Sign up for the newsletter
Sign up for our listserv

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

Source: University of Florida News