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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Energy Savings: Winter Set-Back Program

Friday, December 24, 2010 through Sunday, January 2, 2011, UF will once again be implementing our annual Winter Set-back Program. Physical Plant will be turning down air handlers at unoccupied times to save energy and money. This program allows the temperatures in most of the office and classroom environments to fall to 64 degrees or rise to 82 degrees before the ventilation system will be activated.

The most obvious benefit of setbacks 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 our carbon emissions are directly related to our buildings. Thus, building setback programs are an important part of the campus plan to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Hopefully you will help UF save even more money and energy by unplugging unneeded equipment and electronics, turning off what you can't unplug, and remembering to shut off lights in your office and in common areas, such as bathrooms and conference rooms.

University officials 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.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Less Car Challenge Wraps

Earlier this term, students, staff and faculty from all over campus participated in the third annual One Less Car challenge by using alternative modes of transportation and logging these trips via UF GreenRide, the university’s carpool matching service.

While this year’s challenge saw fewer participants than in previous ones, 482 total registrants comprised 82 teams, their dedication remained steadfast. Roughly 169,621 pounds of emissions were avoided throughout the challenge, the result of 20,840 fewer trips and 174.927 single occupancy vehicle miles saved.

“This year’s challenge incorporated some new elements, while maintaining many of the elements that have helped establish the program at UF,” said Anna Prizzia, director of the Office of Sustainability. “We made an effort to focus more on individual action than in previous years, and are pleased to see the frequency and consistency with which participants logged their commutes.”

GreenRide, a system that exists independently of the challenge and is a resource for the campus community to find ride matches also calculates this savings in terms of fuel and dollars saved from reduced incidental costs. For the period of the challenge, August 23 through November 19, participants saved a collective 7,508 gallons of fuel, and approximately $96, 385. The system uses a basic formula to calculate a per mile savings on maintenance and ownership (i.e., car payments, insurance) to further reflect the opportunities and benefits of utilizing alternative transportation modes more frequently.

When taken together, the impact helps UF inch closer to its goal of carbon neutrality, while continuing education on the importance of personal action. “Based on a 2005 greenhouse gas inventory of campus emissions, we’ve estimated that roughly 10% of our carbon footprint is attributable to commuting,” said Prizzia. “In order to get this percentage as close to zero as possible, we each have a responsibility to identify opportunities in our lives, as Gators and as individuals in the larger scale, to make changes toward sustainability.”

Faces of Sustainability

Martin “Marty” Werts
Physical Plant Division - Grounds Superintendent, Organic Citrus Vendor

Martin “Marty” Werts has been a dedicated employee to the University of Florida for the past 30 years, incorporating sustainability into his every day routine as naturally as waking up in the morning.

On campus, Werts supervises our Grounds Division, working hard to maintain the beauty and ecological integrity of campus. Marty oversees campus landscaping, ensuring that native and low-impact plants are used to reduce resource and chemical use - helping to curtail associated impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity on campus. Thanks to Marty campus-goers can now also see vegetation and foliage that attract butterflies, as well as edibles, scattered across the landscape.

Marty’s commitment doesn’t stop when the work week does. His dedication to protect our grounds and keep campus clean is evident even on home football Saturdays.

“Marty is a tremendous asset to the game day recycling program. He wholeheartedly supports it week after week, and actively seeks opportunities to best serve the initiative’s needs,” says Jordan Weinstein, intern program coordinator for the Office of Sustainability’s TailGator Game Day Recycling Program. “He is an essential component, and a fierce ally that we are lucky to have at our disposal.”

In addition to these efforts, Werts has also been an organic citrus farmer for the past 5 years. His oranges, grapefruits and other fruits can be found in campus dining halls, a part of the sustainability legacy taking shape here on campus that UF students, staff and faculty can experience.

Not only does he utilize more environmentally friendly methods to grow his products, but his Melrose-located farm means these fruits help reduce shipping related emissions (only a 22 mile footprint) and keep dollars within the local economy. His produce can also be found at Fresh Market in Gainesville.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Student Agricultural Gardens reopen at UF; plots now available

The Student Agricultural Gardens on Museum Road at the University of Florida are back in operation after nearby construction disrupted normal activities. After nearly a year of renovation efforts, a revitalized area is now open for a new generation of exploratory gardeners.

The UF Agronomy and Soils Club manages the gardens and provides information to new gardeners. Garden plots are available in two sizes on a yearly basis: 26 by 21 feet for $35; and 13 by 21 feet for $20.

For more than 30 years, the gardens have provided students, faculty and staff with space in which to pursue and experiment with food production, gardening and sustainability.

“Agriculture is yet another area where each of us can reconnect with something so essential, yet often underappreciated in our culture,” said Anna Prizzia, director of the Office of Sustainability. “With something as intimate as food, the gardens provide a hands-on opportunity for people to explore the origin of what they are eating and recognize the importance of self-sufficiency and being an informed consumer.”

The communal nature of the gardens also provides fulfillment to gardeners of all experience levels.

“There is nothing quite like hands-on experience, especially with something like agriculture,” said student intern Zach Tucker. “The gardens allow people to see a wide variety of crops and methods for growing those crops in a small area, and to connect with each on something so elemental.”

Plots are rented for a period of one year on a first-come first-served basis. It is garden policy that no synthetic pesticides or herbicides be used, and organic practices are preferred. Winter crops are getting under way, so sign up is recommended now.

For information on how to obtain a plot, contact Zach Tucker at tucker@ufl.edu.

Source: University of Florida News

Friday, October 22, 2010

Energy Summit Projects Show Strong Returns

Many people across campus often know little about the myriad ways sustainability is taking shape behind the scenes at the operational level, and they are sure are many. One area that has seen prolific consideration is energy. Over the last two years, UF has invested millions of dollars into a number of energy efficiency projects throughout campus. Energy Summits, convened by Vice President of Business Affairs, Ed Poppell, brought stakeholders from throughout UF together to identify projects that would save energy, improve operations & maintenance, and reduce UF’s carbon footprint. Representatives from Housing, University Athletic Association, IFAS, Physical Plant Division, Facilities, Planning & Construction, and the Health Science Center came together to identify and implement key projects to accomplish these goals. Since electricity for the university has a $43 million dollar price tag last year, and buildings account for over 70% of our carbon footprint, these projects help reduce costs as well as environmental impact.

As a result of the energy summit projects, most of UF’s buildings are now individually metered for electricity, allowing staff to monitor energy use more accurately and customize building systems to operate more efficiently. Major renovations and equipment replacements included chillers, boilers, and air handlers throughout campus. One project, replacing T-12 lighting fixtures with T-8’s had a return on investment of 61%, with $300,000 annual savings! Smaller projects, like installing occupancy sensors, upgrading filters, and replacing windows were also a part of the Energy Summit projects.

