UCLA Central Ticket Office Cited for Sustainability Efforts by City of Los Angeles

By Karen Hallisey

An enterprise on campus, the Central Ticket Office (CTO), one might assume is responsible for a massive paper trail, is, in actuality, one of the most sustainable campus operations. CTO is an official Green Business, certified by the U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles.

The City of L.A.’s recognition program is designed to encourage businesses and organizations to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. It was established to recognize and promote enterprises that commit to operating in a more environmentally responsible or sustainable manner.

CTO, located in the James West Alumni Center, services, processes, sells, and distributes movie tickets, theme park admissions, public transit passes, and more for on and off-campus activities. The office distributes more than 1.2 million tickets to over 500 events. CTO handles 20,000 walk-up customers at the office, processes 41,000 internet transactions, and answers over 26,000 calls annually.

To become a certified Green Business, CTO had to meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution, minimizing waste, and following environmental laws and regulations. The certification includes site visits with a coordinator, who helped CTO navigate the process.

Having already transitioned to paperless tickets, CTO wanted to take their sustainability practices further. For the certification, the office took specific actions, including installing energy-efficient lighting, utilizing programmable, smart thermostats, procuring Energy Star office equipment and appliances, using green cleaning products, and making accessible water stations available to cut back on single-use plastic (i.e., water bottles).

CTO also offers telecommuting and flexible schedules and provides storage for bicycles for two-wheelers. One original measure implemented was introducing writing tablets to take notes when assisting customers — instead of going through notepads of paper and pens.

Also, part of the checklist? A community category, with a requirement to establish a “Green Team” that meets regularly to create and integrate sustainability practices and encourage participation across the organization. Things like promoting recycling and reusing, reminding staff to set their computer monitor to sleep mode when stepping away or at the end of their work shift, and even adding indoor plants to the office that help improve air quality!

CTO staff member Jessica Valdez leads this Green Team, along with her colleague Joyce Lee. Valdez, who recently earned a master’s degree in social work from UCLA, is passionate about the connection between wellness and sustainability.

“Taking on this responsibility, I’ve realized sustainability really aligns with human health, and mental health, so this is good for my field. Sustainability is important to overall well-being,” said Valdez.

Along with engaging CTO’s workforce, which includes many part- and full-time student employees, in following sustainable practices, Valdez and Lee deliver quarterly presentations and produce a weekly newsletter filled with relevant facts, helpful tips, and opportunities for deeper involvement, such as participating in a local habitat restoration project or attending a talk on water conservation efforts in LA County. They even share meatless recipes.

CTO was prompted to make these changes in accordance with UCLA Sustainability efforts to support green campus office spaces as well as the University of California’s climate action goals to prioritize direct emissions reductions.