Sign up for the newsletter
Sign up for our listserv

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.