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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.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Shower Coach Challenge: Can you take a 5-minute shower?

In conjunction with the annual Eco-Challenge, the Department of Housing and Residence Education Green Team/Recycling/Sustainability Committee is encouraging residents to take shorter, cooler showers. Residents of the Yulee Area residence hall piloted shower timers in the fall semester. Residents responded positively to the Shower timers—some say it helps them keep track of time when they are running late for class!

And the numbers clearly indicate the shower timers are working. When November 2008 water usage was compared with November 2009’s, Yulee Hall residents saved, per resident, per day, 3.43 gallons of water, Reid Hall residents 3.43 gallons, and Mallory Hall residents 3.39 gallons.

Due to the success of the pilot program, two additional residence areas, Graham and Murphree, were outfitted with shower timers this month. A five minute shower uses 12.5 gallons of water. Each additional minute uses 2.5 gallons of water.

Additional water conservation efforts are also being encouraged through reminders posted in residence halls. Recommended actions include turning off water while brushing teeth or shaving and reporting leaking faucets, shower heads, and “running” toilets through iService, the online maintenance request program.

Monday, January 4, 2010

“Battle of the Halls” Kicks Off

Residents looking to live more sustainably are in luck. The annual Battle of the Halls eco-challenge competition encourages residents to reduce resource consumption and compete for great prizes. The challenge aims to help students integrate sustainable practices into their daily lives and reduce their environmental impact.

Watch for bulletin boards and activities around waste reduction, water and energy conservation developed by Eco-Reps. The Sustainability Hut will also be tabling with fun, interactive activities at housing locations throughout January and February. Residents who are “caught green handed” doing environmentally conscious activities will be eligible for prizes.

During the months of January and February, residence halls at UF will be competing to see which group of students can reduce their water and energy consumption the most (based on a percentage reduction from last year’s readings). Points for the waste reduction competition will accrue throughout the challenge. Everyone can make a difference with small changes in their daily routines:

* reducing waste by recycling, printing double sided, and using a reusable water bottle or to-go container

* reducing energy use by turning off computers at night, unplugging electronics when not in use, and washing clothes in cold water

* reducing water use by taking shorter showers and turning off the water while brushing their teeth

The winning residence hall will be announced during the Earth Day celebration on campus, Wednesday, April 21. The winning team will win a trophy made from recycled goods and a celebration sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, a party from Gator Dining Services and a structural improvement to their hall.

It is our hope that all students will carry the skills they will learn with them into the future, implementing them for the rest of their time at UF and as they become citizens and leaders in the world.