USF gives sustainability effort the green light

USF’s research buildings use the most energy, according to the Office of Sustainability, and the University may add even more to increase its revenue by promoting grants and contracts for research, said Christian Wells, director of the Office of Sustainability.

But the University wants to make sure it maintains energy sustainability.

“(Adding more buildings) would mean more greenhouse emissions,” Wells said. “I would suspect that most of our efforts in the short term would be to improve the efficiency of our current research buildings so we could combat this problem.”

The Office of Sustainability plans to monitor the consumption of energy at USF by placing energy meters in all campus buildings, he said.

USF also completed the Green Lights program – also called Energy Star, which included installing high-efficiency lights around campus to help decrease energy consumption.

All new construction is required to follow this standard, Wells said.

USF’s Climate Change Action Plan, an effort to reduce the University’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, will be submitted to President Judy Genshaft on May 15.

The plan was initiated in spring 2008 by the American College and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment, a contract signed by Genshaft. It required the University to do an inventory on greenhouse gases like carbon emissions.

Because USF is widely known as a commuter campus, a key part of the plan is to encourage the use of mass transit, Wells said.

USF and HARTLINE offer free bus services to USF students and only charge 25 cents for faculty and staff. All of USF’s vehicles, including Bull Runners are fueled by biodiesel – an oil collected from the dining halls.

To date, more than 1 million students, faculty and staff have utilized the campus Bull Runner bus service, Wells said.

“It is important to know that for a large, urban campus, USF is a lot greener than one might think,” he said. “Many policies were implemented by other departments that we weren’t aware of before have now become advertised.”

Richard Pollenz, associate dean of the Graduate School, said it is imperative to teach students about the impact people’s actions have on the environment, which is part of the reason why the School of Global Sustainability was established.

“It is not housed in a particular college, which would provide for the interdisciplinary studies of students,” Pollenz said. “One of the University’s strategic goals is to promote interdisciplinary inquiry, and this is a response to help promote that goal.”