USF Leads the State in Sustainability
Tampa campus receives Gold rating from international sustainability organization
TAMPA, Fla. (April 22, 2018) –The University of South Florida Tampa is one of only two universities in the state to receive a Gold rating from STARS, a sustainability performance measurement framework organized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). USF St. Petersburg was awarded a Silver.
These prestigious awards are the latest in a series of formal acknowledgements of a continued university-wide commitment to sustainability across four categories: academics, engagement, operations and planning and administration. Along with this year’s STARS rating, USF was also recently named Tree Campus USA® for the seventh consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation. In 2017, the university was ranked best in the state and among the Top 50 Coolest Schools in North America by the Sierra Club for its efforts in green initiatives and sustainability and featured in the Princeton review’s Guide to 375 Green Colleges: 2017 Edition. In 2016, USF was recognized nationally as a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.
The path toward sustainability began in 2008 when USF President Judy Genshaft signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, thereby promising that USF’s Tampa campus would conduct an annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory and develop a long-term plan to reduce (and eventually eliminate) greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2011, students enrolled at USF Tampa and USF St. Petersburg have contributed $1 per credit hour (or $1.1 million each year) toward the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) to support this commitment.
“Each week, we meet to discuss the ongoing projects we’re working on,” said USF student and SGEF Council Member Robin Rives. “Right now, I’m helping to plan a tree-planting project, which will begin in April of next year.”
Projects funded by USF’s SGEF include Share-a-Bull Bikes, which give students a flexible way to navigate each campus through a system of shared GPS-enabled bicycles; campus-wide hydration stations, which make it easier for students to reuse water bottles and reduce plastic waste; and solar-powered charging stations, which rely on the Florida sun to recharge students’ mobile devices.
“The Student Green Energy Fund at USF is one of the best implemented student success programs in the country,” said Nainan Desai, assistant director for Facilities Management and Campus Sustainability at USF. “Not only does the fund promote sustainability, but it also creates jobs for students and provides them with active training in communications, planning and management.”
In summer of 2017, the SGEF completed its largest project yet: a $1.3 million effort to significantly increase the solar energy production of the Marshall Student Center (MSC). The SGEF Solar Panel Project expanded upon the pre-existing system by adding 1,075 solar panels to the third- and fourth-level roofs of the MSC. The additional panels generate 525,000 kWh each year, the equivalent of the annual energy usage of 39 homes.