USF named one of nation's greenest universities

By RaeChelle Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The University of South Florida celebrated Earth Day with top green honors.

The school is one of only 22 colleges to earn a spot on the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll.

Charging stations, solar panels, and water bottle filling portals are just some of the visible ways USF has gone green. It is an effort that is just as important to the university as it is to students like Alexia Arnold.

"I definitely think that's important,” said Arnold. “Being sustainable and being responsible with the environment that we have."

USF paved the way with the first College of Global Sustainability in the United States. It offers programs in water, sustainable tourism, and sustainable energy. The green degrees are housed in the most efficient building possible.

"In this particular building we have, for example, a rainwater harvesting system that we use to flush our toilets," said Kebreab Ghebremichael, who is the director of the Office of Sustainability. "And the materials that we put in here are either recycled or efficient.”

The university has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2070. Work is already underway to upgrade older buildings like the Sun Dome to meet high environmental standards.

"All of these initiatives really are working towards changing the mindset and make them aware and actively engage in sustainable practices,” said Ghebremichael.

It appears to be working. Students have twice voted to pay fees totaling more than $1 million a year to continue green efforts on campus.

Those efforts reach beyond the university. For the last four years, the Office of Sustainability has also been responsible for organizing Earth Day Tampa Bay.