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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays

From our office:

With the holiday season upon us, we are reminded to reflect on what is important to us. Here at the Office of Sustainability, we are grateful to the UF community for all of the support and dedication you give to our collective efforts to realize a sustainable future for our institution, our state, and the world.

We hope that you have a joyful and relaxing holiday, and that you will take some time this season to reflect on how to make your holiday a celebration that is both joyful and sustainable—one that is focused on how to enjoy your blessings, rather than count the gifts or worry about the trimmings. We wish you moments of peace amid the bustle.

Thank you for all you do,

The Office of Sustainability

Tailgator Recycling

Tailgator Green Team Recycling celebrated its fourth year this football season. The program is more successful each year, with more volunteers getting involved and more seasoned tailgaters on the lookout for green-shirted volunteers handing out recycling bags to reduce waste.

Football game-days have a huge environmental footprint, with an estimated 16 tons of waste associated with each game. This year, the stadium also increased access to recycling, with a recycling bin for each trash can within the stadium. This effort, in conjunction with the Tailgator Recycling program captured nearly four tons of recyclables per game!

The Tailgator Green Team relies on a student intern from the Office of Sustainability for management, and exclusively on student volunteers to spread the word about recycling and distribute bags campus-wide. This year, Jordan Weinstein led the program, supporting over 190 volunteers who came from a wide range of student groups to help the cause. Volunteers donated more than 600 hours over the 7 home games.

“Everyone can make a difference by recycling their cans and bottles on Game Day,” said Weinstein. "We truly appreciate all the hard work the volunteers and the staffers put into helping to make this season a resounding success. Seasoned tailgaters know who we are now and are looking for our volunteers before they get out there. We're looking forward to growing success in the years to come."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trashformations 2009

At the end of November the Florida Museum of Natural History and Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives hosted the 11th Annual Trashformations program. Trashformations is a juried art competition open to all middle school, high school and college students in Alachua County. Each piece entered into the competition must be comprised of at least 70% recycled, recyclable or reused materials.

This year, over 40 entries were displayed at the Florida Museum. Each piece demonstrated new, expressive, and innovative ways to recycle household materials. With nearly 300 people in attendance, awards were presented in three divisions: middle school, high school and college. Awards were given to local students from schools including Westwood Middle, Oak Hall, Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. A winner was also selected from each division to receive a Waste Watcher Award, for artwork demonstrating the best use of recycled materials as well as a Museum Choice Award, for pieces with natural history related themes.

Award winning sculptures ranged in subject matter from a tree-hugging robot to a giant angler fish. Inspired by the positive feedback from the public, some Trashformations participants have even gone on to sell their recycled creations following the event. Trashformations provides students with a unique opportunity to display their work in a museum gallery and to gain public recognition of their skills.

For more information about Trashformations, please contact the Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives.

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Less Car Wraps As Alternative Transportation Increases

The second annual One Less Car challenge was a success, with nearly 1,000 people participating. More than 100 teams represented students, faculty, and staff from departments and units across campus. Together, One Less Car participants avoided over 260,000 miles of driving during the challenge. Through alternative transportation commutes, such as busing, biking, and walking, approximately 246,370 pounds of carbon dioxide were kept from entering the atmosphere.

The teams that used alternative transportation for the most miles were: The Office for Student Financial Affairs, The Florida Museum of Natural History, and The College of Dentistry. Final prizes were awarded to the teams with the highest average points per member: Extreme Backroads, Los Tamales Calientes, Radical Gainesville, Geography, and No glass on the bike lanes. Individuals also earned prizes for logging the most trips and avoiding the most miles of driving. Final prizes included: lunch from Satchel’s Pizza, bike tune-ups, Hippodrome Tickets, Gator Dining meal coupons, and tickets to the Butterfly exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The Office of Sustainability would like to thank everyone who participated this year and all of our sponsors for providing such great incentives to participate.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

FLMNH Enthusiastic For Sustainability

The Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) is dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting Florida’s biological diversity and cultural heritage. Research published by museum faculty, staff, and students working in Dickinson and McGuire Halls, as well as the public exhibits in McGuire and Powell Halls that interpret these works, aim to communicate the value of natural systems to policymakers and the public alike.

In line with its institutional purpose and the desire to serve as a model for sustainability practices, the FLMNH and its Green Team strive to implement best sustainability practices into the daily rhythms of museum life. The FLMNH Green Team is conscious of their resource consumption, with approximately 200,000 ft² of campus building space and nearly 500 staff and students.

Frequent reminders of ways in which staff and students can reduce their consumption of natural resources occur periodically via e-mail and staff meeting presentations. A number of initiatives are underway to reduce the impact of the museum and educate students, staff, and visitors. Early successes include:

• Reducing demand for printed campus and community phone directories by over 95%

• Partnership with the Physical Plant Recycling program for scheduled pickups of clean, glass specimen containers too large for standard campus bins

• High annual level of participation in the annual One Less Car alternative transportation campaign—this year, 76 team members avoided 22,642 miles of driving

• Responsible material usage by the graphic design department including a commitment to FSC certified materials and reusable event signage

• Eco-minded gift presentations at the museum’s annual holiday party in order to promote awareness

• Installation of towel bars and reusable towels near high-traffic sinks (in a nod to the UF International Center Green Team)

The Florida Museum has adopted Office of Sustainability Programs into our year-round operations, including “Think Before You Ink,” “Chomp Down on Energy,” and the “One Less Car” campaign.

Much work remains to be done and a number of great things are planned for 2010. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ZipCar Fleet Benefits Sustainable Travel Options

ZipCar is helping to make UF more sustainable by reducing the number of cars on campus. UF has partnered with the car-sharing company to make hourly rentals available to students, faculty and staff. Departments also can use Zipcars as an alternative to fleet vehicles. Individuals and departments can register and reserve cars online. The primary advantage of ZipCar to students is that "it allows people 18 and older to rent a car, when most companies require their customers to be 25 or older," according to Ron Fuller, Assistant Director of Parking and Transportation.

ZipCar, formerly FlexCar on campus, has been at UF for three years. Fuller stated that there has been a positive response to the program, receiving around "two to three applications a day--some days as many as five.” Zipcar usage gained momentum this fall, with August and September of 2009 having the highest rate of Zipcar usage on UF campus. Zipcar reported ithat the usage rate during September 2009 doubled from September 2008.

UF has worked with ZipCar to make a variety of cars available and ready on campus, including Honda Civic hybrids, Scion xB, Toyota Matrix and Honda Odyssey vans. These cars are conveniently parked on campus with reserved spots, so that customers do not have to waste time trying to locate parking. Reservations are made online and cars can be unlocked by a Zipcard or an iPhone app.

"The biggest advantage of and reason for having ZipCar available here on campus is that it is a tool for reducing single-occupancy cars coming to campus," said Fuller. ZipCar uniquely helps to address this issue by providing transportation in the small increments of time that people usually need a car, such as a trip to the grocery store. When used in conjunction with RTS, carpooling, or other methods of alternative transportation, ZipCar is a convenient and more sustainable substitute to driving alone.

