Home Office Assessment

Official Home Office Assessment 

The Challenge portion of the Home Office Assessment challenge has concluded. We would like to congratulate our top three winners of the Challenge. In first place Elliott Campbell with a score of 36.5 , second place Sierra Anderson with a score of 33.5 and in third place, Lucas Gasperik with a score of 32.5. Thank you to everybody who participated! The Assessment will still be posted for anybody who missed the challenge portion. It is a great way to see how your home office measures up in sustainability. The ranking site still has all the previous participants if you want to see how you compared.  

Since most people are encouraged to work from home, the Green Office Program is bringing our office assessment to you! Follow the guidelines below to complete a simplified version of the assessment we use to certify UCSC offices, then report your scores here.

Please note all links open in a new tab.

Emissions Assessment Questionnaire:

To assess how well you’re doing to reduce your GHG emissions, you’ll get 1 point for each of the following actions you’ve implemented.

  • Do you reduce your computer power usage?

Set your computer monitor to turn off automatically when you're away for more than 10 minutes, or shut it off manually when you're done or taking a break. Ensure that your computer has its energy saving features activated

  • Do you turn down the brightness of your monitor?

You wouldn't shine a light in someone else's eyes, so why do it to yourself for hours every day? Screens of all sizes should generally be about as bright as the surrounding light. Otherwise, you're harming your eyes, as well as wasting energy.

  • Do you reduce energy “vampire” use in common areas?

Make sure that items around your home are unplugged or in energy-saver mode when they're not in use. Use a power strip to turn them off at the end of the day.

  • Do you dress for the weather and adjust your thermostat? 

Wearing layers allows you to rely on fashion, rather than fossil fuels, to regulate your body temperature. See how large a range of temperatures you can be comfortable in before having to turn on heating or cooling. Heated blanket? Be conscious of using space heaters, they’re very energy intensive.

  • Do you replace all the bulbs inside and outside your home with LEDs?

Save money on your electricity bill by grabbing discount LED light bulbs from the Million LED Challenge. They last so long, if you’re a renter you might be moving with your efficiency investment for years! All UC faculty, staff, students and alumni can buy high-quality LED lights at a great price

  • Do you close the doors and windows?

If you're using a heater or AC, close the doors and windows. This will speed the warming or cooling process, while reducing energy waste.

  • Do you turn off your overhead light?

Open your shades and blinds every day to maximize natural light in your home and workspace. Rather than using an overhead light, try a task light — with an LED bulb for an extra energy-saving boost. Good lighting is important for healthy eyes, but workplace lighting can be overkill. Natural light is best for you and the planet.

  • Do you line-dry your clothes?

Be nice to your clothes! Line-drying your clothes helps them last longer, while saving energy and money.

  • Do you use sustainable transportation?

On occasion = 1pt. Whenever I can = 2pt.  

  •  Do you eat a plant forward diet?

You don’t eat red meat = .5pts. You’re a vegetarian = 1pt. You’re a vegan = 1.5pts

Water Assessment:

You will need one 32 oz (quart) container and a sharpie or tape. 

  1. Use a sharpie or piece of tape to divide your container into quarters (this is to assist with eyeballing).
  2. Turn your water on the highest force and fill up your quart container for 6 seconds.
  3. Multiply the number of quarts filled in 6 seconds by 10, then divide this number by 4 (60 seconds/minute, 4 quarts/gallon). For example, if your quart filled up 3/4 of the way, your equation would be (0.75 x 10)/4 = 1.9 gallons/minute.
  4. Record this number and repeat the process with all relevant faucets in your office/house - kitchen and bathroom sinks, showers, etc.  
  5. Remember that the water used for these flow tests can be used to water plants, do dishes etc.! 

"Low Flow" for bathroom faucets and showers = 1.2 gallons/minute

"Low Flow" for kitchen faucets = 1.8 gallons/minute

"Low Flow" for Water filters/aerators = 0.78 gallons/minute

If any of your faucets leak, use this online leak calculator to see how much water is wasted per day. Round up to the nearest whole number.

If you have an aerator on any of your sinks count those as low-flow faucets in your calculation. 


Scoring: What percent of your faucets are low flow or have an aerator? 

Water Assessment scoring guidelines
Water % of water faucets in home that are low-flow Score
0- 25% 7/10
25% - 50% 8/10
50% - 75% 9/10
75% - 100% 10/10
How much water do your leaks waste per day?
1 gallon wasted -1

Waste Assessment:

This step of the usual Green Office Certification Assessment involves dumping out an office's trash and recycling bins onto a tarp and using gloves to manually go through them to check for contamination. Please feel free to go all in on this step! If you do not feel comfortable, you can also visually scan your bins or estimate contamination levels based on your habits. And remember, reducing waste is the most important first step.

