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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.