ZipCar is an affordable alternative for both employees and students to bringing their own car to campus. For individuals, it costs just $35 to sign up, which includes $35 of free driving. Departments can sign up for free, and set up Zipcar accounts that will bill directly to a PCard. Gas and insurance for the vehicles are included in the rental fees, currently $8/hr or $66/weekday. The online application process is quick and easy to navigate at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sustainable Movements At The Phillips Center For The Performing Arts

The Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has been presenting established and emerging national and international artists and performers since opening its doors in 1992. As a performance facility, the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA) uses a large volume of energy –in part through its stage lighting instruments. As UF moves toward sustainability, the PCPA is taking steps to “green” the facility and encourage its users to become more sustainable.

With the help of the PCPA’s Green Team, energy use has been reduced by replacing all of the facility’s performance lighting instruments. At 575 watts, the new High Performance Lamp (HPL) produces light equivalent to a 1,000 watt spotlight using previous technology. This lower amount of energy consumption saves money on electricity and creates less heat.

The PCPA has also replaced as much of the lighting in its dressing rooms and house aisles with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). In addition, the PCPA programmed its main auditorium lighting so that only one-quarter of the available lighting fixtures are on - at 50% intensity - during most work days.

Along with the lighting efforts, the PCPA is encouraging its performers and audience to recycle and reduce waste. With recycling bins prominently displayed and encouraging use of water coolers as opposed to 20 oz. bottled water, the PCPA is beginning to make some headway in its waste and recycling efforts backstage and front-of-house. Similar to the UF dining and catering services, the PCPA is gradually transitioning toward purchasing more sustainable food and refreshment options for its events and receptions.

Lastly, the PCPA is working on its newest initiative called “4-Star Parking.” Audiences are encouraged to carpool with four or more people in a vehicle and in return gain priority parking at the facility – a parking privilege normally reserved for upper-level donors. Phillips Center staff realize that transportation to performances at the PCPA has even greater impact than the facility itself, so they looked for incentives for the audience to join UF’s sustainability efforts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes Visits UF

Blake Mycoskie, the founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, visited UF last week and spoke to students, faculty and community members. More than a thousand guests attended his lecture at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on November 4th to hear the story of TOMS shoes.

The company is known for its innovative One for One philosophy - TOMS Shoes donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased from the company. Mycoskie shared the story of how he started TOMS Shoes after going to Argentina and attending a shoe drive hosted by a local organization. He realized that charity alone would not be able to fund new shoes for these children and that relying on a giving business model would offer a better long-term solution.

Mycoksie encouraged students in the audience to follow their passion and look for companies that value service and sustainability when seeking a job. He also said setting a company goal with a higher purpose tends to attract dedicated and passionate employees. After Mycoskie's speech, the winning video of the UF Entrepreneurship and Innovation Video Contest was announced and debuted at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

In conjunction with his visit and speech, the Office of Sustainability held a Style Your Sole event at the Reitz Union Colonnade on Wednesday, November 3rd. During this event, students and faculty purchased canvas TOMS Shoes to decorate with paint, glitter, markers and more. Student organizations are planning another Style Your Sole event and an airing of the TOMS Shoes documentary at the Reitz Student Union during the third week of November.

The series of events in conjunction with Mycoskie’s visit was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, ACCENT, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, UF MBA, the Center for Leadership and Service, Gators Going Green and New Student Programs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IFAS Statewide Energy Efficiency Campaign for Homeowners

As more consumers struggle with record-breaking energy costs and rapid urban growth puts a strain on Florida’s natural resources, the University of Florida’s Extension service's public awareness campaign promotes the effective use of energy and discourages all forms of energy waste. UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) initiated the statewide campaign aimed at the state’s current and future residents.

"Everyone is concerned about soaring energy costs and water conservation, but the problem is more challenging here in Florida because our population continues to increase by more than eight hundred residents every day," said Pierce Jones, director of UF’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities. "That kind of growth--along with the needs of our existing population for energy and water--is taking a tremendous toll on the state’s natural resources."

Publications are available online with tips on topics such as air conditioning, ceiling fans, lighting, insulation, water heaters, irrigation, climate change, and reducing the "carbon footprint". For more information about energy efficiency, conservation, and sustainability, please visit the Sustainable Living section of Solutions For Your Life.

Jones said many residents come from states with different climates and ecosystems, and they may not be aware of Florida’s fragile environment.

"Much of the damage to the state’s natural resources is due to a simple lack of awareness about our ecosystems and how homes interact with the environment," he said. "There are many ways that people can save energy and water in their homes and landscapes, which will help not only the state’s natural resources, but their own economic situations as well."

After years as the nation’s fourth-largest state, Florida is poised to become the nation’s third largest state--after California and Texas--sometime in the next few years, underscoring the urgent need for energy and water conservation now, he said.

Original article courtesy of UF IFAS.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Renewable Energy Considered At Power Shift Conference

On October 24th, students from across Florida gathered at the University of Central Florida to discuss strategies for achieving positive change toward a more sustainable energy future. The event, Florida Power Shift, lasted for two days and consisted of a series of lectures, workshops, and breakout groups designed to allow students to brainstorm and network among themselves.

Students also heard from representatives of various groups who work in renewable energy and sustainability, such as the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, Campus Progress, and the Alliance for Climate Protection. Issues discussed ranged from local to global concerns about sustainable energy. Alex Mourant, a former intern and Vice President of Internal Affairs of Gators for a Sustainable Campus, attended the conference as part of a group representing UF.

"Power Shift gave us the chance to get together and set up a game plan for the Renewable Energy fee," said Mourant. The UF Renewable Energy ballot referendum was passed in 2006, with 78% voting in favor of the $.50/credit hour fee. It is now a piece of state legislation that when approved will support renewable energy sources for the UF campus. Similar efforts are underway at other Florida institutions.

"We're going to work with legislators through petitions, letter writing and phone banking to try and promote more sustainable energy policy,” said Mourant.

The student groups at PowerShift resolved to keep in touch with one another to maintain focus and stay on track with their efforts. They plan to periodically conduct conference calls to stay up-to-date on efforts throughout Florida.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Take the Challenge - One Less Car Day

University of Florida faculty, staff, and students are going strong with their commitment to alternative transportation through the One Less Car Challenge. The Office of Sustainability encourages everyone to give alternative transportation a try on One Less Car Day, Oct. 23, and throughout the semester.

One Less Car events will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on October 23rd at the Reitz Union North Lawn. It will feature a fun scavenger hunt and "fix a flat" challenge that participants can complete to earn prizes. Also, there will be games and prizes announced throughout the event.

Take alternative transportation to campus, and then come out to celebrate and take part in the fun. Prizes will be awarded to participants and attendees, including coupons for lunch and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Those interested in taking part in the challenge can still start or join teams, and log the miles they commute every day with easy-to-use online software. Points are awarded for each trip traveled by alternative transportation, including walking, biking, busing and carpooling. This year, the challenge encourages participants to “invite a friend”, and earn bonus points through referrals. Each person will receive a button indicating the mode of transportation they have pledged to take, which can be worn year round.

