe, and won the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development. The model is open-source – you can adapt and improve it to suit your needs.

Green Offices co-organise sustainability events, conduct overviews of sustainability courses, co-design new courses, lobby for waste separation and solar cells, or advise student groups and staff who want to act on sustainability.

The average Green Office consists of 5 student employees, who work 14 hours a week, and one staff member. Some Green Offices also engage students as volunteers. The average funding for a Green Office is €60,000, to pay for project expenditures and salaries. It is made visible through permanent office space and an online presence.

A GO is a sustainability hub that informs, connects and supports students and staff to act on sustainability (Photo: Leiden University Green Office)
A GO is a sustainability hub that informs, connects and supports students and staff to act on sustainability (Photo: Leiden University Green Office)

How to establish your GO?

Take 5 steps to design your GO and mobilise support from the university

Every establishment process is different in its own way, but students and staff share similar challenges they need to overcome. Based on existing lobby efforts, we compiled five steps that those lobby efforts had in common. You don’t need to exactly follow these five steps, but they provide you with inspiration:

1.  Form a team of like-minded people
2. Discover your organisation and the Green Office Model
3. Design your Green Office
4. Write the funding application
5. Pitch and submit your application

Establishing a Green Office is not easy, but dozens of students and staff have already done it. Dozens are doing it right now. You can do it too.

Welcome to the Green Office Movement!
Welcome to the Green Office Movement!

If you succeed: Congratulations, you have taken a significant step to advance sustainability at your institution. If you don’t, you will have learned a lot, raised powerful questions, and that may trigger something else. Change processes are often messy and unpredictable.