"Cool School"

USF is ranked as one of Sierra Magazine’s “Cool Schools” for its focus and practices supporting sustainability.


By Beti Gathegi

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 24, 2011) – The University of South Florida has rocketed up the rankings to No. 47 on Sierra Magazine’s list of “Cool Schools” for bringing sustainable practices to daily life.


One of the new water bottle filling stations.

Sierra Magazine ranks American colleges and universities according to their environmental practices, green initiatives, and the caliber of sustainability-focused education, publishing an annual list in their fall issue. Each school fills out a lengthy survey in order to receive a ranking, and after two years of aggressively implementing green initiatives on campus, the USF Office of Sustainability has made the list.


“I am so very excited to learn that USF has been recognized by Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, as one of America’s greenest campuses,” said Christian Wells, Director of the Office of Sustainability.


“Our ranking, 47 out of 118 schools, is confirmation that we are on the right path toward sustainability. Last year, USF didn’t even make the list at all, so our first appearance in the top 50 is impressive, to say the least.”


Among the most recognizable achievements in green efforts on campus are new water bottle filling stations located throughout USF, the Styrofoam-free dining hall and the solar panels that power campus  golf carts. USF students also recently supported the creation of a Student Green Energy Fund that will help steer USF toward a carbon-free campus fueled by renewable energy.


Here are some notable excerpts from the Sierra survey:


  • Four major building projects have been completed in the past five years. One (the Patel Center for Global Solutions) is LEED Gold certified. Four buildings currently under construction will all be LEED certified, as directed by the new campus master plan policies.
  • USF has replaced interior and exterior lights with energy efficient lighting and replaced incandescent traffic lights with LED traffic lights on campus.
  • USF Dining is a member of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which creates science-based recommendations that help make ocean-friendly seafood choices for dining locations on campus.
  • USF offers 110 sustainability-focused courses and 280 sustainability-related courses. Examples include courses on solar energy, alternative energy sources, water management technologies, and green technology enterprises.
  • The Borrow Our Bikes Green Bike Program is run by Outdoor Recreation. This service allows students to check out bicycles for free. It also provides assistance to those on campus who have bicycles, skateboards, and long boards that need repair.


To learn more about sustainability at USF, click here. Read the full Sierra Magazine “Cool Schools” report here.