Registration for the One Less Car challenge is ongoing. Members of the UF community can find out more information, sign up for the challenge, and join a team online at our One Less Car webpage.

FESC Summit Held

The 2009 Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) Summit was held at the University of South Florida on September 29 and 30. Many researchers from the State University System gathered at this annual event to share information and showcase FESC research.

At the summit, one of the presentations by researchers from Florida State University discussed a project they have been working on involving studies on Energy and Sustainability in Florida Communities. Richard Feiock and Ivonne Audirac study the interactions and roles within Florida communities involving governmental implementation of sustainable practices and policies, focusing on the effects and responses to Florida's Energy Bill and Florida's Building Code Standards.

Their research has involved such areas as Energy and Climate Policy, Transportation Issues and Energy Cost Reduction. In their studies, they pose questions such as "How do community economic and environmental conditions influence innovation?" and "How do neighboring government initiatives influence innovation?" In the long term, they hope to expand this research into a national project.

The University of Florida serves as the lead institution for the Florida Energy Systems Consortium, a partnership between various Florida institutions for research on energy technologies in an effort to address Florida's energy needs in a sustainable manner. The consortium is headquartered here at the University of Florida with leadership team that consists of both UF alumni and faculty, as well as having an advisory board and representatives from the various institutions involved. FESC aims to become a leader in energy research, education, technology, and energy systems analysis.

More information can be found at FESC's website.

Green Team Captains Leadership Training

In conjunction with UF’s Human Resource Services, the Office of Sustainability hosted a leadership training on October 6 at Emerson Alumni Hall. More than 30 Green Team captains attended the training session to discuss and share ideas for sustainability and team building at UF.

Tanya Fitzgerald and Ronda Mitchell from Human Resource Services provided fun and interactive activities for attendees to strategically structure each department’s goals and to identify challenges and obstacles. Each captain was able to identify his or her target audience, appropriate messages, implementation plans and evaluative techniques for follow-up.

It was exciting to watch team captains plan new sustainability initiatives and enhance existing programs through this leadership retreat. Those attending were inspired, and said this event helped build bridges between captains and departments as common areas of concern were identified. Also, many exciting new ideas were brainstormed.

Does your department have a Green Team Captain? Interested staff and faculty please contact Jessica Song for more information.

Monday, October 19, 2009

YES Summit Held Around Legislative Efforts

University of Florida students are hard at work pursuing more renewable energy sources for our campus power needs, as are many students around the nation. On September 25 and 26, Gators for a Sustainable Campus and the Southern Energy Network, a grassroots group of students advocating for sustainable energy, hosted the Youth Energy Sustainability ("YES") Summit in Pugh Hall. The event consisted of informational workshops, breakout sessions and a variety of other activities, all centered around training and preparation for an effort by students to support comprehensive renewable energy legislation.

"I really enjoyed networking with students from different universities and hearing about what they are working on," said Jamie Schindewolf, a second year UF student who participated in the summit.

One aspect of the summit that stood out was the Renewable Energy Fee breakout session. The Renewable Energy Fee is a student-led initiative that has been in the works for several years, as student leaders attempt to ensure its success in the state legislature. The fee would be included in State University System (SUS) student fees and would go towards renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts at institutions across the state. "We are doing our best to get it passed by the legislature in the upcoming year!" said Schindewolf.

The Summit also served as preparation for Florida Power Shift, an event being held in Orlando on October 24 and 25, where students will demonstrate in favor of sustainable energy legislation. For more information about this event, visit Florida Power Shift's website.

Campus Waste Audit Completed

One of the ambitious goals set for UF is to be Zero Waste by 2015. Toward this goal, the Office is developing a Zero Waste Plan with key stakeholders from across campus to reduce our municipal solid waste (MSW).

As a first step, The Office of Sustainability commissioned an audit of the solid waste management practices and generation campus-wide. This waste audit was conducted by students in UF’s Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences (EES) under guidance of EES faculty. The audit objectives were to summarize current solid waste characteristics and management practices on campus, to benchmark current recycling and waste reduction efforts, and to identify potential steps to further decrease the amount of UF waste destined for disposal.

In addition to compiling existing information, the audit team performed several studies to collect new data helpful for estimating the current composition of solid waste on campus. UF presently produces approximately 18,000 tons of waste annually. Approximately 11,000 tons are landfilled, while about 6,600 tons are recycled. The average recycling rate from 2001 through 2008 for UF solid waste of 36.50% is similar to (though at the higher end of the range) typical recycling rates achieved by municipalities in Florida and the US. Landfill-disposed MSW contributes almost half of the waste on campus.

The audit team conducted several waste composition studies to better assess the primary components of the MSW currently being disposed. While not an exhaustive composition study, data were collected that provide a good first look at MSW composition. The largest MSW contributors are organics at 15.28%, paper at 14.26%, non-recyclable materials 9.39%. Paper is the second largest contributor to the UF waste stream at 24.83%, with 10.5% recycled through campus recovery efforts and 14.33% lost as MSW. The report provides more details about the UF's waste stream by weight, volume, and source.

To amplify current recovery efforts and secure a more sustainable future for campus, UF needs to develop and/or improve communication and cooperation between academic departments, units, administrative bodies and levels of authority in regards to waste management, recovery efforts, and sustainable initiatives. Both structural and behavior change campaigns will be developed and outlined in UF's Zero Waste Plan.

Each individual has role to play and can reduce UF's impact by following the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. More tips for personal waste reduction are available online.

Monday, October 5, 2009

UF Community Campaign 2009

The Gator Nation has a long history of caring and compassion. Giving back to our community is as much a UF tradition as graduating future leaders and winning national championships. “This year more than any other, our community needs the Gator Nation’s help,” reported University of Florida Levin College of Law Dean Robert Jerry, UFCC General Campaign Chairman.

THE 2009 GOAL: $1,111,111.11 – because every dollar and every penny count!

WHEN: Online pledging starts August 31

WHERE: – Please pledge now. The online campaign ends October 23.

QUESTIONS: UF Office of Community Relations at 352-392-4567

Faculty and staff contributed more than $1 million in the 2008 University of Florida Community Campaign. Those dollars and those dollars raised this year will heal illnesses, assist families in financial crisis, feed the homeless, give our babies a healthy start, save lives, and more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Solutions For Florida's Energy Needs

Several projects underway

Florida's universities are working together to create solutions to Florida's energy needs. The Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) is comprised of leaders in energy research and development from a variety of learning institutions who meet to exchange ideas and information as well as work towards solving the issues facing Floridians and America as whole today and in the future.

