USF has continually sought to improve upon sustainable goals and practices, which have been described in the USF Tampa Campus Master Plan and its continuing updates since 1995. The commitment to sustainability extends to the off-campus community as well. In order to provide continued enrollment growth, the Campus Master Plan embraced Smart Growth, a major concept in sustainability. The plan promoted using infill development, increased density, and parking lots as development sites in order to reduce sprawl, traffic, utility extensions, off-campus light pollution, and minimize increases in impervious areas while preserving undeveloped land. In addition, a 125-acre cross-campus greenway was created to protect wildlife, link habitat islands, provide for passive recreation, and aggregate storm water ponds.
In the first 10 years of the 1995 plan, the university planted over 2,000 trees. To reduce off campus traffic congestion, the university implemented a free off-campus shuttle system (powered by biofuel technology), negotiated free regional transit use for students, and substantially increased the quantity of on-campus residence halls. The university has consistently worked to construct bike lanes and sidewalks to improve on/off campus pedestrian and bicycle access/safety. USF has provided a community recycling site since 1990, available to everyone on the campus perimeter, and increased the number of containers in campus buildings. Energy conservation has also been a major priority since the early 1980s, from replacement of light bulbs to major central plant chillers. Over the past 10 years, USF saved approximately $10 million with the Greenlights replacement program and, despite continued growth in high energy demand research facilities, electrical consumption has been reduced by approximately 3% in the past six years.
More recently, USF anticipates several buildings to be LEED certified: Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, Tampa Campus (under construction); Interdisciplinary Science, Tampa Campus (under construction); Science & Technology Building, St. Petersburg Campus (under construction); USF Polytechnic Phase I, Lakeland Campus (in design); and Wellness and Nutrition Center, Tampa Campus (in design).
In 2006, Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox hired Dr. Linda Whiteford, Professor of Anthropology, as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, identifying campus and community sustainability as one of the key target areas for development and investment. In 2007, Dr. Whiteford convened a Sustainability Initiative Steering Committee consisting of 30 faculty, staff, and students from across the university. The committee was integral to working with President Judy Genshaft to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which took place during the Going Green Tampa Bay Expo in April, 2008. The Office of Sustainability was subsequently created by Provost Wilcox in July, 2009 to manage USFs climate impact assessment and reporting, as well as to serve as the single point of contact for sustainability programs and activities for the USF system. Dr. Christian Wells was hired as the inaugural Director of the Office of Sustainability on August 6, 2009.
Institutional Gains…For A Cleaner, Greener USF
* Initiated the USF Office of Sustainability with a dynamic new website serving as the single point of contact for sustainability activities at the university
* Developed a distinguished Advisory Council and university-wide Technical Advisory Board for the Office of Sustainability
* Established a ‘Green Fund’ (foundation account) with a gift from the TECO Energy Foundation to develop a sustainable fiscal base for the Office of Sustainability; a major fundraising campaign and event is planned for March 2010
* Initiated several new programs to engage campus stakeholders, including a Sustainability Scholars program for undergraduates (co-funded with the Office of Undergraduate Research), a Sustainability Fellows program for graduate students (co-funded with the Graduate School), a Sustainability Mentors program to recognize the contributions of faculty and staff, and a Sustainability Teaching Grants program to enhance USF’s sustainability curriculum (co-funded by the Graduate School)
* Maintained USF’s compliance with the ACUPCC by reporting a comprehensive GHG inventory
* Currently working with the Sustainability Steering Committee and nearly 50 students, faculty, and staff to compile a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for USF and to prepare proposals for external funding to create a Decision Center for University Sustainability
* Created a university wide policy on campus and community sustainability to implement the recommendations outlined in the CAP
* Collaborated closely with the academic colleges and other units, Facilities Planning, Physical Plant, campus stakeholder groups (faculty, staff, and students), and community partners on numerous initiatives and activities in sustainability as outlined in the CAP, including: ConservaBull (Emerging Green Builders), Refill-a-Bull (Students In Free Enterprise), and the Water-for-Miches project (with Engineers without Borders), among others
* Joined ASU, UCLA, Penn State, and other select universities as a Charter Participant of the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System - a voluntary, self-reporting framework for gauging progress toward sustainability for universities
* Provided organizational and thought leadership for the highly successful (ca. 4,000 attendees) 4th Annual Campus and Community Sustainability Conference and Going Green Tampa Bay Expo, which took place at the Marshall Center in October 2009
* Drafting MOUs with community partners to create actionable links between the Office of Sustainability and Tampa’s educational, nonprofit, and business communities