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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

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.”


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.