The FESC is pursuing several projects currently, such as solar thermal testing, design and construction, biomass energy production and wave power generation. The consortium works to raise awareness and educate the general public, sharing its resources for educational and research purposes. For more information about the project, visit

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gator Volleyball Hosts A Green Night

Opportunities to participate in eco-friendly activities

As part of the University Athletic Association’s efforts to go green, the UF Volleyball Team is hosting Green Game festivities for the UF vs. Kentucky match on Friday, October 2 at 7 PM at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Come out to the match and check out all the eco-friendly initiatives being provided by the University of Florida’s Office of Sustainability and Neutral Gator.

Neutral Gator will participate in the UAA's Green Game festivities at the UF vs. Kentucky Volleyball match. Fans can visit their table at Gate One to participate in activities geared toward developing a greater understanding of a carbon footprint and what each person can do to reduce it. They will have shirts, stickers, buttons, and wrist bands for fans who want to take a pledge to reduce their footprint.

The Office of Sustainability will have on site the Sustainability Hut, which has interactive games and opportunities to learn about how you can apply sustainability in your own life. Fans are also encouraged to take alternative transportation to the match, such as riding a bike, taking the bus, or car pooling. The first 100 fans that have chosen to ride their bike to the match will receive Gator Reusable shopping bags (bike racks will be provided outside and between Gates 1 and 4).

In addition to these activities, the UAA and the Alachua County Library District have teamed up to raise books for the United Way of North Central Florida Success by 6 Book Drive. Bring two like-new children’s books on October 2nd and receive free admission to the volleyball game.

Books collected before the game will go to benefit the Success by 6 local literacy programs. Books collected through this effort will be used to create home libraries, and will also be distributed to selected child care centers in the Gainesville area.

For more information on the Gator Volleyball match, visit's Volleyball page.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UF's Carbon Action Plan

Announcing new initiative

UF President Machen was the first to sign the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2006. The Presidents Climate Commitment provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to go climate neutral.

The Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that institutions of higher education have as role models for their communities and in training the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming. Signatories pledge to eliminate their campuses’ greenhouse gas emissions over time- UF has a 2025 carbon neutrality goal.

As part of the commitment, UF completed an emissions inventory, initiated several short term actions laid out in the ACUPCC, and set a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral. We are proud to announce the completion of UF’s Carbon Action Plan (CAP), setting GHG emission reduction targets in line with the federal American Clean Energy and Security Act.

The plan outlines the University of Florida’s intent to: foster organizational leadership and create institutional culture change; initiate, implement, and monitor energy efficiency strategies; continue and expand GHGE reduction campaigns; and install a minimum of 100 kW of on-site renewable energy. Implementation of the plan will be a collaborative effort. The UF CAP will be reviewed for progress annually and revised/updated every three years based on experiences and lessons learned throughout implementation of each progressive phase.

You can access the highlights of the plan at ACUPCC's website. The complete plan is also available.

Gators Going Green

New Student Government agency on campus

UF Student Government has taken recent strides toward pursuing a more sustainable campus with the creation of the Gators Going Green Agency.

"The agency will act as the sustainability conscious for Student Government," said Bailey Kilbourne, the agency's newly appointed student director. "Gators Going Green will execute projects that will continue to lead students and our campus towards our goals of Carbon Neutrality and Zero Waste, as well as educate students throughout the entire campus on sustainability topics and issues."

Kilbourne brings not only her own valuable knowledge as an Environmental Science Major and Sustainability Studies Minor, but experience as an intern right here at the UF Office of Sustainability, where she helped spearhead the Sustainability Hut project as well as a variety of other successful campaigns.

The agency will oversee a host of upcoming projects, such as a campus wide lecture hall recycling pilot, green graduation pledge and green alumni network, as well as serving as a general resource for many student organizations across campus in the area of sustainability. The office is looking forward to seeing the agency effect positive change across student government and assist in the implementation of the university's sustainability-oriented goals.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Staff Join the UF Sustainability Team

Office of Sustainability team

It is with great pleasure that I introduce the two newest members of the Office of Sustainability - Stephanie Sims and Jessica Song (pictured at left).

Stephanie Sims is taking on a new position as Implementation Coordinator. She will work with stakeholders across campus to support the Vision for a Sustainable UF Implementation Plans. Stephanie has a B.S. in Biological Engineering and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Stephanie has worked with the Office of Sustainability on a number of previous projects, including the Inaugural Florida Campus and Community Sustainability Conference, the pilot phase AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) reporting, and various campus outreach events.

Jessica Jinah Song is the new Program Coordinator, and will take on outreach, education, and programming for the office, including coordinating the Green Teams. She recently obtained her Master of Arts in Public Relations from the University of Florida. She also holds a Bachelor's in Public Relations with a Minor in Business Administration.

Jessica has brought leadership to a number of student organizations including the Asian American Student Union, Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc., and Student Government’s Multicultural Cabinet. Her master's thesis focused on Corporate Social Responsibility.

We are all excited to continue supporting the great work people are doing for sustainability throughout UF, and are looking forward to growing and expanding the efforts of the office to keep UF at the forefront of the sustainability movement.

Thanks for joining me in welcoming Stephanie and Jessica to the team,

Anna Prizzia, Director

Monday, August 31, 2009

Alternative Transportation Fair

Don't miss this exciting event

Gators looking for an easier way to get around that's better for the planet are in luck. UF is hosting an Alternative Transportation Fair on Tuesday, September 1st at the Reitz Student Union North Lawn.

The fair will run from 9 AM through 2 PM and will feature many local organizations and campus clubs. Organizations will provide information, services, and demonstrations. Students can learn more about cycling on campus, bus transportation opportunities, and can enroll on site for this year's One Less Car Challenge.

A ZipCar will also be on display so visitors can learn about on campus ride-sharing opportunities. Students are encouraged to stop by the North Lawn between classes and learn how to take advantage of all the alternative transportation options Gainesville has to offer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One Less Car Challenge

Take the pledge

Join your fellow Gators and pledge to take alternative transportation on Friday, October 23, One Less Car Day, and throughout the fall semester. Last year, nearly 1800 people participated- avoiding over 48,000 trips and keeping 245 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere!

The campaign kicks off Tuesday, September 1 with an Alternative Transportation Fair on the Reitz Union North Lawn, 9 AM - 2 PM. Alternatives to single occupancy travel include walking, biking, taking the bus, and sharing the ride in a carpool. All participants will receive a button indicating the mode of transportation they have pledged to take, which can be worn throughout the year.

Individuals and teams can track their collective commitment online with our new, easy to use software. This year, the challenge includes points for recruiting new participants, encouraging everyone to invite a friend or coworker to participate. Prizes will be awarded for the most active individuals and teams.

Members of the UF community can get more information, sign-up for the challenge, and join a UF department or organization’s team online.

Neutral Gators Weather(ize) In Gainesville

Volunteer today to help in local homes

Neutral Gator is at it again—this year’s goal—to offset the carbon footprint of the entire Gator 2009-10 athletic program.

