Tag Archive | "environment"

U.S. Green Building Council seeks to create a green campus

By Alisa Festagallo

University of West Florida students have started a chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council in hopes of creating a more environmentally friendly campus for students, faculty and staff.

Nye Grant, visiting assistant professor of the department of Applied Science, Technology and Administration is the sponsor of USGBC and brought the idea to the students. All the students were interested in making a better impact on the environment, so they started the club this semester.

Tyler Clukey, a junior construction engineering major serves as the president of the chapter. Clukey said he has big plans for this club and the members involved, like their first project, the Earthship.

The Earthship is going to be a structure composed of compacted dirt and used tires that can be used as a seating area right outside of the science and engineering building for students and faculty to hang out, study, and take a break from class.

”The Earthship provides a more laid back environment that’s not too uptight and takes your mind off of just school, school, school,” Clukey said.

There is a United States Green Building Council in Pensacola that was established in 2006 and extends from Escambia County to Bay County. Members of the USGBC at UWF have already attended one of their meetings and plan on collaborating with them throughout the year.

Besides their first project they will be meeting with the Student Government Association in order to get funding needed for their projects and their sponsor will be meeting with the Dean of the college and Associate Dean in order to get their Earthship project approved.

”We are trying to not just talk about clean sustainability but actually take action and start building structures safe for the environment,” Hanson said.

They have a base amount of students but are hoping to recruit more members by talking to people in and outside of their classes so they can find people that aren’t just specific to the construction engineering program.

For more information on the organization, you can contact Justine Hanson or Tyler Clukey.

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Wetlands top topic of West Florida Environmental Symposium

By Antonio Jones

Students, concerned citizens and staff came together to discuss the wetlands at West Florida Environmental Symposium.

Students, concerned citizens and staff came together to discuss the wetlands at West Florida Environmental Symposium.

Plans to restore natural resources, wetlands of Gulf Coast States were discussed at the West Florida Environmental Symposium at the University of West Florida.

The symposium was held on Wednesday, Oct. 2, in the UWF conference center. Students, concerned citizens, staff and others came together to highlight issues and successes that will lead to a better Panhandle environment.

“It started off as a cooperative agreement between the Western Regional Planning Council and the Bay Area Resource Council, and community partners,” said Matthew Schwartz, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at UWF. “In recent years the University of West Florida has been brought in as a partner because of ongoing research coordination that we do with some of these partners and shared expertise.”

Some of the key topics discussed at the symposium were invasive plants, water issues, impacts of different animal species, animal protection and habitat restoration.

“I like these kinds of symposiums that have a wide range of topics instead of just focusing really on one thing,” said Madison Walker, intern for the National Wildlife Federation.  “I think it’s good for everyone to get a more encompassing view of everything.”

The symposium looks at the environment as a whole. It was formed to try to educate the public and make them aware of the local issue

“I was involved today because, as an environmental specialist, I really take an interest in environmental issues, especially ones that are directly related to me and my community,” said James Brough of the Department of Health in Escambia County.  “So, I just wanted to make sure I was well informed on the issues that were being presented.”


Brough said, it is imperative that everyone is up to date about the environmental issues that are happening in the local area, and if people don’t pay attention to them there won’t be a way to fix them.

“The environment is a big part of this area; it’s really what drives our tourism,” said Mike Reistad, of the WFRPC and organizer of the event . “People don’t want to come to a dirty beach, they don’t want to come to a dirty environment, they want something nice, and we really have a good environment for them to start with and we just want to make it better.”

This year’s event brought keynote speaker Laura Bowie, the director of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. The alliance is cooperation between the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Their goal is to use increasing regional association to better the economic health of the Gulf.

Schwartz said she is a coordinator for various research universities on the Gulf, and that the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act or RESTORE Act as been one of the focuses of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.

The RESTORE Act is a bill to restore ecosystems, beaches, wildlife habitats, create jobs, and help the economic health of communities affected by things like oil spills and other purposes.

Reistad said if people would like to get involved they can visit www.wfrpc.org, and find the link to the Bay Area Resource Council.

“They can start attending meetings, and they can get a feel of what is going on in the environment as well as joining in,” Reistad said. “We are always looking for public involvement and just a concerned community.”

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Green tips for spring break

Pensacola Beach is a major hot spot all year-round for tourists and locals alike. As spring break begins, the beaches of Pensacola will surely be visited by swarms of college students on spring break. (Photo by Katya Ivanov)

In the upcoming weeks, college students from all over the country will come to relish, revel and relax their spring semester troubles away on the sunny, sandy beaches of Florida’s 825 miles of coastline.

The influx of tourists during this season means an increase in the amount of pollution seen across beaches statewide — so what can the average spring breaker do to decrease their environmental impact?

“The answers can range from spending time volunteering for an environmental non-profit,” said Enid Sisskin, host of the WUWF “EcoMinute” and faculty member of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences, “to staying home with the lights out,” she said, joking.

