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Green group grows at USF

While there’s nothing easy about building green, a new student group aims to offer a fresh perspective on sustainable construction.

Emerging Green Builders (EGB), an interdisciplinary student group formed this semester, plans to further the USF community’s conversation about green construction and galvanize student support for eco-friendly campus development.

On the group’s agenda are plans to create student awareness with field trips to green buildings and guest speakers, said Daniel Yeh, chief faculty adviser and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“We hope to serve as a catalyst for dialogue on sustainable development and design,” Yeh said. “We want to be the main contact for people who are interested in or have questions about sustainability.”

The group was born out of concerns that USF lagged behind other campuses in sustainable development, said EGB co-chair Jack Bevilacqua.

To date, USF has no green-building initiatives, while the University of Florida has eight green buildings in construction, Florida State University has a Sustainable Campus Committee and the University of Central Florida is pushing for a student fee to fund sustainable development on campus.

Even those state universities at the forefront of green building lag far behind colleges leading the way in sustainable construction. Harvard University offers courses on green buildings and has a Green Campus Loan Fund that offers money for high performance campus designs. York University in Toronto houses green-building benchmarks such as sustainable residence halls and a Computer Science and Engineering Building honored by World Architecture as the most sustainable building of 2002.

“I got involved with the U.S. Green Building Council and worked on the newsletter and attended functions,” said Bevilacqua. “I realized that USF was not involved as many other college campuses were. I started talking to different departments and soon there was a core group interested in promoting the cause.”

The group consists of a core of faculty advisers and four student co-chairs – business management graduate student Bevilacqua, architectural graduate student Chris Cox, environmental science and policy graduate student Trey McDonald, and Caryssa Joustra, a senior and civil and environmental engineering major.

“EGB focuses on multiple concentrations because it takes more than just one discipline to achieve sustainable development,” said Shannon Bassett, faculty adviser and assistant professor of architecture and urban design.

To advance awareness, EGB wants to focus on the campus as well as the community. Possible plans include increasing recycling on campus and creating a community project to make low-income housing greener, said EGB co-chair McDonald.

On Oct. 11, EGB will host its first event. The panel discussion, “A Conversation on Green Building,” will gather members of the community to speak about the role of green buildings and how to implement sustainable design at USF and in the Tampa Bay area. The event will also serve to promote the group’s membership.

“The more knowledge students have, the more powerful they become,” said Cox. “EGB is here to supply that knowledge. We want students to know that they can help build a sustainable campus because they have the power to influence decisions at USF.”

Jaclyn DeVore can be reached at (813) 974-2699 or