Toward this effort Neutral Gator will take on its first-ever weatherization project. Volunteers will perform a variety of activities on Village Green apartments, such as installing low-flow showerheads and compact-fluorescent light bulbs, checking for leaks, and insulating water heater pipes.

The project will take place Saturday, August 29 from 10 AM to 6 PM and again on Wednesday, September 9 from 9:30 AM to 4 PM.

The residents of Village and Forest Green in east Gainesville will soon be reducing their environmental footprint and cutting back on their monthly utility expenses thanks to this joint project between Neutral Gator and the Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC).

No weatherization experience is necessary to volunteer, just contact Angelica Ramdhari. In addition to the direct energy savings, Neutral Gator and the CWC will use this project as an opportunity to educate both volunteers and residents about lowering their environmental impact. The end result will be a smaller ecological footprint and lower monthly utility bills for this low-income community.

The carbon offsets created from this project, and others in our local community, will go toward Neutral Gator’s goal of creating the first-ever UAA carbon neutral athletics season. Last year, Neutral Gator was successful in offsetting the carbon emissions for the entire football season.

“I think it’s great that we can provide energy-reducing retrofits to low-income families all in the name of Gator athletics,” said Jacob Cravey, co-founder of Earth Givers, Inc. and Director of the Neutral Gator Initiative.

- Article courtesy of Aubrey Siegel

Small Farms Conference

First statewide conference a success

The vast majority of Florida’s 47,000 farms are classified as small by U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, but there’s been little opportunity for all the people behind those farms to get together and work toward common goals.

That changed on August 1 and 2 with the first Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference, a statewide event that was such a success, organizers plan to repeat it yearly, said Bob Hochmuth, a multicounty extension agent with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

More than 800 farmers and agriculture professionals attended the event, held at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee.

“It shows that even in today’s economy, there is great interest among the small farmers in Florida to improving the things they’re doing on their farms,” said Hochmuth, who helped plan the conference.

The event was hosted by UF/IFAS and Florida A&M University’s College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture. It featured more than 100 speakers, 30 educational sessions, networking opportunities, more than 80 exhibitions of new products and technologies, and livestock displays.

Highlights included a welcome address from Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson; an impassioned keynote speech from nationally known small farms authority John Ikerd; and presentation of Florida Innovative Farmer Awards to three attendees for developing and sustaining their small farm enterprises.

Another detail that set this conference apart—much of the food served to attendees was prepared with items produced by Florida’s small farms. Food service was provided by the Osceola Heritage Park’s in-house caterers, who were not only cooperative but enthused about the project, Hochmuth said.

“They were amazed by how much high-quality food was available from small producers in Florida,” he said. “They really got into it.”

The 2010 conference will probably take place in midsummer, again at Osceola Heritage Park, he said.

Photos, videos and other material from the 2009 conference will be posted at the small farms website maintained by UF and FAMU. The site will soon include information about the 2010 conference, and contains helpful material for anyone operating or launching a small farm in Florida.

For the latest demographic information on Florida’s small farms, see the recently published UF document, Characteristics of Small Farm Operators in Florida: Economics, Demographics and Preferred Information Channels and Sources.

- Article courtesy of UF IFAS, Tom Nordlie
- Photo courtesy of UF IFAS, Tyler Jones

Gainesville Farm Fresh

Momentum growing for new local resource

Since its debut on June 10, 2009, Gainesville Farm Fresh has earned a spot in our local food community efforts. In just 8 weeks there have been more than 6,600 visits to their website's articles and resources.

Listing growers, farmer's markets, food markets and restaurants that support local food and provides the Gainesville area community with articles, issues, positive legislation and resources, Gainesville Farm Fresh is an easily accessible online tool for those interested in learning about and supporting our local food system.

Setback Program

Buildings tuned to most efficient energy use

This summer, UF expanded its building setback program, turning down air handlers at unoccupied times to save energy and money. Physical Plant Division has had a program in place for several years to reduce energy consumption by setting back HVAC thermostat settings in select buildings when they are unoccupied. The most obvious benefit is monetary, with the savings calculated to be $10,000 per day.

This program also helps UF reduce our carbon footprint, more than 70% of which is directly related to electricity for buildings. Thus, building setback programs are an important part of the campus plan to be carbon neutral by 2025.

When a building setback takes place, air handling units are adjusted to unoccupied status. For the Thanksgiving and winter holidays this means setting thermostats at 68degrees. During the summer holiday months the thermostat is turned up to between 80 and 82.

We understand that many buildings have essential personnel who work on campus even when the students are gone; file servers require fixed temperatures, and some laboratory and research areas cannot tolerate temperature fluctuations. Before implementing a setback program, buildings are closely studied to determine special circumstances and zoned accordingly.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping Campus Waters Clean

Getting to know UF’s Clean Water Campaign

In 2003, a collection of faculty, students, and staff started the UF Clean Water Campaign to educate the campus community and raise awareness about stormwater and water quality issues at UF.

Since that time, the campaign has monitored 20 sites across campus for 12 key physical and chemical water quality parameters. Data from the monitoring program indicates that Lake Alice has higher nitrogen and phosphorus levels than comparable local water bodies such as Bivens Arm.

In addition, two creeks on campus have nitrate concentrations that are potentially toxic to some freshwater fish and invertebrates and may contribute to algal blooms in Lake Alice. Efforts are now underway to more clearly identify the source(s) of elevated nutrients and implement actions to reduce inputs.

The UF Clean Water Campaign has sponsored education and outreach events such as labeling of storm drains with markers reading, “Keep it Clean – Drains to Lake Alice”, and hosting campus creek clean-ups.

Clean-ups, monitoring, and other activities are slated for Fall ’09. If you would like to volunteer to help with the UF Clean Water Campaign, please contact John Linhoss or visit the campus water quality website.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Personal Appliances Circumvent Energy Efficiency

Help colleagues pitch in today

While Physical Plant Division and Facilities Planning and Construction have gone to great lengths to minimize energy consumption in primary facility systems (HVAC, lighting, kitchen appliances, and so on), personal appliances brought into buildings by employees can lessen these efficiency efforts.

How much does it cost to operate personal appliances per year? Let's use a mini-fridge as an example.

Assuming an electricity rate of $0.10/kWh and a total annual energy consumption of 1,360 kWh, it would cost $136 per room or cubicle. If every staff member at UF chose to have their own fridge it would cost UF $1,669,672 each year!

* Article adapted for Office of Sustainability. Permission to use this article has been granted by Tech Resources, Inc. and Progress Energy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Local Foods Cookoff

Iron Chef celebration on Earth Day

The last day of spring classes in April was marked by competition as Fresh Food Company's chefs battled Iron Chef-style using local, sustainable ingredients. Almost all proteins and produce were sourced from Florida and nearby in Georgia. Broward Dining's customers tasted, tested, then chose the selections of the winning chef!