“Spring break can be green by following the usual practices of being green — reduce driving, carpool, properly inflate your car tires, keep it well maintained, chain trips, etc.,” she said. “If you’re shopping, bring your own bag. Don’t buy or use bottled water. Keep your own stainless steel bottle available.”

Simple steps like these significantly decrease the impact beach-goers make on the environment by eliminating excess waste products that could possibly end up buried in the sand or washed out to sea, Cherie Graves of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection wrote for Examiner.com.

Along those same lines, beach-goers should try to keep all lunches waste-free and use reusable bagging for all towels, sunscreen and other products. Remember before leaving the beach to shower off all excess sand.

Florida needs its sand. Your car does not.

“Keep litter off the beach,” Graves wrote. “If you brought supplies in plastic bags, be sure to anchor them. Almost 95,000 plastic bags were removed from Florida’s beaches in 2010. Plastic bags can escape on a breeze and end up in the gulf or Atlantic where sea turtles mistake them for a jellyfish lunch.”

Avoid stepping on dunes and sea grasses as it may cause erosion and destroy native vegetation important to Florida’s delicate ecosystem.

Fill holes in the sand created during sandcastle construction or moat carving. Sea turtles already have a difficult journey heading to and from the sea to lay their eggs without falling in the sandcastle trenches of tourists long vacated from the area.

“Dispose of cigarettes properly,” Graves wrote. “In 2010, the International Coastal Cleanup removed 1,892,526 cigarettes and cigarette filters from beaches around the world. More than 200,000 of these were found on Florida’s beaches.”

These relatively effortless steps not only apply for the spring break season but should also be practiced year-round as a form of beach etiquette.

 Hayley Benton
Staff Writer 

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Four campus buildings certified ‘green’

Recycling bins and receptacles are located all across the University of West Florida campus.

Next to many of the public printers and copy machines, bags with printed slogans remind students that “Once is not enough. Recycle.”

In the Nautilus Market, students are reminded that trays are not provided for a reason, as not using a tray saves three gallons of water per customer.

The University is also taking an even bigger step in order to “go green.”

New facilities at UWF are designed and constructed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification.

According to the “UWF Green Guide,” L.E.E.D. is an internationally recognized “green” building certification system that rates building designs, construction, operations and maintenance. Certification is also dependent on energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

These standards are set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

There is no state requirement to meet L.E.E.D. certification. UWF’s participation in this voluntary certification system was initiated by the Department of Facilities Development and Operations.

“It’s not about the requirements of L.E.E.D. and the standards they set,” Jim Barnett, associate vice president of Facilities Development and Operations, said. “It’s the hard work and dedication that really makes this program work.”

There are four levels of L.E.E.D. certification. In ascending order of qualification those ratings are certified, silver, gold and platinum.

Currently, there are four buildings on campus that meet the L.E.E.D certification: Building 4, the School of Science & Engineering, and Heritage Hall are both “Gold” rated.  Building 70, originally built in 1975, was remodeled and retrofitted and is also “Gold” rated.  The Child Care Center has a “Certified” rating.

A fifth building, not yet constructed, is the Build, Educate, Sustain and Technology (BEST) House. The BEST House is a collaborative effort involving UWF’s Construction Program, UWF Architectural and Engineering Services, and area businesses and industry who are committed to “green” construction and sustainable development, according to the UWF BEST House website.

The new College of Business complex is expected to earn “Gold” as well, according to the UWF Newsroom website.

According to UWF’s website, the University believes that good business is going to be sustainable business. The institution has clearly determined the importance of leading and teaching by example through constructing sustainable buildings.

The University’s “Building Design and Construction Standards,” identified minimum requirements for quality, energy, and resource conservation.

The University had planned to design and construct facilities using “Sustainable” principles; therefore, it was a modest change to improve to L.E.E.D. certification. When planning for the long-term, the university strategically believes L.E.E.D. is a financially justifiable way to build.

UWF’s “Building Design and Construction Standards” were developed in 2002 and continue to update annually.

The most recent edition, updated in December 2010, can be found at www. uwf.edu/aeservices.

 John Stevenson
Staff Writer 

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Changes would tarnish campus environment, university’s nature-friendly atmosphere

I think there needs to be a school-wide survey on how students feel about this whole moving-forward process. I personally do not want to put any of my money towards new athletic facilities.

I am not against a football team. However, I think Judy Bense is moving the school away from the values that it was founded on.

Many students I have talked to came to this school because of the small classes, and beautiful environment on campus.

If I wanted to attend a big university with a football team, I would have gone to Florida State University or the University of Florida.

I enjoy the small friendly atmosphere of UWF. I also really enjoy all of the nature trails on campus.

UWF was built to be a small University that had respect for nature.

UWF was not established to become a huge university that has lost its respect for nature.

— Raechel Vecchio
UWF student


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