The upgrades and efforts conducted in response to the Energy Summit meetings reflect UF’s commitment to sustainability and carry the institution closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. However, based upon information gleaned from the 2005 Greenhouse Gas Inventory conducted, it was determined that around 30% of a building’s energy use is attributable to small equipment and behavioral conditions. This insight helped inform the design and implementation of the “Chomp Down on Energy” efficiency campaign to help educate and empower students, staff and faculty to consider the impact their individual actions have on the cumulative energy use (and footprint) of UF. All Gators can learn tips for energy conservation, and actively be a part of the sustainability story unfolding across campus.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Faces of Sustainability - Facilities, Planning and Construction

When it comes to the long-term vision for the physical space of the University of Florida, Linda Dixon, Assistant Director in Facilities, Planning and Construction, plays an enormous part in incorporating sustainability into each step of the planning process. The UF Campus Master Plan puts sustainable practices at the forefront of planning and managing the campus’ built and natural environments including buildings, transportation, utilities, and environmental protection. The current plan was adopted in 2005 following extensive input from faculty, staff, students and the community. An update for 2010 is underway, but most of the overhaul to incorporate sustainability was included in the 2005 plan according to Dixon. “The plan is based on a land use pattern that seeks to make it easy to walk, bicycle and use transit while protecting the significant habitats and open spaces that we have on campus.”

The plan’s transportation policies are very progressive, and Ms. Dixon works with many stakeholders including UF’s Transportation & Parking Services, Office of Sustainability, Physical Plant Division, and Gainesville Regional Transit System to make those policies a reality. She advocates for funding to construct new bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as the new bike paths through Bartram-Carr Woods and near the Cancer-Genetics building. She also serves on the Parking and Transportation Committee, and facilitates an ad-hoc Sustainable Transportation Work Group that meets regularly to improve conditions such as bicycle parking, carpooling, bicycle safety, and employee transportation options. She herself enjoys using the FPC department bike to get around campus.

On environmental issues, Ms. Dixon relies heavily on the Lakes, Vegetation and Landscaping Committee as well as Erik Lewis, Senior Planner in Facilities Planning and Construction. Mr. Lewis maintains Conservation Area Land Management (CALM) Plans that prescribe environmental protection measures to be taken in natural areas on campus. Many of these recommendations were recently implemented with student funding from the Capital Improvement Trust Fund and grants from the Department of Environmental Protection.

To round out sustainable measures, Ms. Dixon also devotes significant time to issues such as energy efficient lighting, green building, and historic preservation, but adds that all of these efforts rely on a network of students, faculty and staff that are knowledgeable and willing to learn and contribute – all of which are in abundant supply at UF! Campus Master Plan and CALM Plans can be viewed at University of Florida FP&C Campus Planning .

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pick your commute for One Less Car Day on Oct. 6

UF is challenging students, faculty and staff to give up their cars and use alternative transportation throughout the fall semester and especially on Wednesday, October 6, One Less Car Day, with the hope that it becomes a habit.

As part of the One Less Car Challenge, a celebration for participants will be held from 11 AM to 1 PM on October 6 on the Reitz Union North Lawn (or the Colonnade should it rain). The event will include free cupcakes for decorating, prize drawings and giveaways, and various games where attendees can have fun while learning the benefits of alternative modes.

Tickets to the Women’s Volleyball match against Tennessee—this season’s green game—will be distributed to the first 200 staff and faculty attendees, compliments of the University Athletic Association. Office of Sustainability Director Anna Prizzia and Student Body President Ashton Charles will also speak and honor those who have committed to alternative transportation through the challenge.

In the evening, Chipotle Mexican Grill on University Avenue will offer free burritos from 5 PM to 7 PM to anyone wearing a One Less Car t-shirt or button and RUB Entertainment will host an Alternative Transportation Forum from 8 PM to 10 PM in the Orange and Brew. The public is invited to join City Commissioner Randy Wells and Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager Sean McLendon to discuss energy conservation and alternative transportation in Gainesville.

The One Less Car Challenge runs through November 19, with various mini-challenges and prize opportunities along the way. For more information, visit www.sustainable.ufl.edu/onelesscar or follow One Less Car on Facebook.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Curriculum Development: First Annual Prairie Project Workshop Held

While most of campus was on summer vacation, a small group of dedicated faculty participated in UF's first annual Prairie Project Workshop. The two-day event drew together 28 faculty from diverse fields across the university (and Santa Fe College) to learn about environmental issues and sustainability. Based on a national program started at Emory University, and endorsed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the program was designed to provide the foundation for the development of new courses or course materials and to build a skill set for leaders in the effort to infuse sustainability concepts into university curricula.

During the two-day workshop a professional facilitator led discussions about sustainability, environmental issues, the local Florida/Alachua County ecosystem, and the political, economic, social, philosophical, and ethical dimensions of these issues. Local resource experts provided information on local ecology, public health, environmental justice, and an overview of campus environmental efforts. The lectures, discussions, outdoor time, and workshop materials highlighted connections among these issues, the campus, and broader national and international issues of sustainability.

At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant was asked to develop a work plan and become a sustainability resource person within their college. Throughout the school year, Prairie Project fellows will attend follow-up meetings to report on their progress and share their experience integrating sustainability into the curriculum at UF.

Faces of Sustainability - New Student Programs

The Division of Student Affairs as a part of the University of Florida is dedicated to creating and supporting a sustainable UF. As part of an educational institution we believe it is our responsibility to not only be good stewards of the environment in our day to day work, but to also help educate our students and community about sustainability and the important role they have in creating not only a more sustainable UF but also a more sustainable world. "We are in a unique position when it comes to reaching the student audience, and while we work hard to be more sustainable internally, it is a key focus of ours to spread the message and create the experience of sustainability for students," said Jaime Gresly, Assistant Dean and Director of New Student Programs.

As a member of the Division of Student Affairs, New Student Programs is committed to exemplifying these values and behaviors in their facilities, programming and daily work. These efforts come in many forms, from printing double sided to using compostable plates as well as reusable plates, cups and silverware when possible at large events. This year's preview staffers received a specific presentation on sustainability so they can inform incoming students and their families about the various efforts and opportunities that exist at UF, and the selection for the 2010 Common Reading Program (CRP) similarly reflects a commitment to provoking thought and passion around sustainability. In addition to bringing the CRP book author - William Kamkwamba - to campus, other speakers in their Featured Speaker Series focus on topics of social and environmental sustainability. "It is our hope that the students who interact with our staff, utilize our facilities and engage in programs will not only learn about how we incorporate sustainable practices in our daily operations but in turn will learn how they can incorporate sustainable practices too!"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One Less Car Challenge is back for third year at UF

University of Florida faculty, staff, and students will show their commitment to alternative transportation during the third annual One Less Car Challenge this fall.

The challenge continues until Nov. 19, and focuses on individual commitment to commute by foot, bike, bus, carpool or another alternative mode throughout the fall semester.

To kick off the challenge, the Office of Sustainability will host an Alternative Transportation Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday on the Reitz Student Union North Lawn. Clubs and local organizations will have information about the various transportation options available on campus and around Gainesville, as well as games and other fun activities and giveaways.

One Less Car Day will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 6 on the Reitz Student Union Colonnade and North Lawn. The event is a celebration of the benefits from alternative transportation and will honor those who have stepped up to the challenge. The event will also feature games and activities, with the opportunity to win a variety of prizes.

The campus community is challenged to use alternative transportation on One Less Car Day and throughout the semester. Since 2008, nearly 3,000 people have participated, avoiding more than 78,000 trips and keeping 375 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.

“We are thrilled to see the support and excitement surrounding the One Less Car challenge, and look forward to the program’s continued growth among the campus community,” said Anna Prizzia, director of the Office of Sustainability.

Those interested in taking part in the challenge can join the Sustainable UF team and log the miles they commute with the UF GreenRide software. Points are awarded for each trip traveled by alternative transportation, and the challenge encourages participants to earn bonus points through “invite a friend” referrals. Participants can also start or join their own teams to encourage healthy competition amongst friends and colleagues.