A number of campus and community groups tabled with activities and information on their sustainability efforts, including Sweetwater Organic Coffee, Artie's Tempeh, Greeks Going Green, Indigo Green Store and Produce Distribution Center. Prizes and giveaways included providing the customer with the highest participation rate in Gator Dining's Reusable To-Go Program a free bicycle and gifting the winner of April's Sustainability Scavenger Hunt a free 50-Block Commuter Dining Plan for Fall 2010, worth $661.00.

The past few years' competitions have been exciting. Interested in videos from past events? View the videos section at Gator Dining Services' Gator Dining Sustainability Site.

Monday, July 6, 2009

NWEI Reading Group

Explore the issues further

This summer, some UF Green Team members are participating in a reading group based around Northwest Earth Institute's Choices for Sustainable Living. From early June through mid-July, participants are gathering weekly over lunch to discuss a wide diversity of readings that challenge them to explore what sustainability means and how their personal choices impact the planet. As the opening quote of the book states, "The character of a society is the cumulative result of the countless small actions, day in and day out, of millions of people."

Thus far, readings and discussion have varied widely-from the onset of cannibalism in the Easter Islands resulting from ecological and social deterioration-to campus anti-smoking policy, the society-wide implications of peak oil production, and our personal sense of optimism that our culture will make a successful transition to a sustainable one.

Group participants also bring diverse life experience to the table, from a 20-something Sustainability Coordinator from Gator Dining Services to a grandmotherly House Director from Kappa Delta Sorority, a Reitz Union shift director, campus faculty and more. Yet all share enthusiasm for learning and for our planet. Our shared reading and discussions will surely impact all of us.

Interested in participating in a future sustainability reading group? Would you like help starting a group in your own department or club? Please contact the Office of Sustainability’s Green Team Coordinator, Jason Fults.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Prizzia Named Director

Brings experience, passion to Office of Sustainability

Anna is the Director of the University of Florida’s Office of Sustainability. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Master’s of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a Certificate in Tropical Conservation and Development from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She has experience in natural resources management, habitat assessment, volunteer coordination, facilitation in the areas of education and the environment, and program development in education and marketing.

Prizzia worked as UF's Sustainability Outreach Coordinator from March 2007 through May 2009, and before that she was Watershed Action Volunteer Coordinator for Alachua County, Florida, implementing community water education programs. Previously, she worked with the St. John's River Water Management District and the City of Gainesville to craft water education campaigns. She has also worked in private environmental consulting and was a Peace Corps volunteer who worked in the Melanesian Republic of Vanuatu on community based natural resource management and small business skills.

Prizzia serves on the boards of Sustainable Alachua County, Sustainable Florida and Slow Food Gainesville. She has also worked on a number of field biology projects throughout Florida, and was involved with developing the Community Education Program for the University of Florida.

UF Swap Meet

Post and find needed items

Asset Management has worked with Facilities, Planning & Construction and Office of Sustainability to create an online swap meet, a place for UF staff and faculty to repurpose unneeded or unwanted office supplies.

Looking for extra reams of paper, print toner or a keyboard and monitor? Most anything you can think of may be posted to the site or found there for your use!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Blooming Garden

Student leaders wanted

The UF Ethnoecology Society, which began in the 1980's following a visit by the eminent ethnobotanist Richard Schultes, is seeking expanded student involvement. During the last several years, the Society has been active in bringing speakers to campus, organizing journal discussions and field trips, and, most especially, planting and caring for the educational/experimental ethnoecology garden on the UF campus, located near the bat house.

The garden has blossomed in the last two years, and at last count was home to 100-plus unique species. The Society maintains extensive trellis systems, a vermiculture box, a small nursery, and an active compost program using coffee grounds from Starbucks in Library West. The garden also is the venue for weekly gatherings for work, socializing, and eating.

The Society and the garden are ripe for more student involvement. Leadership is needed to ensure the continuation of the group's mission and gardens. If you are interested in Ethnobotany, Ethnoecology, Economic Botany, Agroforestry, Permaculture, etc., please consider becoming involved.

Visitors are welcomed to the garden Fridays from 5 PM to sunset. E-mail to join the Society’s e-mail list or inquire about future activities.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Heavener Complex Receives Highest LEED Certification

Several firsts mark this green building effort

The recent addition to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has just been ranked as one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the U.S.

The Heavener Football Complex has received platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, the highest ranking available. It is the first building in Florida and the first athletic facility in the nation to achieve platinum status. There are only 130 platinum buildings in the US and 141 worldwide.

LEED certification is based on site/location planning, energy use, water management, materials used, indoor environmental quality and innovation in the design process. The Heavener Complex earned the required 52 out of 69 possible points to receive a platinum rating.

The $28 million complex includes offices, conference rooms, an atrium with trophies from the team’s national championships, and weight-training facilities. The facility’s energy-saving features exceed state and national standards requirements by 35 percent and include low-e glazing on glass, insulation and reflective materials, which make the heating and air conditioning systems more efficient. It also contains energy-efficient lighting and light sensors that allow individual lighting preferences and turn off automatically when the room is empty. The facility also has a system for analyzing future energy use. Light-colored roofing and concrete pavement on the plaza keep temperatures lower in and around the building.

The building reduced 40 percent of indoor water use with its low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets and water-saving shower heads. One hundred percent of its irrigation is reclaimed water, and native plants combined with nonevaporating sprinklers allow the landscaping to use 50 percent less water. The green roof of the weight room near Gate 18 conserves energy and insulates as well by containing storm water for its plant life, rather than directing it to the sewer system.

Read the rest of the story at University of Florida News.

Watch WCJB TV/20's related story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Students Welcomed To Committee Participation

Serve with a committee

The UF Provost's Office is accepting student applications for university committee membership through Friday, June 12, 2009 for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The list of committees, committee descriptions, and applications are online at University of Florida - Academic Affairs. These committees generally meet monthly. Among the committees of particular interest to students regarding sustainability issues:

Lakes, Vegetation and Landscaping Committee for students interested in landscape plant selection, irrigation practices, tree removals and mitigations, stormwater/drainage systems, water bodies and natural area management.

Land Use and Facilities Planning Committee for students interested in campus master planning and building design.

Parking and Transportation Committee for students interested in parking facilities, parking management (including carpool program), scooters/motorcycles, transit, biking, and walking.

Preservation of Historic Buildings and Sites Committee for students interested in preserving cultural, architectural, and archaeological resources on campus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Green Gators Take the Pledge

An important commitment

The Green Graduation Pledge reads: “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and ecological consequences of my decisions. Furthermore, I pledge to use the knowledge I gain at UF to improve the sustainability of the communities in which I live, learn, and work."

Sign on for this important commitment Tuesday through Friday, April 29 through May 1, 10 AM to 2 PM, at the University Bookstore (next to cap and gown pick-up). You may also pledge online at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inaugural Sustainable Solutions Awards Announced

The UF Office of Sustainability is proud to announce the Sustainable Solutions Awards. These awards, announced April 22, 2009 at our Earth Day Celebration, recognized those individuals, departments and organizations that have made significant contributions toward advancing sustainability at UF.

