USF Earns a B+ on National Sustainability Report Card

New “green” practices on campus help fuel efforts to conserve energy and reduce waste.


By Vickie Chachere News Manager


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 27, 2010) – The University of South Florida has earned its best grade yet in its efforts to promote a sustainable environment on campus and embrace new “green” practices throughout the campus community, rating a “B+” for its efforts in the College Sustainability Report Card.


The report card is the only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The report card is a project of The Sustainable Endowments Institute, which is a Cambridge-based nonprofit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices.


With this year’s report card, USF moves into the upper half of colleges and universities that have sought to reduce their campuses’ impact on the environment and sought to incorporate new practices to conserve energy and reduce waste into daily campus life.


View the report card here.


“We are very pleased to see the outcome of the Sustainability Report Card this year, which recognizes USF for its efforts toward creating a cleaner, greener campus environment. Since President Genshaft signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, sustainability has taken off at USF with rocket speed,” said Christian Wells, director of USF’s Office of Sustainability.


“Since the signing, we have incorporated sustainability into the university’s strategic plan, convened a sustainability steering committee to oversee our transition to becoming a more resilient university, established an Office of Sustainability, implemented a university-wide policy on institutional sustainability and, most recently, launched the world’s first School of Global Sustainability. Most of these initiatives got off the ground in just the past 365 days.  I can’t wait to see what next year’s report card will hold for USF.”


Of the nine categories on which USF was rated, the university earned an “A” on six measures: administration, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency and investment priorities.


USF was lauded for such efforts as including in the campus master plan policies that support green building initiatives, installing water metering technology, lighting sensors, and LED lighting in all buildings, as well as low-flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets in some buildings. The Patel Center for Global Solutions will open USF’s first fully designed “green” building at the end of the year.


Food and recycling efforts – which rates practices on buying locally-grown and fair trade foods, and reducing paper waste in campus dining centers – earned USF a “B” as did the university’s climate change and energy initiatives.


USF has conducted a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and is working to reduce emissions with the aid of carbon offsets. To decrease energy use, heat recovery systems, lighting systems, and energy-efficient lighting fixtures have been installed.


The university’s one noted shortcoming was in shareholder engagement, in which USF was graded a “D” on the mechanics of how the university carries out investment policies. USF’s endowment works with investment managers who apply high ethical standards in selecting investments and invests in renewable energy funds, but does not incorporate all the elements rated by The Sustainable Endowments Institute.


USF did earn an “A” grade in the categories of endowment transparency and investment priorities.

USF’s completed survey and report card can be found here.


In two years, USF has turned its sustainability profile around, first rating a “D+” in the 2008-09 report card before moving up to a “C” in the 2009-10 measure.


USF’s upward trajectory is the culmination of several key efforts surrounding sustainability – both as a focus of research and education and incorporated into campus life - which has become one of USF’s signature initiatives.


 In 2006, the university announced its Sustainable Healthy Communities Initiative, followed by President Judy Genshaft’s signing the American Colleges and University President’s Climate Commitment in April 2008. Last fall, the university established its first Office of Sustainability to coordinate efforts to create a sustainable campus environment and coordinate fundraising efforts and this year launched the School of Global Sustainability.


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.