USF Takes Next Step in Environmental Commitment

Tampa, Fla. (July 9, 2008) —  Since University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft signed USF onto The American College & University Presidents Climate Committee (ACUPCC) April 12, in keeping with the step-wise sojourn toward a greener university, community and world, USF has established a Campus Sustainability Steering Committee comprising 30 faculty, staff, student, alumni and community members.

"Fourteen subcommittees are in the process of being created,” said Robert Brinkman, USF ACUPCC steering committee co-chair and chair of the Department of Geography. "These committees will look into distinct issues, such as waste recycling, food, landscaping, water and energy. The president's climate change commitment has provided us with an opportunity to bring people together into one team and pursue joint efforts."

According to Steering Committee Co-chair Sharon Hanna-West, the committees are "taking shape and beginning to meet on their various tasks." She notes that the plan to make the campus "climate neutral" is like trying to make a city climate neutral. Yet, there is no "blueprint" to do this because each institution is unique.

"While much can be learned from others and each institution adds to the knowledge pool, we are going to lead by example and foster collaborations within USF that reach outward into community partnerships," said Hanna-West.

In addition to initiating the 30-member steering committee, USF’s new Sustainability Newsletter and Web site(www.usf.edu/sustainability) report that in keeping with the ACUPCC commitment, several tangible short-term goals have been set to help reduce greenhouse gasses: purchasing ENERGY STAR-certified products in all areas in which such ratings exist, off-setting greenhouse gas emissions caused by USF-paid air travel, promoting public transportation, supporting eco-friendly shareholder proposals at companies with USF investments, and adopting at least three waste-reduction measures.

The ACUPCC commitment requires both short-term and long-term actions and prescribes both implementation guidelines and institute deadlines for actions to be completed. Signatories to the ACUPCC are required to complete a long-term plan for achieving their goals and develop ways of tracking progress.

Daniel Yeh, committee member for education and research related to green buildings, energy and water, and assistant professor in the College of Engineering's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said that recycling, water conservation and reuse and energy conservation are immediate areas for potential improvements. Yeh also cited the potential to make several USF buildings more energy efficient through upgrading their mechanical systems.

According to Linda Whiteford, associate vice president for academic affairs and strategic initiatives, the Sustainability Newsletter will report on not only the progress of the Campus Sustainability Steering Committee and its activities, but a wide range of USF activities that promote a more sustainable future.
           
The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  It is one of Florida's top three research universities.  USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine.  The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland.  USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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