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Professor encourages energy efficiency on campus

It may be a small part of the world, but the University should take advantage of its resources in an effort to relieve global climate change, USF Environmental and Occupational Health professor Thomas Crisman said.

Crisman, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn and former senators John Warner and Bob Graham spoke Monday at a pew project forum on national security, energy and climate in the C.W. Bill Young Hall.

The forum was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organization that provides grants to improve public policy, and focused on how global climate change could affect our national security.

Last year, USF President Judy Genshaft signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment as part of a campaign to improve climate change research and education.

Crisman shared his thoughts on how USF matches up to other state universities in the effort against global climate change.

The Oracle:
How does USF’s green-related research compare in terms of funding with other Florida schools?
Crisman: I think universities like USF need to figure out the problems and then form coalitions to solve them with other schools. Our engineering program is relatively small compared to the University of Florida. However, we need to look at our resources and what makes us different as a university.

What opportunities do you see for USF to expand its research?
C: One of our real gifts here is our College of Public Health. This is an excellent program … they’re very receptive to becoming a link between the environment and public health.

We also have a strong military presence and we have the ability to reach out to them and become partners. That’s a real advantage for us … We have a lot of things that UF doesn’t have, so we have to capitalize on what we can contribute to (climate change).

We don’t compete with UF. We need to figure out ways that we can work with them.

O: When and how do you predict the University will begin the necessary modifications to become a “green” institution?
C: We aren’t getting any additional monies until the economy picks up, and we make up the deficit we have now, so my guess would be about five years. If we could just hold on without further cuts, we’re going to be in good shape.

O: So, climate research in this area will have to wait another five years?
C: You’re assuming that to be environmentally friendly you have to spend money – I don’t think so. If you’re more efficient in your energy use, the University is saving money.

So I think it’s up to the students to work with the administration to show them how we can save money and do our job better by being a responsibly run organization. That doesn’t necessarily take additional funds.

O: So, what can students do on campus that is just as effective as major research efforts like conserving water and turning off lights?
C: There are things we all can do. Do you recycle every can? If everyone did that and talked to their friends, then the issue could be downsized. There are a number of steps that you can do as a campus citizen. You can make a huge impact that doesn’t cost anything.

Do you think other countries are going to take part in this initiative?
C: No, not unless they can find a way to make money off of it. Our students now have the task of finding ways to convince other countries, as well as our own, that they can make money if they implement green ideas.