Spreading Sustainability

Our sustainability courses and degree programs are top-notch, but at Florida Tech, “sustainability” goes beyond academics. Sustainability initiatives and practices have become core components of who we are.

“Sustainability issues involve almost everything,” says Dr. Ken Lindeman, co-chair of the University Sustainability Council (USC) and professor of ocean engineering and marine sciences.

How so?

6 Ways Florida Tech is Leading the Way for a More Sustainable Future

1. University Organization

Coordination and involvement of the whole Florida Tech community is a vital part of sustainability action. The USC, for example, is charged with compiling detailed data submissions to green accreditors, liaising with outside and on-campus organizations and spearheading many other sustainability efforts. Composed of more than 40 members, including 13 students representing diverse student organizations, the USC ensures broad coordination on sustainable initiatives campuswide.

2. Community Involvement

Many years of student senior sustainability research projects for the Northrop Grumman Engineering and Science Student Design Showcase have helped build first-ever sustainability plans for five local cities, including the largest city in the county, Palm Bay. Subsequent senior research students have then implemented diverse sustainability initiatives on the ground in these cities. Over 15 students from many campus majors have engaged in these unique campus-community partnerships.

Thirteen years ago, Florida Tech’s leadership saw an opportunity to fill new education needs for the transdisciplinary challenges of the 21st century. Since then, we have relentlessly built some of the few STEM-based sustainability major and minor programs in the southern U.S. We look forward to the next steps on this journey.”

Ken Lindeman, professor, ocean engineering and marine sciences; CO-CHAIR, UNIVERSITY SUSTAINABILITY COUNCIL

3. Abundant Awards

Through its sustainability initiatives, Florida Tech has attained some remarkable accomplishments. Accolades like these speak for themselves!

AASHE Silver Stars Rating Logo

AASHE Silver Stars Rating

One of only six universities in Florida with this prestigious campuswide award

Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges logo

Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges 2023

“We strongly recommend Florida Tech to the increasing number of students who care about the environment and want their ‘best-fit’ college to also ideally be a green one. Florida Tech demonstrated an exemplary commitment to sustainability and to green practices—and it offers excellent academic programs.”

—Rob Franek, editor-in-chief, The Princeton Review

LEED Building Certification logo

LEED Building Certification

Home to two LEED-certified green buildings

Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly University

Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly University

For safe and accessible bicycling practices on campus

Sierra Club Cool Schools Ranking

Sierra Club Cool Schools Ranking

Recognized for energy-efficiency actions

4. Impressive Infrastructure

From sustainable building design to building updates with modern, energy-efficient heating systems, LED lighting, automated controls and more, the facilities operations department plays a huge role in maintaining a sustainable campus.

“Facilities at Florida Tech is utilizing proven sustainable approaches that limit or reduce our impact on the environment because we know it is important to the campus community and beyond,” says Kirk Hemphill, director of maintenance.

Florida Tech Aquatic Center

In 2015, the Florida Tech Aquatic Center received a LEED Silver certification. Thanks to student senior sustainability research projects alongside the facilities operations department, the complex became one of the few green-certified pools in the state.

The Scott Center for Autism Treatment

Also the result of a partnership between student research teams and facilities operations, The Scott Center for Autism Treatment was Florida Tech’s first building formally built to LEED certification specifications.

Folliard Alumni Center

Currently in the application process for LEED certification, the new, state-of-the-art Folliard Alumni Center is a net-zero energy structure and serves as a model for a cost-effective, solar-powered commercial office building design for a Florida climate. It also features a Lagoon-Friendly Lawn, using native plants that reduce water usage and nutrient runoff to help prevent algal blooms and fish kills in the Indian River Lagoon. The building has received both the City of Melbourne Beautification and Energy Efficiency Board’s Melbourne Clean Energy award and Diamond Gems award.

Panther Dining Hall

Panther Dining Hall has various vegan offerings and uses state-of-the-art systems to reduce waste, recycle water and sanitize dishes for reuse in the dining room. The adjacent grocery store also has a variety of organic offerings.

Folliard Alumni Center

5. A+ Academics

Sustainability Studies, B.S.

The sustainability studies major program expands on Florida Tech’s science and technology strengths in combination with customized business and social science courses to satisfy industry, government and nonprofit needs for graduates who can operate across multiple disciplines.

“This is entrepreneurial, STEM-based sustainability, since many sustainability programs are not science- and tech-based. Yet, majors also take a minimum of five business courses,” Lindeman says.

Sustainability Minor

Open to undergraduate students in any Florida Tech program, sustainability minor students are required to conduct a capstone research project.

“Over the past 13 years, more than 165 students have graduated with either a minor or bachelor’s degree in sustainability at Florida Tech. Those minor students represent over 30 undergraduate programs from all colleges on campus,” Lindeman says.

Communicating Sustainability Course

Students in this new School of Arts and Communication special topics course produce a documentary and related media materials highlighting sustainability initiatives. The course teaches applied communication strategies and tactics and how to apply them in the context of sustainability narratives.

Tree-planting ceremony to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day April 29.
Tree-planting ceremony to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day April 29

6. Student Organizations

An integral part of Florida Tech’s sustainability efforts are the student organizations that focus on sustainability education through events and practical hands-on activities. Some of these include:

Student Organization for Sustainability Action SOSA

One of the older campus sustainability clubs, SOSA conducts projects and events on and off campus to advance sustainability initiatives. Projects include spring and fall Earth Week events and other activities with many campus and community partners.

Residence Life Sustainability Committee

Composed of residence hall advisors and directors from all campus housing areas, this committee manages the Leave Green program, which recycles materials during the end-of-year move-out, as well as other important campus energy and recycling projects.

Ethos Community Garden

This student-run community garden teaches members how to grow plants—from native flowers to eggplant trees and everything in between—and about sustainable growing practices.

Ethos Commuinty Garden in front of Evans Hall
Ethos Community Garden

The Green Paw Print is your one-stop shop for everything sustainability at Florida Tech.

Thumbnail of 2022 The Pursuit magazine's cover featuring six students on computers in the Esports Center

This piece originally appeared in the 2022 edition of Florida Tech’s prospective-student magazine, The Pursuit. It has been updated here for 2023.

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