USF among top green colleges

At USF, green is more than just a school color.

Of the many colleges and universities across the country, USF was acknowledged by The Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges as one of the top environmentally-friendly institutions in the country.

The Princeton Review, a publication that provides information for students entering and enrolled in college, chose schools based on “Green Rating” scores the schools received in a previous publication from summer 2009. The rating is a numerical score from 60-99 based on several data points, including a commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.

USF was one of six Florida schools to be recognized, including Eckerd College, Stetson College, University of Miami, University of Florida and the University of Central Florida – something that did not surprise Director of the USF Office of Sustainability Christian Wells.

“I’m pleased, but I expected it,” he said. “I’m especially pleased that this recognition is based on the 2008-2009 survey data, which is before the Office of Sustainability came on board. It just proves that USF was green long before we established anything formal.”

According to a release, The Princeton Review began collaborating with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2008 to format the “Green Rating” questions to include more environmentally-conscious aspects of the schools.

Institutions were ranked on a percentage scale in 2009, with only 268 of the 697 schools evaluated scoring in the 80th percentile, according to a release. Once schools were given a numerical score, no rankings were published.

Since its conception in fall 2009, the Office of Sustainability has spearheaded the University’s programs, including support mentors for students, academic fellowships, service learning scholarships and teaching grants.

USF also hosted the Campus and Community Sustainability Conference and the Going Green Tampa Bay Expo in 2009, as well as implemented a student-supported “Green Fee” that allocates 75 cents per credit hour to the purchase of renewable energy.

However, Wells said the most significant stride USF has taken toward sustainability is launching the nation’s first School of Global Sustainability, which aims to prepare students for “green collar” jobs and find solutions to protect the world’s environment and limited resources.

The first degree program to be offered by the school is a master of arts in global sustainability, which will be an integration of various environmental disciplines.

“Currently, it will offer an online degree, so it will be available to people all over the world,” Wells said.

Included in The Princeton Review report was a “2010 Green Rating Honor Roll,” which gave special recognition to schools that received the highest possible rating score of 99. There were 15 schools that made it to the honor roll, none of which are in Florida.

However, Wells said that with USF’s annual evaluation coming at the end of the school year that will all change.

“When that guide comes out again,” he said, “we’re going to be at the top of the list.”