Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

St. Petersburg College has been selected Duke Energy Florida’s 2013 SunSense Schools Post Secondary School Award. The energy company will fund the college’s proposal for up to a 100 kW photovoltaic array project and its related educational outreach efforts.

SPC is the first state college in Florida to be selected for the award. Other postsecondary recipients in previous years include the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.

Duke Energy made the announcement on Monday, June 3.

Rather than one 100 kW array, the college decided to install two solar photovoltaic arrays in order to maximize exposure, said Diana Wright, Director of Facilities Services. At the Clearwater Campus, the grant will pay to erect a parking structure upon which a 43 kW array will be installed. At the Seminole Campus, a 57 kW array will be a ground-mounted, free-standing structure.

The new systems will serve as educational and research tools that will also help offset the energy costs of each campus.

“The Facilities department is excited to start construction on a project that will increase community awareness, contribute to the environment through sustainable practices and also increase student exposure to new technology right in our own backyard,” Wright said.

“Duke Energy has a balanced approach to meeting the energy needs of Florida’s consumers in a cost-effective, reliable manner,” Joseph Pietrzak, Senior Program Manager for Duke Energy Florida, said in the letter. “The balanced approach includes energy-efficiency, renewable energy technologies, and state-of-the-art power systems. Through the SunSense program, this 100 kW solar project at St. Petersburg College is playing a key role in our efforts to educate our customers on renewable energy production.”

Duke Energy will award the college up to $515,803 to cover project’s installations and other related educational outreach costs.

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Think of Dr. R.E. Cycler as a real-life WALL-E of Pixar fame. Neither is human. Both run on solar panels and teach people about sustainability and being eco-friendly.

Dr. R.E. Cycler is the name given to a robot from Florida Robotics Inc. of Orlando, which will be spending most of April 22 at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater Campus in recognition of Earth Day. With initials that stand for “Robotic Environmentalist,” it will be stationed on the campus’ quad to both “greet” people and crush and recycle cans.

This will be the first time the robot has been on display in the Tampa Bay area, said John Williams, a Natural Sciences instructor at SPC.

The Engineering and Science and Adventure clubs are co-sponsoring the robot’s visit, said Williams, the faculty advisor for the Engineering Club.

SPC Earth Day events

  • Habitat Park Cleanup – Seminole Campus – April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Debris Cleanup – Tarpon Springs Campus – April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Quad Event – St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus – April 25 from noon to 2 p.m.

* Learn more about getting a bachelor’s degree in sustainability management from SPC.

“We just thought it was a unique thing to do,” Williams said. Not only does Dr. Cycler promote the recycling effort and Earth Day but renewable energy.

Meeting Dr. Cycler should be an experience. Standing about 5-feet-tall, it talks and blinks its eyes while crushing a 12-ounce aluminum can down to about an inch thick in approximately 30 seconds. All of the recycling process is visible through the robot’s see-through “stomach.” Plus the robot breathes, sort of.

When you feed it with a can, it blows out a minty-smelling breath, Williams said.

Free drinks and snacks will be provided at the Dr. Cycler meet-and-greet. The robot will be at the campus from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Watch Dr. Cycler on YouTube.

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3d_renderRecent SPC graduate Bryan Blackford submitted a $1.8 million grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to develop a Hands-On Sustainability Experience at St. Petersburg’s Education Innovation Center (EIC). It would teach K-12 students about environmental engineering and sustainability.

Formerly the Science Center of Pinellas County, the EIC is located at 7701 22nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg.

The goal of the grant is to provide a facility where K-12 students can interact with innovative technologies such as:
• Solar panels
• Sustainable garden
• LED lighting
• Wind turbine
• Photovoltaic systems
• Green roofing system
• Solar-powered car charging station

Blackford earned his B.A.S. in Sustainability Management from SPC in December 2012. While at SPC, his capstone project featured the implementation of sustainable technologies at the science center.

Collaborators on the grant proposal include:
• Dr. Cyndy Leard, EIC
• Lisa Pineda, EIC
• Dr. Kent Curtis, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Eckerd College
• Julius Keblinskas, LEEP-AP Architect

The proposed facility will also provide a living model of innovative sustainable technologies for college students and industry professionals. For more information about the project email lpineda@steic.org or call 727-384-0027.

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Students had their hands in design of building

It is their building after all.

Before the first nail was ever hammered or blue print rendered for the new Ethics and Social Science Building on the Clearwater Campus, students were part of the process.

From helping select the architect to recommending which solar installation to put on the roof, students took an active role in helping complete the building, which opened in spring, 2013. The three-story building sits on the site of the former Teaching Auditorium and contains 26 classrooms, faculty and adjunct office suites and student lounges and a cafe.

“We were very honored and really excited that we were able to have our hands in this project and become more of a part of the campus,” said Ashley Lindsay, 27, a architecture student who graduated from SPC in the Spring of 2012. “SPC has really evolved into this whole other realm; they’re taking on a lot more students and they’re trying to integrate the community into the school, as well as having the school be a reflection of the community.”

