USFSP Featured in Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges

(Oct. 5, 2017) – The University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) made The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 375 Green Colleges, 2017.” The publication highlights colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on academic offerings and career preparation for students.

SGEF for student green campaignThe Princeton Review selected its list based on “Green Rating” scores for 629 colleges using data from a 2016-17 survey of school administrators. The survey asked schools to report on their sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment, such as having a sustainability committee and percentage of food budget spent on local/organic food. Schools with Green Rating scores of 80-99 qualified for the guide. USFSP received a score of 95.

“It is quite an honor to be selected for this distinguished publication,” said Interim Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock. “This recognition shows our commitment to sustainability and improving our natural environment, one of the core values of USF St. Petersburg.”

According to Princeton Review’s 2017 College Hopes & Worries Survey of more than 10,000 teens and parents, 64 percent said knowing a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college.

Spearheaded by an active student body and faculty, the USFSP community is investing in solar panels and energy efficient buildings, leading innovative research in sustainability and incorporating environmental stewardship into many planning decisions on campus. USFSP’s Climate Action Plan sets out to reduce the university’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2035 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Students cleaning beachThe university took a major step in its sustainability efforts nearly two years ago by hiring a full-time sustainability planner to ensure environmentally-friendly practices are used in operations, and to facilitate partnerships with the local community on projects such as solar panels and greenhouses on campus.

“We saw the need to have a position that coordinates sustainability efforts between faculty, students and staff and to advise the University on projects that not only improve our energy usage but develop skills and practices that would enhance students’ experience here,” said Joseph Trubacz, Regional Vice Chancellor of Administrative and Financial Services.

Students play a lead role in sustainability efforts. The Student Green Energy Fund is financed through a $1 fee per credit hour voted on by students every three years. Students working with the Green Energy Fund consider projects that reduce energy costs through conservation and the use of renewable energy to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Energy and Resource Conservation Committee (CERCC) works with
USFSP Administration and Student Government to recommend investments that will most effectively reduce the university’s carbon footprint while improving facilities.

“We rely on our students to brainstorm projects and initiatives for the university to pursue to enhance sustainability, and then to think through the mechanics of how to take those ideas and make them operational,” said Sustainability Planner Brian Pullen.

“We came to a place of higher education to learn and be challenged and being sustainable can be a significant change in lifestyle,” said USFSP student Byron Baugh, Chair of the Clean Energy and Resource Conservation Committee. “Ours and other sustainable/environmental student groups on campus seek to engage the greater student body and enlist them in being part of this movement to be more green.”

Pullen said campus sustainability has taken great strides this past year, but even more is to come. Upcoming projects include:

  • A solar carport – an overhead canopy to cover parking areas – will be unveiled in the parking lot just north of new biology and chemistry labs. The 40kw solar array will power about 15 percent of the building;
  • An energy management system placed on several buildings, including residence halls, will allow for monitoring of energy usage in real time to indicate where efficiencies can be made; and
  • Installation of a 120kw solar array on the roof of a yet-to-be determined campus building could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 175 tons per year, equivalent to saving nearly 187,000 pounds of coal from being burned each year.

In addition to the distinction by The Princeton Review, USFSP was awarded a Silver Star rating this past summer by the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and moved up 66 spots in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” sustainability rankings to 112 out of 227.

This is the eighth annual Princeton Review’s “Guide to 375 Green Colleges.” The guide offers helpful information for students about green majors and careers and the benefits of choosing a green college. College profiles include everything from the school’s use of renewable energy and recycling and conservation programs to the availability of environmental studies and career guidance for green jobs.

For more information about USFSP sustainability, visit: usfsp.edu/sustainability.