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.