Children’s Research Center becomes first all-green certified center on campus

Savana Dunning

The Children’s Research Center, a UT child development research laboratory, officially became the first center on campus to obtain certification from both the UT Green Labs and Green Offices programs in April. 

Green Offices and Green Labs are student-led certification programs within the Office of Sustainability’s Campus Environmental Center that work with UT staff and laboratories to make their workspaces more eco-friendly through recommendation checklists and one-on-one consultation.

Avani Chhaya, the CRC’s senior outreach program coordinator, said the certifications were part of an effort by the research center to become more environmentally friendly.

“We want to continue to promote a green, sustainable future in every aspect of our organization,” Chhaya said. “We want to live by that Office of Sustainability motto: ‘Lead orange, live green.’”

The certification process started with Chhaya, who said she heard about the certification programs at a UT Staff Council meeting and began reaching out to the programs.

Brianna Duran, Campus Environmental Center coordinator, said the process was accomplished significantly through Chhaya’s leadership.

“It was really Avani’s lead on wanting to make it happen,” Duran said. “That’s really what’s required for Green Offices and Green Labs, it really takes a champion within the office or labs to want to make these sustainable changes.”

The process took two semesters this past academic year, during which the staff of Green Offices and Green Labs guided the CRC toward implementing more environmentally friendly changes to their laboratory practices, such as using eco-friendly equipment in laboratories and posting signs promoting energy conservation and recycling throughout their facility.

Urban studies senior Susan Ward, one of the student leaders in charge of Green Offices at the time who helped certify the facility, said certification is based on the increased sustainability of the facilities involved. The CRC received a silver certification from Green Offices, meaning the facility completed at least 60 percent of the recommendation checklist.

“(Green Offices) toured the office so I could give (Chhaya) better advice and she ended up making some changes,” Ward said in an email. “The Green Offices program is all about personal office growth through those little actions rather than compared to other offices.”

Duran said the CRC was the first center on campus to receive both certifications because of its unique position as both a research laboratory and an office space.

“It takes a unique situation where both Green Offices and Green Labs apply,” Duran said. “There aren’t a lot of labs that are also officelike, so the research center is sort of unique and the type of labs they have fall into both categories.”

Chhaya said the CRC’s sustainability efforts are not stopping at certification and that the center is looking at other ways to become more eco-friendly, from compostable food packaging to reusable utensils.

“We’re continuing to push forward,” Chhaya said. “This Green Offices, Green Labs program was the jumping off point so that we are able to implement more comprehensive programs and initiatives that better our organization.”