BY Emily Jensen
Slough Reserve. Most of us walk around on it almost daily, surrounded by lush forests, clean air and a welcomed canopy of shade. The university’s administration is taking new initiatives to improve and maintain this pristine environmental recourse.
President Delaney is signing the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment October 26. The commitment is a promise among colleges and universities to “go-green.”
UNF’s new initiative, the Environment Sustainability Awareness Program, is charged with keeping everyone at UNF informed about the commitment changes.
One way UNF is staying sustainably savvy is by building only Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings. In order for a building to be LEED-certified, it must pass in the areas of sustainable building sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and indoor environmental quality.
So far, UNF has six LEED-certified buildings. The College of Education and Health Services received a gold certification; Parking Services, the Osprey Fountains and the Brooks College of Health received silver; and the Social Science building and the Student Union were awarded a basic certification.
There are other areas on campus that are getting a green face-lift, as well.
Walking through the grass, you may not realize just how much upkeep it needs to look good. As of right now, all the grass on campus is St. Augustine grass. It takes fertilizer, water, regular mowing and a lot of effort to try and keep the grass looking nice.
“In some of the small spots where St. Augustine failed this year, I want to trial the new dwarf seaside paspalum and zoysia turf grasses,” said Chuck Hubbach, assistant director of UNF Physical Facilities.
These types of grasses require less mowing, which leads to less fossil fuel in the atmosphere. The grasses are also more tolerable to the heat and need less water than St. Augustine grass.
The Sawmill Reserve
Another project Hubbach is in charge of is removing harmful plants from the Sawmill Slough.
The reserve, which UNF has protected since 1973 is home to native and migrating birds, along with many other native plants and animals. Hubbach said because of these plants and animals, he is removing harmful plants.
“[The exotic plants are] crowding out the native plants that provide food and shelter for native animals,” he said.
Controlled or prescribed burns are solutions to getting rid of these invasive plants to keep them from crowing out the native ones.
The burns also prevent wildfires by allowing people to choose the time and conditions for the fire, which makes it easier to control and minimize smoke’s impact, Hubbach said.
Robert McCracker, the manager of vehicle maintenance within physical facilities, and a team of 14 people are improving the way UNF disposes garbage and recycling.
The team picks up recycling from the buildings based on a weekly schedule and supply larger recycling bins, if needed. The team takes items ranging from paper, cardboard and drink containers to batteries and ink cartridges.
Most of the garbage goes to high compression compactors, which are replacing the top load dumpsters around campus
The new compactors takes more garbage to fill, meaning less dump truck traffic on campus.
McCracken and the team weigh the compactors to know exactly how much trash and recycling is leaving campus.
“Having the weights helps us to accurately track our progress with recycling and reduces landfill cost because we only pay for the weight hauled,” McCracken said.
You can help remove your carbon footprint by joining the fourth annual Garbage on the Green being held near the Student Union Oct. 22. There will be a campus clean-up, a trash and recycling audit, free food and information on environmental issues by various organizations.
Colleen Herms, project assistant for the Environmental Center, is looking for volunteers to help in the campus litter pick up and the waste audit. E-mail Herms at [email protected] for more information.