Registration is ongoing. Members of the UF community can find out more information, sign up for the challenge, and join a team online at http://sustainable.ufl.edu/onelesscar.

For more information, contact Ashley Pennington at amp1986@ufl.edu or (352) 392-7578.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Energy and Climate Change at UF

The main campus of the University of Florida uses approximately 470,000 megawatts of power from Progress Energy annually, and spent roughly $38 million for electricity in 2008. Because the majority of our energy comes from fossil fuel sources, such as coal and natural gas, energy use in our buildings is the primary contributor to UF’s carbon footprint.

In 2006, UF president J. Bernard Machen was the first to sign the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, committing to reduce our carbon emissions and educate our campus community about climate change. The University of Florida has completed carbon inventory for 2004-05 as a baseline, and is working on an inventory tool that will regularly update. UF has also published a Climate Action Plan and set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.

For more information on what UF is doing and how to get involved, check out Chomp Down on Energy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faces of Sustainability - New Vet Med Teams Hit The Ground Running

Shortly after the start of this year, the College of Veterinary Medicine formed a number of department Green Teams, and met with the Office of Sustainability to ensure they had all the necessary tools, knowledge, and ideas to make their office spaces and business practices more sustainable.

The Dean’s Office team is making strides in energy conservation by participating in the “Chomp Down on Energy” campaign, as well as promoting recycling and waste reduction. Captain Mary Ring promptly reached out to get some additional bins in the building, and team members have been actively removing the office address from junk mail lists to help cut waste at the source. “Education is key,” says Ring, as is recognition for any and all efforts to help encourage camaraderie in sustainability. “If there's one thing we've all learned during the course of the past 6 months it is that every little accomplishment is an important part of the big accomplishment and everyone should be just as thrilled in results whether large or small,” she said.

The Department of Infectious Disease and Pathology team and their captain, Anna Lundgren, are also getting creative. While the team sends out an e-newsletter to keep staff aware of efforts and provide tips, they are also working to audit vending machine use in the hopes of eliminating one of three machines to reduce energy consumption and encourage the use of reusable bottles.

Captain Barbara Dupont has a number of exciting efforts underway in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. In addition to switching to all electronic exams in the Health Science Center, the team has also put in place a process for saving dry ice packs from deliveries, keeping the environmentally sensitive waste out of the trash and allowing for reuse by others. SACS is also working on a green employee pledge to be included as part of their new hire packet, as well as a similar pledge for current employees.

Jennifer Wallace with the UF Small Animal Hospital made sure to obtain recycling bins for the lobby, while department staff is working hard to shut computers off at night and coordinate with management on adjusting student default printer settings to double-sided.

For more information on Green Teams visit the Green Teams website, or contact Ashley Pennington.

Sustainable Floridians: New County Extension Pilot Program Hopes to Expand Sustainability Conversation, Action around State

Starting in the fall of 2010, a pilot program, Sustainable Floridians, will be offered through IFAS Extension. Sustainable Floridians will provide a forum for education and action that addresses concerns specific to Florida’s ecosystems, economy and growth at the local and regional scales.

The non-credit adult education program is designed for citizen volunteers who enroll through county extension offices. It is a hybrid of instructor-led sessions and a peer-to-peer model. The instructor-led portion ensures provision of reliable, Florida specific information incorporated into a 7-week curriculum, while the peer interaction section brings in local knowledge, fosters group cohesion, and provides for a more dynamic learning experience.

The program is designed to take advantage of extension service institutional strengths to deliver sustainability programming. These strengths include delivery of sound, reputable information in a network of existing communication channels throughout the state of Florida. County faculty will lead the program with technical assistance from state specialists and with involvement from a lead volunteer who receives special training in advance.

The primary goals of the program include satisfying the demand among citizens for sustainability programs, creating leadership groups within the community to take on service projects appropriate to that community, and providing greater resilience for communities by working with citizens at grassroots level. Each class will pick a group project early on, such as creation of a local eating guide, installation of a rain or community garden, or participating in low-income weatherization projects. Planning and implementing this project is the capstone element of the course. As with other master programs, participants will take on an obligation to contribute a number of hours in service equivalent to the hours received in their education and training, and those who complete all these requirements will be awarded certification.

Article is courtesy of Kathryn Ziewitz, Florida Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill – What Can You Do?

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is likely the worst environmental disaster the nation has seen, and while the state of Florida has been and will be impacted in ways very different from much of the country, there are also some ways each of us can help.

Visit our UF's Oil Spill Response page for information on what the University of Florida is doing and resources on how to assist with efforts to clean up the Gulf and its wildlife.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UF Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Sustainable Change on Campus

This year’s Campus Earth Day Celebration included herb giveaways from Gators for a Sustainable Campus, clothing donations and hazardous waste collection. There were also educational games, art activities and a number of student and community organizations interacting with passersby. A “Greening Your Career: Bringing Sustainability to the Workplace” panel discussion, hosted individuals speaking on how they had incorporated sustainability principles into their positions, and advice for students about to enter the workforce about how to channel their own passions when they transition.

President Machen gave his annual “State of Sustainability at UF” address, emphasizing the importance of individual action and the part every Gator plays in transforming our university. He commented on the solar panels currently being installed on Powell Hall, and what this can mean for both UF and the community at large. These panels, done in partnership with Progress Energy, not only represent a step toward sourcing energy through renewable means, but to also be an engaging, educational piece for the over 200,000 annual visitors to the Florida Museum of Natural History about the prospects of solar energy in sunshine state.

Additionally he remarked on our continued recognition on the national scene. The University of Florida was most recently included in the Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges.

This year also marked the second year of the Sustainable Solutions Awards. There were a number of notable achievements, and the following list helps reflect some of the efforts, individuals and groups who help champion sustainability here at UF:

Most Active Green Team - Finance and Accounting
Most Active Student Organization - 2010 Solar Decathlon Team
Waste Reduction - Online Swap Meet Program
Student Waste Reduction - Florida Alternative Breaks
Water Conservation - “Can You Take A 5-Minute Shower?” - Water Conservation Pilot Program
Energy Efficiency and Conservation - Physical Plant Division, Retro-Commissioning Team
Student Energy Efficiency and Conservation - Neutral Gator Renter’s Initiative
Bright Idea Award - “Pushing the Envelope” Campaign, Susan Smith
Student Bright Idea Award - Clotheslines at Campus Housing Facilities, Ricardo Brown-Salazar

Congratulations to all of our winners and nominees!

Commencement Goes Carbon Neutral

This year, all Gator graduates will be “green” graduates. Inspired by the carbon neutral 2009-2010 Gator athletic season, the O’Connell Center and the UF Office of Sustainability continue to make strides toward the university goal of carbon neutrality by offsetting the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the University Auditorium and the O’Connell Center’s utilities during commencement ceremonies.

“We are always looking for new ways to be sustainable, and we are thrilled to contribute to the university wide goal of carbon neutrality during this premier event on campus,” said Lynda Reinhart, director of the O’Connell Center.

The offsets, purchased through the local nonprofit Neutral Gator and coordinated with assistance from UF’s Physical Plant, help reduce UF’s footprint while simultaneously helping to fund a more energy-efficient Gainesville. Taking such large and interactive events and making them carbon neutral also helps educate the Gator Nation of UF’s dedication to sustainability and how every facet of the orange and blue can go green.