Students, staff, and departments received awards in the following areas (links reveal winner details):

Water Conservation

Waste Reduction

Waste Reduction, Student Award

Energy Conservation

Energy Conservation, Student Award

The "Bright Idea" Award (Given for the best new idea advancing sustainability on

The "Bright Idea" Student Award

Most Active Green Team

Most Active Student Group

Sincere thanks go to the award recipients, nominees and honorable mentions in each category, and to the nominators who sent in notice recognizing acheivements for sustainability on campus.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Disposables Displaced

UF Foundation recently enhanced their sustainability efforts by making a good thing even better.

For several years, the Foundation supplied disposable coffee cups at each of their eight coffee stations (located in five campus buildings). They have eliminated using disposable cups and plastic coffee stirrers. The initial idea was to move from low-cost polypropylene (Styrofoam) cups to a more biodegradable cup, since Styrofoam never degrades in landfills.

After reviewing costs, however, staff decided to rid disposable cups altogether. For staff and faculty who work in the same location daily there was little justification for disposables. They informed everyone that disposable cups would not be replaced once current inventory was depleted and invited coffee and tea drinkers to bring mugs for their personal use.

There was some opposition to the change but after initial grumbling, momentum shifted and the Foundation has been disposable cup free for over six months! What about visiting guests? For guest use, smaller quantities of biodegradable cups are supplied to administrative assistants within each department.

Small plastic coffee stirrers were also switched for wooden stirrers. Cost difference is small as wood is biodegradable and also doesn’t stick in sink drains like small plastic stirrers, a change that has pleased PPD also. This effort is a good example of one department taking initiative and saving another time and money.

The simple act of shifting a habit removed waste and added sustainability awareness for every beverage drinker at the Foundation. Consider making the same changes in your department today.

Friday, April 3, 2009

UF Green Build Team Wins Sustainability Competition

Six students on the Green Build Team joined their faculty advisor, Dr. James Sullivan of the Rinker School of Building Construction, in Reno, NV last month and their Building Information Modeling team won second place recognition in their division and a special award for Best Presentation at the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) LEED Competition.

The competition, held February 12 and 13, challenged teams to provide solutions for a problem statement from a hypothetical retail construction in California. Six rounds of questions highlighted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and rating systems.

The student team was challenged to explore sustainable options for the proposed construction including a new form of structure temperature flow known as “Night Sky Cooling,” which allows for downsizing conventional air cooling units by cooling water through radiative and evaporative means.

The students were given building plans and had just 14 hours to research and propose a 20-page response. The following day, the report was submitted as a 25-minute presentation including an expert panel testing the students in a question-and-answer symposium.

The UF team labored diligently in their efforts and showed great teamwork in their proposal. Their efforts paid off with recognition for Best Presentation. UF’s Green Build Team was one of 17 schools participating, and one of only two schools competing from east of the Mississippi.

One of the winning students, Kristin Gray, said, “We had been quite busy as students leading up to the competition and then had lots of make-up work to complete upon our return, but we feel great about our contributions to the competition.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

myUF Market Saves Paper, Time, Money

Online Purchasing Portal Opens In April

UF is launching an innovative purchasing process to save money while benefiting the environment. UF’s myUF Market is a tool that will allow staff to streamline the purchase of products through an online marketplace similar to others simple-to-use buying interfaces, like
myUFMarket features include price comparisons between vendors, search boxes, and the ability in many cases to speed vendor orders and create purchase orders on the fly, making shopping a simple, enjoyable experience.

The finished version will be rolled out to departments in April, in conjunction with training sessions for a pilot group covering myUFMarket basics. In the meantime, a new website highlights the system and provides more information.

As a supplement, the Purchasing Department has created a Core Items List of office-related products that are also “best values,” many of which are marked as “green” for demonstrating sustainability in their design and/or composition.

The Core Items List and the new myUF Market illustrate our university’s commitment to both convenience and sustainability.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Calorie Power

2007 Gator alumnus, Hudson Harr, saw cardio equipment as more than calorie burners, he saw energy. And thanks to Harr’s insight and technical expertise, a work-out at UF’s Southwest Rec Center now benefits the grid as well as bodies.

Six elliptical machines at the gym have been retrofitted with Harr’s ReCardio devices. The equipment captures energy produced during a workout and uses an inverter to convert the AC power to DC, making it available to the building’s electrical grid.

Currently the inverter, about the size of a brief case, is mounted on the wall at the front of the gym. It’s subtle, too subtle for David Bowles, Director of Recreational Sports. Bowles explained that many students don’t understand the broad benefits of an intense work-out, often opting for more moderate exercise. That’s why posters are planned to go up informing students that ramped up work-outs get better results and create sustainable energy.

“We want students to know that when they increase the intensity of their workouts, they get better results physically, and they produce more energy,” explains Bowles. “It’s better use of their exercise time."

UF was the first university to use ReCardio equipment and there are plans to add more. An expansion of the Rec Center is underway and will incorporate Harr’s equipment during construction, avoiding the need to retrofit. When it opens in 2010, 36 more ellipticals, and possibly other cardio equipment, will be equipped with ReCardio devices, adding more calorie kilowatts to the Rec Center’s grid.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

3rd Annual Green Graduation Pledge

The Office of Sustainability and Student Government are offering graduating students the opportunity to pledge their commitment to sustainability. The goal of the pledge is to encourage students to carry the knowledge of sustainability—that they gathered here at UF—out into the world.

The Green Graduation pledge reads:

"I pledge to explore and take into account the social and ecological consequences of my decisions. Furthermore, I pledge to use the knowledge I gain at UF to improve the sustainability of the communities in which I live, learn, and work."

It is hoped that Gator graduates will leave campus not only with a diploma, but with a lifelong sense of responsibility regarding their role in sustainability.

The pledge is available for signing in the University Bookstore during cap and gown pick-up. When signing the pledge, students will receive a Gator pin to wear on their regalia during graduation and a pocket-sized pledge card. Those signing the pledge will be included in UF’s sustainable alumni network.

2009 marks the third year the pledge has been available to graduates. In 2008, over 400 seniors signed on. The future looks green, as Gators grads move their tassels from right to left and bring sustainability from the UF campus into their careers and communities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Upcoming Earth Month Events

April 22nd is officially Earth Day, but events here on campus will start early in the month.

On April 9th, Dr. Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography (UCLA) and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will present a lecture on his latest book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Diamond will discuss the signs of collapse and how, if identified in time, it might be prevented. The lecture will take place at 8:00PM at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It is free and open to the public. Tickets will be available the day of the event at the venue box office.

Supplementing Dr. Diamond’s lecture, UF faculty will present a panel on April 16th titled “Is Collapse Imminent?” highlighting UF research on climate, environment, and society. On April 14th, a “Sustainability Mythbusters” panel will address common sustainability conundrums and offer tools for answering difficult questions. Both panels will take place at 6:30PM in Weil 270.

The 4th annual UF Sustainable Products Trade show will take place on April 21st from 10:00AM – 2:00PM in The Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. Participating vendors, UF departments, and student organizations will display sustainable products purchased by UF and options for green personal-use products.