The entire design and construction process for the new Clearwater building has been open to architecture, construction, sustainability and engineering students, who have gotten involved in other ways:

  • Lindsay and her fellow students in her Architectural Design Studio 3 class presented their overall design for the quad and specifically designed components to the college’s Board of Trustees in November, 2011. The year before, architectural design and building construction students made conceptual design recommendations to the board.
  • Architecture and construction students participated in selecting the architect and construction manager, attended design sessions hosted at the Clearwater Campus and spent a day at the offices of Harvard Jolly Architecture, Inc., for a project overview, tour and discussion of how an architect’s office operates.
  • Engineering students toured the project engineer’s office, where they discussed the engineering profession and the solar design.
  • Construction and architecture students in the Materials and Methods and Practicum classes attended monthly site tours and meetings to observe, discuss and learn about the current details of the construction.

“They got the really rare opportunity so early in their education to design something that actually will be constructed,” said Susan Elftman, architecture instructor. “The opportunity to present their ideas and thoughts in front of such an esteemed group as the Board of Trustees is also very rare and an incredible experience.”

Take a photo tour of the new building on our Facebook page. Learn more about the solar energy installations at SPC.

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83 Degrees featured an article this week on the Sustainable Environment Research Foundation or SERF, a nonprofit that incorporates preservation, education and sustainable technology into one facility in Tarpon Springs.

The article mentions talks with SPC about sustainability training for high school and college students and plans for students from the college’s sustainability management program to intern at Tampa Bay area companies in the fields of marine science, engineering and environmental science and to work on community projects. Dr. Lynn Grinnell, a professor of sustainability management at St. Petersburg College, is quoted in the article. SPC’s sustainability management program offers nine core classes where students can attain skills that will give them a unique edge in a competitive job market, Grinnell said.

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Two SPC alumni and two professors made their mark in Kent State University’s 2nd Annual International Symposium on Sustainable Value Chains earlier this summer in Cleveland.

From left: Lynn Grinnell, Rachel Cooper, Greg Nenstiel

From left: Lynn Grinnell, Rachel Cooper, Greg Nenstiel

Rachel Cooper and Cheryl Little, recent Sustainability Management bachelor’s graduates, received the Certificate of Achievement for Symposium Best Student Paper. Their paper, “A Sustainability Survey for the Assessment of External Manufacturing Suppliers,” was a variation of their senior capstone course project, which focused on the sustainability efforts of a local undisclosed corporation.

“We had to change it a little bit from when we did it for the school and make the paper a little more generic to submit it for the conference,” said Cooper, who graduated Magna Cum Laude in the spring. “(The company) wanted to make sure they weren’t identifiable in the paper for the symposium because quite a bit of the information they gave was proprietary to them.”

The women were competing with students from major universities – several of whom were Kent State University graduate students.

“I just couldn’t believe that we’d actually won,” said Little, who works in supply chain management. “That’s awesome – to beat people from Kent State. It’s such a well-known college.”

Wende Huehn-Brown

Wende Huehn-Brown

“It was nice to see our students not only perform at this level, but win this award for their hard work,” said Wende Huehn-Brown, SPC professor in the College of Business who participated in the symposium. “They truly did a great job on this project and it showed in their paper.”

Huehn-Brown, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a doctorate in engineering management from the University of Missouri-Rolla, presented a paper at the conference with Deborah Eldridge, professor of law at the Clearwater Campus.

The paper, “The Legal Impact of Sustainable Value Chains” takes an in-depth look at the international regulations driving sustainable innovations and improvements in the supply chain, said Eldridge, who received her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Florida State University and Juris Doctor degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.

Deborah Eldridge

Deborah Eldridge

“Because the laws in the European Union are so strict with regards to disposal and recycling uses for a product, the whole idea is that from the time you decide to create a new product, you have to start looking at the start and end costs, and how to increase the net income of a product while also making it a sustainable product that complies with the laws,” she said.

“That’s where the value chain of the supply chain comes in,” Eldridge said. “If you’re using suppliers that also are sustainable suppliers and they fall within the green category, then that obviously is going to decrease the end-use issues – or disposal issues – with regard to your product.”

Huehn-Brown said the paper will be used in SPC courses to help students understand the process and thinking that occurs in the supply side and the legal side.

“Those are two different classes that we teach in this field,” she said. “We’re going to use it in the classes, but we’re more into applied research and looking at the practicum side of how we can take this knowledge and help companies be more competitive in the global market place.”

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Trash collection has evolved from a one man cart in Roman times to 243 million tons of waste collected every year. The enormity of waste disposal is at the center of the newest of three documentaries produced by St. Petersburg College media arts students in partnership with public media outlet WEDU. The 30-minute documentary “Away: A Story of Trash” will premiere on WEDU Thursday, Aug. 25 at 10 p.m.

“Away: A Story of Trash” will educate and entertain viewers about the history of waste management – the current practices, problems and what the average American’s perception of “throwing away” garbage really means. The program will identify new technologies and processes that have been created to reduce the amount of solid waste – and the many recycling and disposal programs of Pinellas County in particular. The viewer will ultimately walk away with an understanding of what they can do to help – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the three R’s of waste management.