Additionally, more than 350 graduating students signed the Green Graduation Pledge, committing to carry the values of sustainability with them as they move on from the University of Florida.

The Office of Sustainability and the Student Government agency, Gators Going Green, joined to promote the pledge, tabling at various events throughout the spring term and at cap and gown pickup, in addition to adding an online capability to sign the pledge. The site will allow graduates to connect and reflect on sustainability in a global context, as well as stay informed and involved with sustainable developments at UF. A reception was held at Boca Fiesta on April 22 to honor this year’s signatories, foster new relationships, and celebrate these students’ commitment to spread sustainable change.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UF College of Design, Construction and Planning graduates first Sustainability and the Built Environment students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- On May 1, Amy Long will walk across the stage at the Phillip’s Center for the Performing Arts to accept her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. Just a year later, she plans to earn her master’s degree with the ultimate goal of becoming an urban planner for a Florida city.

Long is a member of the first class graduating from UF with the Bachelor of Science in Sustainability and the Built Environment from the College of Design, Construction and Planning.

The program gives students an important grounding in environmental issues and ideas as they relate to designing and constructing buildings.

Long says what the program teaches is invaluable.

"I started off in architecture, but I realized that we really need to focus on making infrastructure more environmentally sensitive," she says. "Instead of making new things, I wanted to focus on improving what we already have."

Because of the program’s unique structure, Long only will need another year of classes before she can receive her master’s degree in urban and regional planning.

The program includes a capstone course, or final project, which asks students to tackle a problem in the field. Long looked into sustainable energy, but other topics included design of a single family home, how to produce food in a sustainable way and reconstructing New Orleans.

Another unique program feature gives students the choice to participate in either a field experience or a practicum course. Long’s practicum involved working with the UF’s Solar Decathlon Team, a team of faculty and students designing and building an 800-square-foot sustainable home for the Solar Decathlon Europe competition

Christopher Silver, dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning, says the program provides an outlet for students to build upon their more traditional majors in relationship to the larger society.

"We are trying to find ways for students to be more interdisciplinary because that’s what is happening in the real world," Silver says. "From this program, you can go in many different directions. I could envision these students going on to graduate work in a variety of professional fields."

Peggy Carr, associate dean for undergraduate studies, agrees.

"We think this provides an important grounding in issues and ideas essential in society today and in the future," Carr says. "People now recognize that we can no longer waste resources, and the built environment disciplines captured by our college are huge consumers of those resources. These students have been trained to consider the full impact of those decisions."

Long is an example of this awareness.

"The tools and knowledge that are gained through the program are not just relevant to certain sections of society," Long says. "Sustainability is crucial in all walks of life and has aspects that everyone can relate to. Perhaps the greatest impact that graduates of this program can have is to educate others on the importance on sustainability and the small things that everyone can do to help make a difference in the world."

Writer:Alexandra Layos, news@dcp.ufl.edu, 352-392-4836, ext. 324

Contact:Peggy Carr, mcarr@ufl.edu, 352-392-4836, ext. 308

Monday, April 19, 2010

40 Days of Change - Week 6

This week marks the culmination of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign, 40 opportunities to make a CHANGE in your home, life and world in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The week will feature a variety of activities and opportunities for students, staff and faculty to recognize notable sustainability achievements of the past year and discuss opportunities for the future. Some of the events in Gainesville include:

Monday April 19
Sign the Green Graduation Pledge
UF Bookstore, 10am-4pm

Tuesday April 20
Sustainable Products Tradeshow
Reitz Union Grand Ballroom, 10am-2pm
The State of Solar, presented by ASES
106 Rinker Hall, 6:30pm

Wednesday April 21
CAMPUS EARTH DAY CELEBRATION
Plaza of the Americas
Hazardous and Electronic Waste Collection - 10am-3pm
Greening Your Career panel - 11am
Status of Sustainability presentation by UF President, Bernie Machen - 1pm
Sustainable Solutions Awards Presentation – 1:30pm

Thursday April 22
Earth Days Reception and Movie
Hippodrome, 5:30pm-9pm

Friday April 23
Recycle Your Coursepacks
Campuswide, all day

Saturday April 24
UF Cultural Plaza Earth Day Celebration
UF Cultural Plaza, 10am-3pm

Monday, April 12, 2010

40 Days of Change - Week 5

This week marks days 28 – 34 of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign, 40 opportunities to make a CHANGE in your home, life and world. Some of the events on campus and in Gainesville this week include:

The University of Florida Office of Sustainability is proud to host the first Florida Food Summit, April 12-13. The event at UF’s Reitz Student Union will facilitate networking, dialogue, and visioning among members of the Florida food system, and help develop the connections needed for robust farm-to-institution programs.


Monday, April 12

  • Challenges and Opportunities for the Food System in Alachua County
    9:45 - 11:00am, Rion Ballroom
  • Food on the Lawn Fair and Farmers Market Be a part of the first ever farmers market on campus. Buy local produce and learn about local and state food organizations and efforts, 11:00am - 3:00pm, North Lawn and Terrace
  • Challenges and Opportunities for the Florida Food System
    3:30 - 5:00pm, Rion Ballroom
  • Michael Dimock, Can Food Be Local, Healthy and Fair?
    8:00pm, Rion Ballroom
Tuesday, April 13

  • Basics of Home Gardens
    9:30 - 10:45am – JWRU Room 286
  • Stories of Local Cheeses, Dairy Farms and Cheese Lovers
    9:30 - 10:45am – JWRU Room 285
  • Food and Ethics
    11:00am - 12:15pm – JWRU Room 286

  • Making Food Visible: Practice and Pedagogy in the Arts
    1:30 - 2:45pm – JWRU Room 286
  • Faith and Seed: Sustainable Agriculture and Religious Values
    3:00 - 4:15pm – JWRU Room 286
  • The Meaning of Labels
    3:00 - 4:15pm – JWRU Room 285
  • Range, Furrow and Grove: Images of Florida Agriculture
    5:00 - 7:00pm – JWRU Gallery
  • Robert Stone and Carlton Ward, Jr., Florida Cowboys: Reflections on the Past and Visions for the Future
    7:30pm Rion Ballroom

All Food Summit events are free and open to the public.

For more information visit:
http://www.sustainability.ufl.edu/what-can-you-do/FoodSummit.html

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

40 Days of Change - Week 4

This week marks days 21 – 27 of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign, 40 opportunities to make a CHANGE in your home, life and world. Some of events on campus and in Gainesville this week include:

FOOD WEEK - 5 Days, 5 Issues Sponsored by UF Student Organizations

Diverse student groups will host events highlighting the problems, solutions, and opportunities presented by our current food system. The events will cover local to global food issues. Come hungry and be prepared to leave with a full stomach and mind.

Monday April 5
Stop Hunger Now!
Broward Basement, 630pm-830pm


Tuesday April 6
Be Organic & Slow Food
Plaza of the Americas, 1pm-3pm


Wednesday April 7
Young Farmers and the Future of Agriculture
New Physics Building 1002, 630pm-830pm


Thursday April 8
The True Cost of Food
Williamson Hall 100, 630pm-830pm


Friday April 9
The Bitter Side of Sugar
CSE E119, 6pm-8pm


Saturday April 10
The Old Homestead Trail
Dudley Farm, 10am-12pm


Sunday April 11
Food and Faith: A Panel Discussion on Sustainability, Food and Religion
Friends of the Music Room, University Auditorium

Next week's events include the Florida Food Summit (April 12 - 13). The event at UF’s Reitz Student Union will facilitate networking, dialogue, and visioning among members of the Florida food system, and help develop the connections needed for robust farm-to-institution programs. All FFS events are free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, follow the links below.

