USF Ranks in Top 10 “Cool Schools” for Campus Sustainability

                                                                                                                                                                               Photo by Aimee Blodgett | USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2014) - The University of South Florida has ascended the ranks of Sierra magazine’s annual “Cool Schools” list to land for the first time in the top 10 catalog of America’s greenest colleges.

Sierra magazine ranks American colleges and universities according to their environmental practices, green initiatives, and the caliber of sustainability-focused education. This year, USF ranked No. 7 out of the 173 colleges that participated in the cool schools ranking nationally. USF is the only university in Florida that has made it to the top 10 list.

The “Cool Schools” ranking is one of many sustainability accolades bestowed upon USF in recent months. In April, USF was listed as one of only 22 schools to earn the Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Honor Roll. Earlier this year, AASHE reaffirmed USF’s Gold STARS rating, originally awarded in 2011. Additionally, for the third year in a row, the National Arbor Day Foundation has recognized USF as a Tree Campus USA.

“Ranking in the top ten of Sierra Club’s ‘Cool Schools’ list is something USF has been working towards for years,” said Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael, Director of USF’s Office of Sustainability. “The ranking is indicative of the deep commitment of the University administration and the whole USF community to sustainability.”

The Office of Sustainability, housed within the Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS), leads sustainability efforts across the campus and the local community.

Among the most recognizable achievements in green efforts on campus include harvesting solar power, installing new water bottle filling stations throughout campus, and constructing LEED certified buildings. USF students have reiterated their support to campus sustainability effort by voting for the renewal of a Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) that will help steer USF toward a carbon-free campus.

“We hope that our upcoming SGEF projects – like the campus wide bike share program, the smart parking guidance system, biodiesel production and building monitoring system – will help propel USF to even greater heights,” said Dr. Ghebremichael. “The ultimate goal is to become the greenest university in the nation.”

USF was lauded for several measures: USF's eco-assets include America's first 20,000-watt solar charging station for electric vehicles, The Clean Energy Research Center, where students work on fuel-cell and solar technologies, and the Power Center for Utility Explorations, which builds smart grids.

Also, campus buildings are designed to prevent water waste, and students voluntarily pay a fee that goes toward conservation initiatives. The school's 24-year-old recycling program has diverted more than 48 tons of aluminum and 9,700 tons of paper from local landfills.