A Cooler 'Cool School'

USF rockets up the Sierra Magazine rankings in sustainability by creating a greener campus.


By Beti Gathegi

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla.  (Aug. 14, 2012) – The University of South Florida shot up in SIERRA magazine’s annual list of “Cool Schools" to rank 12th among American universities and colleges in implementing new green practices on campus and focusing on sustainability in research and education, the organization announced Tuesday.


Just last year, USF ranked number 47 among America’s “greenest” colleges and universities – making this year’s leap that more impressive.


“We have worked so hard at the University of South Florida to turn around our campus and community, to lead by example, and to become a cleaner, greener place to live, learn, and work,” said Christian Wells, USF’s inaugural Director of the Office of Sustainability, which is housed in the Patel School of Global Sustainability. “I couldn’t be more proud of our USF Bulls, who helped our university achieve #12 on SIERRA magazine’s annual ranking of ‘Cool Schools’.”


For six years, the magazine has released its annual ranking to salute U.S. colleges that are helping lessen their impact on the environment, addressing climate problems and making significant efforts to operate sustainably.


USF was lauded for several measures:


·         Environment: More than 2,000 trees have been planted on campus in the last 15 years. And since 1995 the use of drought-tolerant, native plants has increased.


·         Energy: The Student Green Energy Fund, sponsored by a $1 per-credit-hour student fee, helps support energy projects on campus, such as the installation of solar panels on the USF Marshall Student Center.  


·         Transportation: All USF students, faculty and staff have fare-free access to the bio-diesel fueled Bull Runner shuttle system. The Borrow Our Bikes Green Bike Program allows students to check out bicycles for free.


·         Community: USF students participated in the Solar Decathlon and won a spot to exhibit their “flex house” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.


This year SIERRA used Sustainability tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) information to determine the schools rankings. USF has a Gold STARS rating, which factored into its overall placement.


The “Cool School” nod marks one of the many environmental distinctions USF has won over the past year. Other awards include the Second Nature Climate Leadership Award; Designated Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation; -and a second place showing in the Waste Minimization category in the competition division for 2012 Recyclemania.


The complete ranking, along with stories about the winning schools’ environmental efforts, can be found here.