Food Summit Day 1: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=105157976186258&ref=ts

Food on the Lawn Farmers Market and Fair: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=108291702532173&ref=ts

Food Summit Day 2: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=108765575813525&ref=ts

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

40 Days of Change: Week 3

This week marks days 14 – 20 of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign, 40 opportunities to make a CHANGE in your home, life and world. Some of events on campus and in Gainesville this week include:

Monday March 29
Meatless Monday
Worldwide, all day

Tuesday March 30
Register Your Bike
Campuswide, all day

Wednesday March 31
Union Street Farmers Market
Downtown Plaza, 4pm-7pm

Thursday April 1
Getting Below the Surface - UF Water Institute Seminar
209 Emerson Alumni Hall, 3pm-5pm

Friday April 2
Explore Campus Conservation Areas
Campuswide, all day

Saturday April 3
Ardisia Days: Invasive Plant Cleanup
San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, 9am-12pm

Sunday April 4
Visit Gainesville Natural Areas
Citywide, all day

For event details and full calendar, visit www.sustainability.ufl.edu/40daysThe University of Florida Office of Sustainability is proud to sponsor 40 Days of Change in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. From March 16th to April 24th, members of the local community and Gator Nation at-large are invited to make a change in their lives, homes and world by participating in sustainability-focused events throughout the area. Activities during the 40 days will encourage participants of all ages to be active both socially and physically through interactive participation in indoor and outdoor events. 40 Days of Change will culminate with the Florida Food Summit and Campus Earth Day celebration in April.

Follow Sustainable UF on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sustainableUF

Thursday, March 25, 2010

UF Food Summit to showcase issues surrounding Florida food systems, sustainability

The University of Florida Office of Sustainability will host the first Florida Food Summit April 12-13. The event at UF’s Reitz Student Union will facilitate networking, dialogue, and visioning among members of the Florida food system, and help develop the connections needed for robust farm-to-institution programs.

The summit is part of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign – a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

The event will commence with a welcome reception, followed by public panels focusing on local food systems at the local and state level. Additional events include film screenings, multimedia presentations and a “Food on the Lawn” fair and farmers market. “Food on the Lawn” will take place on UF’s Plaza of the Americas from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 12, and feature food demonstrations, educational displays and local produce for sale. A photography exhibition, “Range, Furrow, and Grove: Images of Florida Agriculture,” will also be on display April 5-17 in the Reitz Student Union Gallery.

Michael Dimock, executive director of Roots for Change, will present a keynote speech on sustainable food system development. The presentation will take place the evening of April 12. Robert Stone, outreach coordinator for Florida Folklife Program, will present “Florida Cowboys and Agricultural History” the evening of April 13.

A special workshop will be held April 13 for local and national stakeholders invited to share their knowledge on and ideas for creating and accelerating farm-to-institution programs.

Additional programs hosted in the days leading up to the event will complement the summit program and include movie showings, student-led programs and a panel entitled “Food and Faith,” featuring local religious leaders.

Sponsors of the event include Alachua County, Aramark Higher Education and Darden Restaurants, along with considerable support from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in planning and participation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

UF team sets open house for solar home that will compete internationally

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Solar Decathlon team will hold several events this week to showcase its project: a student-designed solar home that will compete internationally this summer.

The events culminate in an open house Friday where the public can tour the home that will compete in Solar Decathlon Europe, an international competition designed to advance innovation and research in solar, sustainable and industrialized housing.


The Project: RE: FOCUS team will encourage the UF community to “Make a Change, Not a Footprint” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Plaza of the Americas with an expo featuring solar panels, renderings of the home, the home’s floor plan staked out to scale, and other information on the project.

On Thursday morning, Project RE:FOCUS will take over the 34th Street wall to inspire the Gainesville community members to make a small change in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint.

Friday’s open house will feature tours of the home, information about the project and presentations by College of Design, Construction and Planning Dean Christopher Silver, team leader and building construction professor Robert Ries and student team leader and doctoral student Dereck Winning.

“The Solar Decathlon gives students from across the university the opportunity to work together on a real-world project, and Friday will be the first opportunity for the team to present their work to the sponsors and the community,” Ries said.

The open house will take place at the UF Solar Energy Park, 2610 S.W. 23rd Terrace, from 3 to 6 p.m., with the presentations delivered at 3:15 p.m. Those who attend are encouraged to carpool to promote sustainability and due to limited parking.

The UF team, comprised of more than 125 students from four colleges and eight disciplines, will compete in Madrid this June in 10 categories that include solar power, innovation, sustainability and communication. The team’s entry fuses innovation with the design of the historic Florida Cracker House to further the field of solar energy and inspire solutions for sustainable living that fit market needs.

For updates on the house, visit http://www.floridasolardecathlon.org/

Writing Credits: Kathryn Watson

Weaver Hall wins Battle of the Halls water usage competition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Weaver Hall is the winner of the 2010 “Eco-Challenge: Battle of the Halls” water usage competition in University of Florida residence halls. Weaver residents saved 23.26 gallons of water per resident, per day, in January, compared with average water usage from February and March 2009. This is a savings of 122,580 gallons of water in Weaver Hall during January.

This year, 18 of 24 residence hall communities used less water per resident, per day, during the competition. The water savings ranged from slight to impressive, from 1.52 to 23.26 less gallons of water per resident, per day. One hall used slightly more gallons of water, 7.95 more gallons per resident, per day. Five halls had disqualified or missing meter readings for the comparison time periods.

Campus-wide cost savings, as a result of this competition, were moderate and are viewed in the context of a year-long budget for utilities. The utility charges campus residents pay are a pass-through cost included in semester rent. Utility charges for the fiscal year are set each March and are based on usage averages established over many years and the prevailing water rates charged by local utility providers.

“Our Eco-Challenge contests focus on saving resources rather than on saving money,” said Sharon Blansett, Housing Green Team captain. “We encourage residents to practice behaviors that will reduce their environmental footprint now and in the future.”

“Eco-Challenge: Battle of the Halls” competitions are cosponsored by the Inter-Residence Hall Association and the Department of Housing and Residence Education Green Team. The winners of the energy challenge and overall winner will be announced later in March. The winning residence hall communities will be recognized campus-wide prior to Finals Week.

Credits: Sharon Blansett, SharonB@housing.ufl.edu

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

40 Days of Change: Week 2

This week marks days 7 – 13 of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign, 40 opportunities to make a CHANGE in your home, life and world. Some of events on campus and in Gainesville this week include:

Monday March 22
Recycled Goods Arts and Crafts Forum- ACTIONS!
Environmental Awareness Week Reitz Union, 6pm-7pm

Tuesday March 23
Save My Oceans tour
Plaza of the Americas, 10am-3pm

Wednesday March 24
enVeg Vegan Cooking Demonstration
Yulee Hall Commons, 7pm-8pm

Thursday March 25
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink!
Plaza of the Americas, 10am-3pm

Friday March 26
Solar Decathlon Open House
UF Energy Research and Education Park

Saturday March 27
Earth Hour Worldwide,
8:30pm-9:30pm

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lights to go out at Century Tower, other sites as UF observes Earth Hour

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Century Tower will go dark this weekend as the University of Florida observes Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a worldwide effort to turn off lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27 to save energy and demonstrate a commitment to fighting climate change.

