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SG's Renewable Energy Resolution Supports Moving Toward a Sustainability-Focused University: Oracle

The USF student government's renewable energy resolution could potentially help Florida's environment and reduce future university utility budgets. SPECIAL FOR THE ORACLE

The Senate of the Student Government (SG) passed a resolution on March 23 that promises that the three USF campuses will reach a total dependence on renewable energy for the 2040. This measure is nothing more than a positive development for student and teacher life.

Proposed by the USF chapter of the Florida Public Interest Research Group, the resolution seeks to encourage USF to achieve renewable energy throughout the university by 2030 and rely on of it entirely just 10 years later, promising a sustainable environment for those who live on and around the three campuses.

The resolution asks the administration to start slowly by changing the bulbs and eventually switch to golf carts for the management and maintenance of golf carts with the same energy that will be collected at through solar panels placed on top of buildings on campus. .

This would be a great use of university funds as it will benefit those on campus and allow USF to become a more environmentally sustainable community.

The resolution may appear to cost the university a large portion of its annual budget, but that is not the case. USF has an operating budget for 2020-21 of $ 1 .23 million for environmental health and safety, while also budgeting $ 1 .67 million for public services of the same year.

Together, these two funds represent less than 1% of the 2020-21 administrative services budget and only 0.6% of the USF budget for the entire school year.

Public utility funds and environmental health and safety funds could finally be transferred to the necessary maintenance for the solar panels, once the application is completed in 2040, as the university would be fully powered renewable, eliminating the need to continually outsource and finance electrical services.

The environmental effects of 100% reliance on renewable energy sources is something to strive for at a state university that prides itself on its green initiatives and its school of environmental engineering .

The USF Campus Master Plan from 2015 to 2025 establishes that the USF administration is committed to working towards the minimization of its negative environmental impacts and plans to improve the planet by through “better quality of air, water and open spaces in the vicinity of campus. "

The Patel College of Global Sustainability at USF also developed a Climate Action Plan in 2010 committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2035 and achieve emissions carbon net by 2050.

All of these stated goals can be achieved if the USF administration considers resolution and begins to move toward the use of renewable energy sources.

USF's air and water quality improvement can also begin with the introduction of renewable energy on campus, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization of experts working to spread the word about climate change. .

The use of renewable energy sources can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide. In 2019, 29% of the emissions US carbon dioxide emissions were derived from electricity production, according to the US Energy Information Administration, so moving to renewable energy will help the US get one step closer to minimize your carbon footprint. SG is moving in the right direction by passing this new resolution which will hopefully help lessen USF's environmental damage if the administration supports it.

One problem with SG's resolution is that it is largely symbolic because it only formally establishes SG's position and does not propose specific actions to be taken in the future by SG or USF. Despite this, SG has now taken the first step in sustainability, which is to raise the idea of ​​safer and cleaner resources. Once the university commits to deploying solar panels and replacing light bulbs, it will have no choice but to move on in its attempts to create more sustainable campuses.

More universities, and eventually other government-funded facilities, should also begin to move their campuses to renewable energy sources.

The SG of UF has begun to change the bulbs on its campuses for green options, such as LEDs and fluorescent, but has not set a date to complete the replacement of all energy sources with more sustainable alternatives. In January 2020, 3,600 FSU students signed a petition urging their SG to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050, prompting the SG to pass a resolution that same year.

The greenhouse effect emissions from each of these campuses show the need for a renewable energy program. USF's greenhouse gas emissions were nearly 200,000 metric tons in 2014, increasing 1.9%, or 3,697 metric tons, since 2009. UF also emitted more than 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases in the 2018-19 school year, while FSU only emitted around 140,000 metric tons the previous year, according to the self-reports of each university.

If UF and FSU worked with USF to create a more sustainable Florida university system, the state's school system would be making a visible difference in Florida's greenhouse emissions and quality. general air.

The Senate made the correct decision by passing this resolution on renewable energy . If USF recognizes this and moves toward achieving the goals it has already set in other sustainability plans, students should expect to see positive improvements on campus in the years to come.

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