The campus Earth Day celebration will take place on the Plaza of the Americas on April 22nd. President Machen will present the annual report on the State of Sustainability at UF at 10:30AM. Campus sustainability recognition awards, a student organization fair, and other Earth Day activities will follow.

For more information on these and other community events visit UF’s Office of Sustainability online calendar.

Friday, March 6, 2009

UF’s Colleges with a Conscience website launches

Borrowing the theme “Colleges with a Conscience” from Princeton Review’s tally of schools with outstanding community involvement, the University of Florida has a new resource for its external and internal communities.

The University of Florida Colleges with a Conscience website serves as a one-stop location for anyone who wants to learn more about the various, diverse and long-time community service initiatives sponsored by the faculty, students and staff in every college.

“This website is the first of its kind at UF culling together—in one location—the amazing community outreach efforts being performed by each of the 16 colleges, and the auxiliaries of the University of Florida,” said Florida Bridgewater-Alford, director of community relations and manager of the project.

Due to the size of UF, it’s vital that faculty and staff members in all the colleges are aware of their colleagues’ outreach activities. The website has already served to educate college faculty, students and staff on the outreach efforts campus-wide.

Reaching out to the community is a tradition at the University of Florida, which is a land-grant institution. Serving its neighbors is central to its goal of being an excellent university. UF's outreach actively addresses needs, issues and concerns. These efforts ultimately sustain a better quality of life for our communities.

The online resource can be found on the College with a Conscience website.

The remaining seven colleges are working on their individual sites to be included. If your college’s web designer or information technology coordinator has questions, please contact Florida Bridgewater-Alford at 392-4567 or

Thursday, February 19, 2009

EE Pilot Program Underway

In February, the Office of Sustainability, along with Green Team captains in Tigert Hall, launched the energy efficiency (EE) pilot program. The campaign aims to reduce unnecessary electricity consumption through simple behavioral changes—without sacrificing productivity.

This effort is important for several reasons: cost, carbon neutrality, and leadership. In 2008, UF spent $40 million on electricity. Increased electrical costs of approximately 28.3 percent in January 2009 further emphasize the need to reduce demand. Reducing electrical consumption is also a critical component in UF’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. Finally, Tigert Hall is the symbolic home of UF’s leadership. Energy efficiency is a top priority for UF, so it stands to reason that behavior change should start there.

Approximately 40% of the electrical demand in Tigert is for personal office use. As a result, IT staff have switched computers to energy-saving settings and participants are being asked to disable their screen-savers. Participants are also encouraged to use power strips that blocks power to peripheral devices (e.g., printers and chargers) when not in use. Finally, a “Last to Leave” policy is being implemented so that common office equipment and lighting will be turned off at the end of every work day.

An “electricity dashboard” allows participants to monitor their progress and includes the current cost of electricity and the carbon generated per hour. The dashboard is mounted in the hallway outside of Room 202 in Tigert Hall and can be viewed online here. Educational materials for the campaign are available on the Green Team Google Group website.

The pilot will run through early April. If it’s successful, the campaign will be rolled out to other buildings and Green Teams across campus.

Turning Bedding into Biomass

Through the efforts of Robert Hockman, the now-retired assistant director of medical/health administration at the College of Veterinary Medicine, a win-win solution was found for disposing of a portion of the bedding from stables.

Disposal of used stable bedding was a problem for the Large Animal Hospital of the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC). The bedding is a mixture of large quantities of wood shavings, horse manure, urine, and in some cases pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella. And with the stalls requiring 150 to 200 cubic yards of bedding each month, it builds up quickly.

Initially, options for disposal included sending the used bedding to a landfill or incinerator; both are costly and have environmental implications. On-site storage of the material was eliminated, due to space requirements and the potential to cause contaminated run-off. Without a solution for handling the used bedding, operation of the Large Animal Hospital was imperiled.

Then Hockman considered the benefits of the bedding; it’s organic and has a high nitrogen content. He developed a program that included treating the bedding and sourcing it out.

Special dumpsters, designed by the university and built by Roger’s Welding, are equipped with copper tubes in the bottom that inject steam into the bedding. The bedding temperature is raised to 210o and maintained for one hour, killing the pathogenic bacteria but leaving the valuable components intact.

After it’s cooled, the bedding is transported to the Florida State Division of Forestry where it is used as compostable biomass, used for growing pine seedlings.

- by Patrick T. Colahan, DVM, DACVS

A Big Thank You

The Office of Sustainability would like to thank all who made Gator game day recycling a success. With in-kind and financial help from Sam’s Club and Pepsi, as well as hours of hard work from UF volunteers and staff, over 25,700 pounds of cans and bottles were collected.

Game day recycling efforts are headed up by the TailGator Green Team, a group of student volunteers. Every game day, here at the swamp, the TailGator Green Team sets up their tent where volunteers sign-in, pick up their recycling tools, namely rubber gloves and bags, and get their tailgating zone assignment.

The volunteers visit tailgating parties across campus, dropping off bags, so football fans can collect their recyclables, and educating fans on the benefits of recycling. Just before kick-off, the volunteers visit the tailgators again, check the bags, and remove any non-recyclables.

Claire Long coordinates the recycling efforts and is quick to point out that game day recycling wouldn’t be possible without support from staff from the physical plant and the University Alumni Association (UAA). Roving the campus, physical plant employees collect the tied-off bags from all of the tailgating spots and consolidate the recyclables for pick-up. The UAA also contracts to have the recyclables separated out from the trash during the post-game stadium cleanup.

Besides diverting waste from the landfill, the team has racked up almost 900 volunteer hours in over 500 shifts. Each shift lasts from two to four hours and when the bags are tied-off, volunteers are treated with praise and refreshments. If you’re interested in volunteering with the TailGator Green Team visit the Gator Green Team Facebook page on the UF network.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UF Recognized for Sustainable Strategy

The University of Florida was recognized by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, for our comprehensive sustainability strategy. In the organization’s Fall 2008 e-publication “Notes from the Field” fund managers praised UF for operating with sustainability as a core value describing a variety of UF’s accomplishments.

Actions, such as President Machen’s signing the American College and University President’s Climate Change Commitment in 2006 and environmental efforts lead by grass-root student organizations, were given high marks. Accolades were also given to Gator Dining Services, for both their drive to buy regionally-sourced products and the training they provide to all food service employees on sustainable concepts and practices.

Efforts by Facilities, Planning and Construction to achieve LEED certification for campus construction and renovations were acknowledged as was the Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy Technology Incubator, a facility that helps bridge the gap between academic research in energy and commercial application.

Hands-on work in the Natural Area Teaching Lab was applauded for giving students the opportunity to learn about the importance of ecology and biotic diversity, along with understanding the potential impacts of storm water runoff in losing natural habitats.

These are just a few of UF’s actions noted in the article. To read the article in its entirety, please visit the Jessie Ball duPont Fund website.