The lights around Century Tower and lights on fountains and on outdoor art installations will be off from Friday evening until Monday morning. The University Athletic Association also confirmed additional campus spots that will go dark for the weekend include the stadium north end signs, the basketball lobby, the Gate 18 donor lights and Ben Hill Griffin signage on Stadium Road West. Additionally, the electronic marquees at several entrances to the UF campus will be dark from 5 p.m. Friday until noon Saturday.

This is the third year UF has encouraged students, faculty and staff to participate in Earth Hour and the second year campus landmarks have been turned off. Turning off lights at Century Tower and other campus icons will symbolize the school’s commitment to sustainability without affecting lights on streets, sidewalks or parking garages to ensure campus safety isn’t compromised.

“We are glad to be a part of this global movement to bring awareness to energy conservation,” Prizzia said. “We hope darkening our campus icons will inspire people to contemplate their own energy impacts.”

The office will also urge students, especially those living in residence halls, to turn off nonessential lighting during Earth Hour.

Earth Hour started three years ago in Sydney, Australia, and became a global event in 2008 when more than 400 cities turned off extra lights, including those at the Sydney Opera House, the Coliseum and the Empire State Building, according to the World Wildlife Fund Web site.

For more information about Earth Hour nationally visit https://www.myearthhour.org/home

Contact: Ashley Pennington.

Monday, March 15, 2010

40 Days of Change: Days 1 - 5

This week marks the launch of the Office of Sustainability’s 40 Days of Change campaign; 40 opportunities to make a CHANGE in your home, life and world. Some of events on campus and in Gainesville this week include:

Tuesday 3/16
40 Days of Change Kickoff Activities
Reitz Union Colonnade, 10:30am-1:30pm

Wednesday 3/17
UF Lacrosse and Softball Green Games
UF Lacrosse Field and Softball Stadium, 6:30pm

Thursday 3/18
Alternatively Fueled Vehicles Display and Panel Discussion
Reitz Union North Lawn, 10am-3:30pm

Friday March 3/19
1st Annual Gainesville Environmental Film & Arts Festival
Hippodrome, The Age of Stupid (7pm) and The End of the Line (9pm)
Invisible Children's Legacy Tour
Reitz Union, Room 282, 7:00pm

Saturday March 3/20
Kanapaha Spring Garden Festival
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, 9am-6pm

Follow Sustainable UF on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sustainableUF

REMEMBER - Submit applications for Sustainable Solutions Awards online: www.sustainability.ufl/ssa

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

UF asks Gators to mark 40 days of change to commemorate Earth Day

The University of Florida Office of Sustainability will sponsor “40 Days of Change” in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

From March 16 to April 24, members of the local community and Gator Nation are invited to make a change in their lives, homes and world by participating in sustainability-focused events throughout the area.

“40 Days of Change” will launch on March 16 with a series of interactive activities at the Reitz Student Union. Participants can plant their own edible greens, make jewelry from recycled materials, and learn more about the campaign.

The campaign encourages participants to be active both socially and physically through interactive events including University of Florida Lacrosse and Softball “Green Games” on March 17, the Gainesville Environmental Film & Arts Festival on March 19-28, a handmade natural soap workshop on March 20, “Range, Furrow, and Grove: Images of Florida Agriculture” photography exhibition on April 5-17, walking tours of Paynes Prairie every Thursday and “5 Days 5 Issues” presentations by UF student organizations April 5-9.

The focal point of “40 Days of Change” will be the 2010 Florida Food Summit, hosted by the UF Office of Sustainability, on April 12 -13. The event will take place at the university’s Reitz Student Union and will facilitate networking, dialogue, and visioning among members of the Florida food system, and help develop the connections needed for robust farm-to-institution programs.

The campaign will culminate with Earth Day events on campus and in the community April 19-24. UF’s campus Earth Day celebration on April 21st will include the annual State of Sustainability address by President Bernie Machen on the Plaza of the Americas, followed by the presentation of this year’s Sustainable Solutions Award recipients. Sustainable Alachua County and the UF Office of Sustainability will host “Earth Days,” the movie, at the Hippodrome during the week, and on April 24, the Florida Museum of Natural History will hold a community Earth Day celebration and Rebuild Together will provide a chance to volunteer in the community for National Rebuilding Day.

“40 Days of Change” is an opportunity for community members to learn more about sustainability initiatives while contributing and interacting with each other. The full schedule of events, with information on times and locations, can be found here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New UF parking garage wins design award, sustainability citation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s new $20 million Southwest Parking Garage Complex has won the 2009 Award of Excellence for New Design from the Florida Parking Association.

The award was presented to UF, PGAL and James Cummings Inc. for their strong collaboration. PGAL, a national architecture and engineering firm, designed the complex. James A. Cumming Inc., of Fort Lauderdale, was the design/build team leader.

The team built a six-level, 313,000-square-foot parking garage with 927 spaces and an attached two-story Transportation and Parking Services office building.

The most outstanding feature of the complex is its exceptional sustainability for both the garage’s design and construction.

The complex was named the nation’s first LEED Gold parking garage facility. To be considered for this award, LEED ranks facilities on their site planning, water management, energy management, material use, indoor air quality and innovation and design process. To receive gold certification, the second-highest rating, a building must earn 39 of a possible 69 points in those six areas.

We are delighted that UF has achieved the first parking facility in the nation to receive the LEED Gold certification,” said Scott Fox, director of the UF Transportation and Parking Services.

The new facility is part of the university’s pioneering “green” master plan.

Without question it was UF’s commitment from the first day of design to construct a truly sustainable parking facility,” Fox said.

The parking garage is also a candidate to be certified as LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. If certified, the complex will be the nation’s first LEED Platinum parking facility. There are only 141 LEED Platinum buildings of any type worldwide.

In 2001, the university adopted LEED criteria for design and construction of all major renovation projects on campus. The Heavener Football Complex is the nation’s first LEED Platinum athletic facility. The campus also has two LEED Gold buildings, one of which is the first LEED Gold facility in Florida.

The complex provides parking for students, faculty and medical personnel.

Author: Kristen Bowe, University Relations

Monday, February 22, 2010

Annual Sustainable Florida Best Practice Awards

Sustainable Florida is now accepting nominations for its annual Best Practice Awards program to honor and promote outstanding examples of sustainable development principles—e.g., water and energy conservation, waste diversion, community engagement, building social capital, building green, transportation alternatives, historic preservation, healthy initiatives, organic farming, landscape innovations, and more.

The nomination deadline is at the end of March. The awards program will held June 4 at the Florida Green Building Coalition Green Trends conference. And, the Governor and Cabinet usually honor the winners with a resolution at a later meeting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

UF Department of Housing a Leader in Campus Sustainability

The Department Of Housing is helping to set the bar for Green Teams and sustainability on campus. They have been actively participating in their own energy conservation campaign since last year, in addition to numerous other efforts that reflect their commitment to cutting UF’s carbon footprint.

Housing placed light switch covers throughout residence halls and Student Affairs facilities to remind students and staff to turn off lights when not in use, and initiated a “Computers Off!” campaign for staff and residents. Residents are educated on power-saving practices for their personal computers and encouraged to be more mindful of consumption.

