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USF Tampa wins green awards for renewable energy project

When Hometalk, the largest home improvement and garden how-to online network, wanted to offer readers cool eco-friendly and sustainable ideas for green living, they turned to the nation’s universities and colleges.  

“We decided who better to reach out to for great ideas than colleges students,” says Tikva Morrow, editor of Hometalk.  

A renewable energy project at the University of South Florida was among five projects selected by Hometalk staff as the best examples across the country for “green living initiatives” that readers could duplicate at home or work, says Morrow.

“Hometalk has a large audience and our readers are real people who want to find better ways of living that help the environment.” Says Morrow.  “It’s all about changing the world by helping people change their daily practices.”

USF’s project, called Renew-a-Bull-Biodiesel, is a student designed, operated and maintained project in which students pay a voluntary green energy fee toward the cost of turning dining hall waste oil into biodiesel to run university buses.  David Townsend, USF student and co-project leader, said the program is a “prime example of the efforts made at USF to reduce the university’s carbon footprint.”

While Morrow points out that readers might not easily develop their own biodiesel, they could reduce their carbon footprint with simple green practices, such as turning off lights and adding better insulation to reduce electric bills and using green cleaning products that are better for the environment.

To identify the top college green living initiatives, Hometalk staff researched sources that included the Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges. USF was one of only 22 schools in Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Honor Roll.

From several hundred possible university projects, the Hometalk staff then narrowed the list to 25 potential finalists. The next step was to reach out to the various schools and talk with student leaders who were running the projects, says Morrow.  After much discussion, the final five were named.  

The other university projects selected included a campus farm at Duke University in North Carolina; a water conservation program at Stanford University in California; a recycling program at Green Mountain College in Vermont ; and a green living program called Ecovillage at Berea College in Kentucky.

Hometalk’s designation is not the only green accolade that USF has earned in the last year. Sierra Magazine ranked USF seventh out of 173 schools in the annual Sierra “Cools School” green list. USF’s 20,000-watt solar charging station for electric vehicles was mentioned as an example of an outstanding green initiative.

Read more articles by Janan Talafer.

Janan Talafer is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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