USF forms climate steering committee

07/09/08 Seán Kinane
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In April, The University of South Florida joined the American College & University Presidents Climate Committee (ACUPCC), a group focused on reducing the impact that member schools have on the global climate. USF has recently established a Campus Sustainability Steering Committee to help meet ACUPCC goals.

Sharon Hanna-West is a lecturer on ethics and sustainability in USF’s Department of Management. She is a member of the sustainable steering committee at USF and co-chair of the climate committee.

Hanna-West said part of the ACUPCC process is to implement a plan for the university to become climate neutral; that includes an audit of USF’s greenhouse gas emissions, a draft report will be completed by December. The university has formed 14 sustainability subcommittees, including transportation and curriculum, Hanna-West said.

The chair of USF’s Department of Geography, Bob Brinkmann, is the other co-chair of USF’s sustainability committee. Brinkmann discussed what is involved in making an inventory of the university’s climate footprint.

Sharon Hanna-West said it will be an “uphill climb” for the campus to become climate neutral. Generating energy from sources like solar that do not emit greenhouse gasses will only be part of the solution.

David Starman is a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering at USF and is interested in making the university more environmentally sustainable.

WMNF asked Starman how much input students should have on the sustainability committees. “The more the merrier, really.”

In 2005, USF students led a substantial campaign to make the new student center a LEED-certified green building. Costing tens of millions of dollars, it is one of the largest construction projects at the university. Those efforts were vigorously opposed by some members of the university’s administration and ultimately failed.

But geology professor Bob Brinkmann said the ACUPCC goals are still within reach. Brinkmann said there are plenty of ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on campus. One way is mass transit, including the possibility of a future lightrail link between USF and downtown Tampa.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

USF sustainability initiatives

Bob Brinkmann

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