“The Housing and Residence Education Green Team is focusing on energy and water conservation in residence facilities,” said Sharon Blansett, green team captain. “Our education programs and messages emphasize that small, consistent individual effort can make a difference.”

They are also close to wrapping up the 2010 “Eco-Challenge: Battle of the Halls.” In the challenge, residence halls compete to see which group of students can reduce their water and energy consumption the most. January focused on water conservation and February focuses on energy use. Points for the waste reduction competition accrue throughout the challenge. The winners will be announced April 21 at the campus Earth Day Celebration.

Additionally, staff are continuing with other structural efforts such as expanding motion-sensor lighting, replacing older windows with higher efficiency ones, and retrofitting lighting systems.

Housing’s efforts help exemplify the need for unique and focused action across campus. Not only are these efforts critical in cutting facilities’ consumption and modifying staff behavior to be more sustainable, but they are helping transform the student culture around sustainability at UF.

For more information about Housing visit here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Public Interest Environmental Conference at UF College of Law

The University of Florida Levin College of Law hosts the 16th Annual Public Interest Environmental Conference, Feb. 25-27. This year’s theme, "Bringing It All Back Home," focuses on the growing interest in local solutions and the legal and policy issues these present, distributed across three thematic tracks, land use, local economies and leadership, described below. The full agenda and registration details can be viewed at www.law.ufl.edu/piec

Plenary presentations by evolutionary ecologist Robert Rosenzwieg, author of “Win-Win Ecology,” and city planner Darrin Nordahl, author of "Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture," will kick off the Friday morning tracks.

A Friday lunch event titled Restoring the Trust: Water Resources and the Public Trust Doctrine, will feature legal scholars and policy analysts from the Washington D.C. based Center for Progressive Reform discussing the use of their Manual for Advocates.

Saturday workshops will focus on the nuts and bolts of the rezoning and land development approval process using a case study approach presented by the Public Interest Committee of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of the Florida Bar, and on cultivating a new generation of environmental leaders, sponsored by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service and the UF Office of Sustainability.

Keynote speakers bring these themes home. On Thursday evening, the conference will pay tribute to Professor Julian Jurgensmeyer, who has had a profound influence on Florida land use law and trained generations of Florida Land Use lawyers. Friday’s banquet will feature author Bill Bellville, author of "Losing it All to Sprawl: How Progress Ate my Cracker Landscape."

Content provided by UF College of Law

The Second Annual Sustainable Solutions Awards - Nominations Open!

The Office of Sustainability will host the 2nd annual Sustainable Solutions Awards as part of the “40 Days of Change for the Earth” for Earth Day 2010. Award recipients will be announced Wednesday, April 21 at the Earth Day Celebration, following President J. Bernard Machen’s annual State of Sustainability address.

Nominations open Monday, February 15 and run through Friday, March 26. Nominate here!

The awards recognize individuals or teams which have made significant contributions toward advancing sustainability at UF. Qualifying projects will have helped to realize the Vision for a Sustainable UF in the categories of Waste Reduction, Water Conservation or Energy Conservation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

NASA awards University of Florida $870,000 grant to study land use cover change

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have received an $870,000 grant to study how to better adapt to climate change.

The NASA Land Use Land Cover Change Program grant will fund an interdisciplinary project that will analyze relationships among climate variability, climate change, land use and land cover change. Using remote sensing applications and socio-economic surveys, the project aims to create models that could enhance planning for sustainable resource use and help the people in these areas adapt to climate change.

We hope the grant allows us to better understand the social-ecological systems response to climate variability and so to allow us to develop understanding for future climate scenarios,” said geography professor Jane Southworth, the principal investigator. “Ideally, it will allow for better adaptation strategies for local communities under changing environmental conditions.”

The grant will support graduate students and allow the project to conduct summer fieldwork in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.

To better illustrate the human suffering in this area, six doctoral students created a video documentary called “Living With Thirst,” which looked at the Vende people in the Limpopo Province of South Africa and their troubles related to climate variability. The video was funded by an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant, pertaining to Adaptive Management, Water, Wetlands and Watersheds.

We hope this video provides an introduction to the uncertainty and trade-offs faced in a region with high variability in rainfall,” said Andrea Gaughan, one of the students who worked on the video, “and how that will affect conservation initiatives balanced with sustainable livelihood decisions toward water allocation/resources.”

Video

Living with Thirst Part One
Living with Thirst Part Two

Author: Aubrey Siegel, University Relations

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Solar Cyclists at University of Florida

SolarCycle Week, hosted by the Smathers Libraries, recently wrapped up its week-long series of events, culminating with the arrival of the Solar Cyclists. Groups came together January 25th-31st from all over campus to learn more about sustainability, solar power and the incredible around-the world cycling journey of the Solar Cyclists, Susie Wheeldon and Jamie Vinning.

The program, made possible by the George A. Smathers Libraries in partnership with the UF Office of Sustainability, worked to engage faculty, staff, students and the local community around renewable energy topics.

During the month of January, exhibits were arranged in both Marston Science Library and Library West. The Department of Energy held two workshops, where faculty, staff and local business owners came together to learn how to better navigate and search the many DOE databases. For a copy of the PowerPoint from this workshop please request a copy.

There was also a screening of “The Great Squeeze,” an award-winning documentary exploring at what price modern-day prosperity has come. The event was co-sponsored by the Reitz Union Board and the film is now available for checkout at Library West.

The week came to a close on Thursday with the SolorCycle Expo on the Plaza and the Solar Cyclists’ presentation. Campus and community groups and organizations tabled on the Plaza of the Americas, raising awareness on alternative energy and sustainability. Kathy Viehe of GRU spoke on the Gainesville Solar Feed in Tariff program. Read more about the groundbreaking program here.

In their keynote presentation Wheeldon and Vinning spoke candidly about their cycling journey, how and why it came to fruition, and what it took to make the trip happen. There was a solar book-bag door prize, courtesy of G24 Innovations, followed by a Q&A session. A video of their presentation can be viewed here.

To mark the arrival of the cyclists, members of the Gainesville Cycling Club escorted the pair into Gainesville, while members of the Bikes and More cycling team met at the Reitz Union colonnade to escort the cyclists out of town – despite the rainy Saturday morning – as they continued on their way to Miami and back to the United Kingdom 9 months after embarking on their journey.

For more information on the Solar Cyclists, visit here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

UF Launches “Chomp Down on Energy”

The Office of Sustainability has just launched a new effort to reduce electricity use throughout campus. "Chomp Down on Energy" includes educational resources about energy consumption and the associated cost savings that can be affected through minor behavioral changes, and encourages students, staff and faculty to be more energy conscious.

The main campus of the University of Florida uses approximately 470,000 megawatts of power annually, and spent roughly $38 million for electricity in 2008, with lights and equipment, such as computers and copiers typically accounting for roughly 30-40% of a building's energy use. Currently, UF is conducting a number of building retrofit projects, including replacing T-12 fluorescent fixtures with T-8 ones, with a projected costs savings of $1.4 million over 10 years.

During this first phase of the campaign, department Green Teams can order light-switch stickers that serve as reminders for individuals to turn off lights to rooms when not in use, and are encouraged to designate of a "Last To Leave: Turn Off" person or group to ensure lighting and qualified office equipment (such as computers, copiers and coffee makers) are powered down at the end of the day. Turning off lights not only cuts down operating costs, but also extends the time between bulb replacements.

