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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