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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,, 352-392-4836, ext. 324

Contact:Peggy Carr,, 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
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:

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:!/event.php?eid=105157976186258&ref=ts

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

Food Summit Day 2:!/event.php?eid=108765575813525&ref=ts