USF reaches final round of Climate Leadership Awards

Though winning the competition would bring no monetary compensation, USF is hoping online video viewers will name it one of the nations greenest universities.

From a pool of 674 applicants, USF is now one of 20 universities across the nation to move on to the final round of the 2012 Climate Leadership Awards the third annual competition that highlights campus innovations to transition society into a clean, just and sustainable future, according to its website.

Christian Wells, director of the Office of Sustainability, and Christine Brown, director of the Media Innovation Team, created USFs video, Innovating Generation S, for viewers to vote on before April 15.

If we win, we will definitely try to leverage that win by really promoting it and using it as an opportunity to get a lot more sustainability initiatives done on campus and bring a lot more attention to them, Wells said.

One of those projects currently underway asks students to view the campus as an organism and try to study its metabolism, Wells said.

The metabolism is the energy you take in and the materials and things and how you use them and the waste you put out, he said. Were trying to map those flows of energy, water and waste of people on campus and then create a source of information that students can use for research projects in classes.

Wells said he thinks USFs video is the best and will win against the other four universities in the Doctorate-Granting University category because of the way sustainability is approached at USF.

Most of the schools that enter the competition focus just on one initiative or one strategy they pursue, he said. You cant just focus on one thing because sustainability is really about society, economy and the environment, and you really have to integrate all those different aspects.

Olivia Means, a junior majoring in biology, was selected by Wells as one of three students in USFs video because she is part of the Sustainability Scholars Program, which allows her to help in the Botanical Gardens.

Means said it was important to have students in the video because it shows that faculty members are not the only ones who care about the campus. The video touches on communal efforts to make changes at the University, she said, like the $1-per-credit-hour Student Green Energy Fee, which funds student-driven sustainability projects on campus.

As a student, no one wants another fee added on their tuition, but something like (the award), where it shows the school is being recognized for their efforts, it makes (students) happier to give that money knowing that its actually making a difference, Means said.

This is the first time USF was nominated to the final round by the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, but Wells said the Office of Sustainability had considered entering the competition for the past two years. The decision to enter this year was prompted by sustainable improvements to the University, he said.

The main improvement over the past two years, he said, was the Student Green Energy Fee, and others include the opening of the School of Global Sustainability and enhancements to the sustainability curriculum.