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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.