The next phases will target IT power management and labs and research areas, aiming to determine what equipment is suitable for end of day shut-down. Anna Prizzia, Director of the Office of Sustainability, notes that energy conservation can yield considerable savings for the university that can then be reallocated in more sensible ways. “In these budget constrained times, we all have to play our part in cutting costs. If we can capture both the structural and behavior opportunities for conservation at UF, there is tremendous opportunity for cost savings in the long term.

For questions about the campaign or to request stickers, contact Ashley Pennington.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Campus Kitchens

At the intersection of sustainability and community service, the student group Campus Kitchens is hard at work helping to meet hunger needs in Gainesville while promoting sustainable attitudes towards food use. Campus Kitchens at UF was founded in 2007 as a chapter of the national organization with the mission to both recycle food and address hunger issues in the surrounding area.

Campus Kitchens works with a strong volunteer base that meets periodically in the Reitz Union kitchen to put together nutritionally balanced meals from the surplus food they acquire, including unused food from campus dining and catering services. They have an output of around 150-200 meals a week, which are delivered to various locations around the community.

Partnering organizations include Porter's Community Center, Woodland Park Boys' and Girls' Club and Lake Forest Elementary School. "We'll be picking up another partner agency this semester", said chapter president Nicole Johnson. "It is a facility for pregnant teens and teen mothers who are victims of abuse or neglect or who are homeless while they continue their education. We're excited to work with them since they need our help and it helps us diversify our clientele."

Sustainability is an important part of Campus Kitchens' mission. "The Campus Kitchens project seeks to more equitably distribute our resources of food, intellectual capacity, and space for a long-term goal of community development", said Treasurer and Fundraising Chair Amanda Monaco. "We use food that would otherwise go to waste to create meals for those in need, we draw on students' and adults' creative capacity to link community resources to increase social well-being, and we make maximum usage of kitchen facilities by using the Reitz Union kitchen while it would otherwise be sitting unused. Campus Kitchens invests itself in giving these resources to those who need them most, and assuring that this creates a positive and long-term change in our local community."

There are plenty of ways to get involved with the work Campus Kitchens is doing. Volunteers can help with the cooking shifts, participate in their nutrition education programs, or staff their special events, such as their "Stop Hunger Now!" banquet this spring. To volunteer, email Community Relations Chair Sonia Hudson.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Green Team Elevates Dining Sustainability

In an effort to further advance their sustainability program, Gator Dining Services has created an internal network of Green Team captains across campus dining locations. Charged with overseeing the implementation of sustainability programs and policies, captains are helping to elevate sustainability in all aspects of their operations.

“We have around 20 captains on campus, mostly students,” said Susie Lewis, Sustainability Coordinator for Gator Dining. “These leaders serve as idea generators for new ways to incorporate sustainability into their respective locations while promoting a culture of sustainability among all employees.”

Monthly meetings address various areas of sustainability - educating captains on relevant issues and developing action items for all captains to implement. In a few short months, captains have already achieved such successes as implementing water conservation policies at their locations and conducting a comprehensive food waste audit to create a master plan for waste reduction. Many captains have also gone above and beyond and developed new programs on their own.

Bailley Carr, Green Team Captain at Einsteins at the Hub, developed a reusable cup policy for employees to cut down on their waste stream. Around 770,000 disposable cups are used on campus each year.

“I am very excited about the changes that are happening at Einsteins,” said Carr. “The other employees have been very cooperative and it seems like almost everyone is willing to contribute to reuse, even though it means a little extra work here and there.”

For a closer look at Gator Dining’s Green Team, visit their website.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

UF To Represent U.S. In International Solar Decathlon

Two years of planning, designing and building will end with the final phase of competition for the Solar Decathlon Europe in Madrid, Spain this summer. The UF Solar Decathlon Team will be one of only two U.S. universities in the competition. For the decathlon, 19 university teams from around the world compete against each other to build the best 797-square-foot modular sustainable home, according to criteria in 10 different areas.

UF’s design is unique among the competition as it takes inspiration from Florida’s own vernacular buildings, specifically the Florida Cracker House. The UF house includes passive, natural techniques – such as a central breezeway, porch and elevated platform – for a design approach that integrates traditional means of housing with innovative solar technologies to create a house that is both efficient and functional.

The competition itself has brought together students and faculty from all over the university, from as many as eight different disciplines. There is a core group of about 15 students working on the project, but approximately 120 students have had a hand in the designing or planning. Students were separated into teams with some working on design, some on communications and some on construction, according to their specific skill set.

The house is being constructed by the students at a University of Florida site, appropriately known as the Energy Park, and construction will continue this spring. Steel and wood flooring have been delivered to the site recently and students have begun construction on the Project RE:FOCUS house. Interiors and mechanical systems are the next construction tasks, followed by the deck and outdoor area.

To learn more, or to join the effort to showcase the talents of UF students in this international competition, please visit their website.

Friday, January 15, 2010

IFAS Extension Recognizes Green Businesses

The Green Business Partnership (GBP) is a voluntary assessment that recognizes businesses, business organizations, and local governments for their environmental stewardship and sustainable practices. Offered through the University of Florida/IFAS Pinellas County Extension, it encourages conservation of resources, waste reduction, energy conservation and cost savings.

After completing the self-evaluation check list available online, Pinellas County staff will provide support to implement many green practices and help maximize the ability of businesses to operate in sustainable way. The program is open to all businesses in Pinellas County that choose to implement resource conservation measures and demonstrate a culture of environmental, social and economic awareness in their business practices. An on-site assessment will be conducted to verify the performance of applicant businesses to the Green Business Partnership recommendations.

When all applicable criteria are implemented, the Green Business Partnership will be awarded and the business will be eligible to use the Green Business Partnership logo and window decals will be provided. This badge of honor can serve to highlight green business practices to those customers that would choose a Green Business among competitors. Partnerships last for three years, after which a reevaluation process will be required.

As a Green Business Partner, participants will have access to professional advice and training, listing on the Green Business Partner website and special recognition by Pinellas County. Sustainable businesses also benefit from cost savings, increased productivity and a healthier work environment.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Repurposing Goods With Asset Management

Asset Management programs and tools encourage reuse of university property- reducing cost and the environmental impact of waste. MyAssets makes it easier than ever to manage university property. MyAssets is an online tool that greatly speeds up managing asset transactions such as updating property information, transferring property and reporting of surveys. It also gives departments a work list to help manage their departmental assets and be more proactive. Most of these transactions are completed online, eliminating the need to print copies.

The UF Surplus Warehouse offers goods and services to the university and the public. The Surplus Warehouse web site has a link for available property listed by department, so that offices can obtain assets directly from one another. Contact information for the department and person listing the item is available. Additionally, the Surplus Warehouse hosts a Swap Meet website for campus departments to obtain office supplies from other departments instead of purchasing them new.

Another link shows the available property in warehouse in which one can obtain through Asset Management. Items can be seen online without having to physically go to the warehouse. Reservations can be made online for 3 days so that the items can be picked up at a convenient time. The warehouse is open for departments on Mondays through Wednesdays from 10 AM to 2 PM.

After 14 days of UF availability, items are placed up for public auction. Possible items include computers, projectors, printers, automobiles, bikes, and a varied array of scientific equipment.

For further questions or comments, please contact Asset Management at 392-2556.