“It’s really amazing to see how much work actually goes into it,” said Katie Bishop, Executive Producer of Away: A Story of Trash. “I hope the viewers will be educated enough to be influenced to take action and reduce the amount of waste we create, so we can preserve the earth for future generations.”

“Local programs that both educate viewers and address topics important to the community are part of the mission of our station,” said Jack Conely, Vice President of Content for WEDU. “Additionally, our ongoing collaboration with St. Petersburg College has not only produced relevant content, but has given the students real-world experience and contributes significantly to the resumes of budding film producers.”

Previous documentaries produced by SPC students in conjunction with WEDU included the 30-minute “Go Green Tampa Bay” in 2008. The documentary was designed to inspire viewers to come up with ideas to counteract economic and environmental woes through the use of alternative resources.

The other documentary, produced in 2010, was entitled “Tony Jannus: American Aviator.” The 30-minute program educated viewers about American aviation history, advances in technology and industry pioneers, showing how the trillion dollar commercial aviation industry started from the purchase of one ticket: a flight on the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, piloted by Tony Jannus.

WEDU is west central Florida’s leading PBS station and public media company reaching 16 counties through multiple media platforms including on-air programming and online experiences that broaden horizons, transport and transform and open gateways to new ideas and new worlds. For more information, program schedules or to support WEDU visit WEDU.org.

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Want to help St. Petersburg College students clean up Pinellas County beaches? Here’s your big chance: SPC environmental club members and others will be out on the beach in Clearwater on Saturday, July 31, for a day of beach cleanup. Bags, gloves and water will be provided. Come help clean up for a few hours, then enjoy the rest of the day on the beach!

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St. Petersburg College was named “Outstanding Business of the Year” Friday by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, a sustainable building organization whose membership covers 15 counties from  Citrus County to Collier County.

The award recognizes a business that demonstrates a commitment to green building initiatives and a culture of sustainability through the services or products it provides and the way which it conducts day-to-day operations.

“Environmental issues are no longer a fad, but rather a mainstream philosophy,” said Jason Green, SPC’s Sustainability Coordinator. “Now more than ever, the college has the opportunity to provide the leadership needed to help guide the community to a more sustainable future.”

The college began to cement its environmental reputation in late 2008.

Since that time, it has opened two of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the Tampa Bay area.  The buildings, St Petersburg/Gibbs Campus’ Students Services building and Clearwater Campus’ Natural Science, Mathematics and College of Education building, were both awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification by the USGBC.

The LEED Green Building Rating System™ is a nationally accepted certifier of high performance and environmentally sensitive buildings.

Three other SPC buildings are under various stages of development and will be built to meet a LEED Silver certification or higher.

Additionally, SPC developed an Associate of Science in Environmental Science Technology and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainability Management; an online LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance 2009 examination training course; an online and face-to-face solar energy generation, installation and inspection training course; and soon will offer nearly 50 other environmentally-focused continuing education/certification programs.

SPC recently installed its first solar energy system, a thin film solar blanket for use as a teaching tool.  This system, along with other energy conserving initiatives, have resulted in a cost avoidance savings of over $500,000; preventing 1,888 metric tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the air, equivalent to removing 310 cars from the road, supplying electricity to 235 homes for one year, or planting 42,729 trees.

Among many other initiatives, SPC is developing a natural habitat park/environmental center for passive recreation, observation, and education. SPC has initiated an Energy Star purchasing policy, a native plant policy and exclusively uses “green cleaning” products.

SPC also hosts four active environmental clubs and a chapter of USGBC Students.

Additionally, Ken Buschle, an SPC alum, received the Chapter Member of the Year award, which goes to an individual who demonstrates dedication to chapter growth and betterment, commitment to educating the membership base on progressive initiatives, or enthusiasm about green building practices in others.

To learn more about SPC’s sustainability initiatives, visit www.spcollege.edu/sustainability.


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St. Petersburg College will participate in Earth Hour, turning off non-essential lighting to demonstrate its concern for climate change.

Earth Hour begins at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27.

“Earth Hour is a powerful message that climate change is an important priority that must be dealt with now,” said Jason Green, SPC’s Sustainability Coordinator. “By turning off non-essential lighting for one hour, hundreds of millions of people across the globe will show their support for lasting action to protect Earth’s natural resources, environment and climate.”

Led by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour has grown from a citywide effort in 2007 to a global phenomenon that has captured attention around the world. Individuals, organizations, businesses, and state and local governments come together to turn off lights in homes, workplaces, and at such landmarks as the Empire State Building, Las Vegas Strip, Sydney’s Opera House and others. In 2009 alone, Earth Hour spanned 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.

St Petersburg College will turn off all non-essential lighting on all campuses. Some lights will remain on if they affect lives, safety or security.

To get involved in Earth Hour:

  1. Sign up at EarthHour.org, and get tips on how to reduce one’s impact on the environment.
  2. Spread the word by inviting students, friends and family to join the movement.
  3. Turn off non-essential lighting at 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 27.

To learn more about Earth Hour, visit www.EarthHour.org. To learn more about sustainability at St Petersburg College, visit www.spcollege.edu/sustainability, or contact Jason Green at green.jason@spcollege.edu.


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