There is a lot happening on college campuses across Florida. From inter-disciplinary minors to four-year degrees to environmental MBAs, there is something for almost everyone. And that doesn’t even count the “green” student groups and the pledges of the university presidents to green their campuses.
Sustainable Florida and the Sustainable UF hosted a gathering of college and university representatives who are guiding their respective campus sustainability efforts. This was the first of an ongoing effort to link campus efforts on public and private institutions across Florida. The Educational Alliance for a Sustainable Florida will serve as a hub of post-secondary sustainability efforts enabling professionals to share best practices, tackle challenges and expand their efforts through facilities, curricula and campus and student engagement activities.
Educational Alliance for Sustainable Florida
With thousands graduating from business and management programs in Florida’s colleges and universities, the Educational Alliance for Sustainable Florida (EASF) was launched. The EASF project is based on the belief that Florida’s sustainability will be strongly influenced by the quality of these graduates.
The EASF will result in a healthier economic and environmental future for Florida through these efforts to work with Florida’s business and management programs to create an open dialogue with business leaders.
Sustainable Florida encourages schools to incorporate the concepts of sustainable development in their programs and increase the emphasis on sustainability in MBA curricula and associated activities.
The EASF would love to catch up with Florida’s colleges and universities. Let us know what you have been doing in the world of sustainability. Click here to fill out the online form and keep us updated on your efforts.
The commitment by Florida’s business schools to include sustainability teaching and concepts, as part of the graduate management training is key to achieving the projects intended goals:
• Support the efforts of participating universities to integrate sustainability into their curriculum as they deem appropriate;
• Increase the number of students graduating with practical experience and knowledge in the integration of sustainability into business and management practices;
• Increase recognition among Florida’s businesses that students with practical experience and knowledge in the integration of sustainability into business and management practices have a competitive advantage over those without it.
• Built a strong alliance of higher education professionals embracing and implementing sustainability concepts in MBA classrooms
• Transformed eight award-winning best sustainability practices into case studies for use in the classroom
• Provided a case writing workshop to enhance instructor skills and improve quality of cases published. Click for Sustainability Case Studies.
Campus Sustainability Efforts
State of Florida Public Universities:
Florida Atlantic University – Campus Sustainability
Florida Gulf Coast University – Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education
Florida International University – Sustainability Office
Florida State University – Sustainable Campus
University of Florida – Sustainable UF
Other Colleges and Universities:
St. Thomas University – Environmental Compliance, Emergency Management and Risk Management
Stetson University – Environmental Responsibility Council
The following are examples of sustainability reports from multiple colleges and universities across the state.
By Phuong Nguyen Cotey
of the Collins Center Staff
GAINESVILLE, FL (Jan. 25) — At the University of Florida, students have more vegetarian options in the dining halls on “Meatless Mondays” so that they can reduce their carbon footprint.
At the University of South Florida, trayless dining saves almost 33,000 gallons of water a year.
And at the University of Central Florida, the campus composts more than 2,900 pounds of coffee each semester.
Colleges and universities across Florida are carrying out more environmentally conscious practices, their sustainability leaders shared Tuesday, sparking changes in food trends that both reduce waste and support local growers.
These leaders in sustainability from about 30 campuses across the state gathered at the University of Florida in the first of several planned roundtables to exchange ideas for sustainability and offer advice. The group makes up the Educational Alliance for Sustainable Florida, a program of the Collins Center for Public Policy.
The first day of the two-day session touched on sustainability in food service, as well as measuring success.
Dana Falstad, a sustainability expert for food service giant Aramark, which has accounts with a large number of colleges and universities, shared the work Aramark is doing to carry out environmental initiatives.
Falstad conducts waste audits on higher education campuses to see where they can cut excess and also supports colleges in their efforts to purchase from local growers and farmers.
Currently, 90 percent of food produce across the country travels 1,500 miles before it is sold, she said. Meanwhile, farmers throughout this agriculturally rich state toil away, just miles from college dining halls. And every second in the United States, more than 3,000 tons of edible food is thrown away while many go hungry.
At the University of Florida, which has a strong sustainability office, the campus has enacted a number of changes. They include:
• A mandate to always buy locally grown produce if it is within 10 percent of the national average purchase price.
• Planning dining hall menus based on what is in season.
• Using cage-free eggs and locally sourced milk without artificial hormones
• Buying grass-fed meats and dairy products and
• Converting waste cooking oil into biodiesel.
In addition, campus submarine sandwich shops that cut off the ends of their bread loaves now set the excess bread aside so that it can be turned into croutons. And the tops of tomatoes that were normally discarded are now cut precisely to discard the stem and then chopped up for salsa.
“What is typically considered waste is now something that we can reuse,” Falstad said.
The University of Florida is not alone. At the University of South Florida, thawing cabinets in dining hall kitchens save 9,600 gallons of water a year. The school also gives discounts for using reusable cups.
And at Florida International University, workers take part in vermicomposting, which uses earthworms to turn organic waste into high quality compost. Each day, the school dining halls fill two-to-three 55-gallon barrels of food waste a day. The school also donates left-over food to the Miami Rescue Mission.
At Florida State, unserved dining hall food goes to Second Harvest and students are served hormone- and antibiotic-free milk.
Some of these efforts, while intensely rewarding, were challenging to bring to fruition, said Anna Prizzia, director of the Office of Sustainability at UF. For instance, some farmers don’t know how to go about selling food to universities.
Prizzia held meetings with farmers around the state and introduced them to extension agents to help them navigate the road they must take to become a grower for a university.
“It was mildly successful,” she said. “We still have a long way to go.”
There are issues like insurance and food safety, which keep some campuses from serving food from their own campus farms. So they find other ways to still make an impact.
At UF, they started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program), which provides weekly bushels of produce from four local farms to students and staff who pay into the program. More than 150 people take part, she said.
Cindy Shea, the sustainability director from the University of North Carolina who attended the roundtable as a speaker, said faculty and staff at her school tend to a robust garden on campus. The bounty is given away to the lowest-paid campus staffers. They include housekeeping staff and maintenance crews, who collect a basket of food each week.
“Times are tough with no salary or pay increases,” Shea said. “They tell us that their paycheck does not stretch very far and they normally wouldn’t be able to afford it. It’s tremendously satisfying.”
The exchange of ideas concludes Wednesday with discussions on climate change strategies and funding for sustainability programs.