  1. Look over the Santa Cruz Recycling Guide PDF to learn about what can and cannot be recycled in the City of Santa Cruz. If it can be recycled in the City of Santa Cruz, it can most likely be recycled in Santa Cruz County, but here is the Santa Cruz County Recycling Guide. If you live in another area, look up your recycling guidelines online. 
  2. If you are doing the full assessment, lay out a tarp (inside or outside) and dump out your trash can onto it.
  3. With gloves, go through your trash and count how many items could have been recycled.
  4. Once you have this number, divide it by the total number of items in your trash, then multiply this by 100. For example, if you have 6 pieces of contamination, and there are 30 items in your trash, your equation would be: (6/30) x 100 = 20% contamination. 
  5. Repeat this process with your recycling bin.
  6. If you do not wish to manually go through your trash and recycling, you can visually scan your bins, possibly over the course of a few days as both fill up. Use your observations to estimate a percent of contamination. 

Scoring: What percent contamination was present in your trash and recycling bins? (Calculate and give points for each separately)

Waste Assessment scoring guidelines
Waste What percent of your trash should be in the recycling?
0-20% 5/5
20% - 40% 4/5
40% - 60% 3/5
60% - 80% 2/5
80% - 100% 1/5
What percent of your recycling should be in the trash?
0 - 20% 5/5
20% - 40% 4/5
40% - 60% 3/5
60% - 80% 2/5
80% - 100% 1/5
Doesn't have Recycling 0/5

Extra Waste Points: 

Extra Waste Points
Do you divert food waste from the landfill in some way?

+1 if sometimes

+2 if always

Have you visited your local municipality's recycling website? If applicable have you communicated with your housemates on what can and cannot be recycled?

+1 if you visited the website

+2 if you also communicated with housemates

Have you picked up any litter in the past week? +0.2 for every piece

Environmental Justice and Activism: 

"There is no environmental justice without social justice" - Greenpeace

In today's world there is no way to be sustainable without acknowledging social issues. In America and countries around the world, minorities are facing the worst impacts of our actions on the environment. For example, poor water quality in Flint Michigan and the Central Valley which is predominantly dominated by people of color. 

In order to create a sustainable world, we have to actively take a part in making it a more equitable world. 

Some actions that you can implement to contribute to this realm of sustainability is, 

1. Watch a documentary about racial injustice. 

One of the easiest ways to start your journey into activism is to educate yourself. Some recommendations are 13th, LA '92, I am Not your Negro, Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, and Flint. 

2. Learn about the local Indigenous populations and their history.

It is important to recognize the history and presence of Indigenous peoples and their enduring relationship to their traditional homelands. It's essential to recognize that most regions in America are unceded territories. Also, Indigenous practices and traditions can provide valuable insight on how we can be more sustainable and be better stewards of the planet. For example, the concept of controlled burns is an Indigenous practice that was once made illegal and now fire suppression has contributed to the most devastating wildfires the West Coast has seen in a century. 

To find out what land you are on you can text (907) 312-5085 with your zip code and it will respond with what Native land you are on. You can alternatively go to Native-Land.ca and it will also show you what native lands are in your area. 

To further your education, you can explore your local, native organizations and learn what you can do to support them. 

3. Find a local environmental or social justice issue that interests you and call or email your city, state, or federal representatives to voice your concern. 

One of the best ways to put issues on the radar of our government is to actually say something! If nobody says anything about an issue how will representatives know that it is important to their voters. 

4. Reach out to a local environmental or social justice group and see how you can help. 

Once you find an issue you care about, find a group in your area that advances your cause! It is a great way to develop your personal network and make your community a better place. A great place to start is to follow @ucscenvjustice on Instagram as well as watching the Introduction to Environmental Justice Video to learn more about the environmental justice movement.

5. Support small businesses, especially if they are owned by people of color!

Mega corporations are heavy contributors to the amount of emissions on our planet. By purchasing items locally, and from people of color, you are helping the local economy, the planet, and reducing racial inequality. Also if the small business focuses on sustainability-even better!!

Environmental Justice and Activism Points 
1. Watch a documentary about racial injustice

+1 for 1

+2 for more than 1

2. Learn about Native people in your area

+ 1 for learning whose traditional lands you occupy

+2 for researching their organizations and what you can do to support them

3. Find a local environmental issue that interests you and call or email your city, state, or federal representatives and voice your concern.  + 2 for calling or emailing your representatives
4. Reach out to a local environmental or social justice group and see how you could help. + 2 for finding a group and reaching out to help
5. Support small businesses, especially if they are owned by people of color!

+ 1 shopping locally when I can

+ 2 almost always shop locally


Final Steps:

Once you have completed all of the assessments and know your score for each one, head over to our form to report your scores! Thanks so much for participating in our Home Office Assessment Challenge, we hope you had fun!