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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Gators’ green agenda has propelled them to a clean No. 1 spot.

UF ranked as the top school on the Roberts Environmental Center’s sustainability reporting of the top U.S. universities.

Undergraduates of California’s Claremont McKenna College scanned universities’ websites, including Brown, Yale and Duke, for criteria pertaining to social and environmental issues. Information was then compiled into PDF files, which were divided into sustainability categories to see how many the university covered.

According to center director Emil Morhardt, UF had about 800 pages that fit the eco-friendly subjects including food and recycling, waste, water use and green building.

Green building was an area that researchers noticed has been a growing trend at universities.

UF has implemented what is known as LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, in its construction over the years, most recently in the remodeling of the Southwest Recreation Center.

RDG Planning and Design’s Al Oberlander, who was the principal on the Southwest project, said the low-energy materials used for the renovation came from within a 500-mile radius of campus to cut down on transportation energy.

Oberlander also noted other environmentally friendly features such as the gym’s electricity, which is generated in part by the elliptical machines as students work out on them.

“It’s very unique,” Oberlander said. “There aren’t a lot of campuses around the country that are doing that.”

He said UF was one of the first advocates of sustainability and the university has a lot of strong advocates for the cause.

The UF Office of Sustainability is a fixture that has especially complemented the campus’s efforts by making strides to reduce carbon emissions, focusing on locally grown produce and partnering with campus organizations to spread sustainability education.

Though Florida was at the top spot in the report, edging out Georgetown and University of Southern California, Morhardt said sustainability as a whole has improved dramatically in the past five years in the realm of universities, and much of it has to do with the increasing concern from students.

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“If a student body makes awareness of something, that’s been known to have a profound effect,” he said. “Any given [institution] can have its whole behavior changed by one person deciding something is really important.”

Top 5 Sustainable Schools

1. UF

2. Georgetown University

3. University of Southern California

4. Vanderbilt University

5. Brown University

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