USF is on its way to a more sustainable future.
President Judy Genshaft added the University to a coalition of 515 colleges and universities who’ve made the battle against global warming a priority by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment at the Getting Green by Going Green Expo at the Sun Dome on Saturday.
“It makes perfect sense for institutions of higher learning to help lead the way in addressing environmental problems, especially global warming,” Genshaft said in a press release.
After signing the commitment, participating universities are held responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on their campuses and creating a more stable climate. The commitment forces schools to establish policies and target dates for their goals. An implementation guide is given to each school, outlining their obligations to help expedite the process.
“I challenge students and faculty to increase sustainability in the curriculum … and become more sustain-a-Bull,” Genshaft said at the Expo.
Within the first year, a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions from the campus will be created, and after two years, sustainability education will be incorporated into the curriculum. Research on efficient practices to achieve climate neutrality – or implementation of practices that would make up for the amount of carbon dioxide emitted – will also expand.
The commitment also demands that all new campus construction be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standard or equivalent, according to presidentsclimatecommitment.org. The University must meet the requirements for site development, water savings, energy efficiency material selection and indoor environmental quality to receive the certification, according to usgbc.org.
Sharon Hanna-West, Exide distinguished lecturer of Ethics and Sustainability at the USF College of Business, and a coordinator for the Going Green event, said the Expo gained increased support from the University’s partners in the Tampa Bay community.
“Sustainability can unite us all,” Hanna-West said.
The signing was the highlight of the Expo, which included a series of green events, including panel discussions, films and workshops on topics from energy conservation to green construction.
Noteworthy speakers included Roberta Fernandez of Planet Partnership, who has worked alongside climate change activist Al Gore.
“We don’t live in this little box. We are part of a global community,” Fernandez said. “If we break down the practices for people, becoming green becomes less scary.”
Michael Lokey, of Lokey Trucks and Isuzu of Tampa Bay, drew a crowd as well with his displays of eco-friendly cars, including a Hummer that runs on bio-diesel, and a workshop on bio-fuel creation.
Although the signing of the commitment is the boldest step USF has taken to be recognized as a forerunner in sustainable thinking, students have already been thinking green.
Emerging Green Builders, a USF student group affiliated with the U.S. Green Building Council, is committed to informing the public about green infrastructure. A chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World and Engineers without Borders also exists on campus. Both groups have projects in the works.
Courses related to sustainability are also available on campus, including one taught jointly by Hanna-West and Bob Brinkman, geography department chair.
Launching a sustainability campaign is the first of many steps USF plans on taking to create a healthy and stable atmosphere for students and faculty. USF’s participation in the past week’s green events prove the commitment to change, Genshaft said.
As she said after the signing, there’s “No mistake that we are ‘green’ and gold.”