Old city, modern concept: Sustainability as a new practice

SustainabilityBy Darq-Amber Neimark | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Flagler College and the city of St. Augustine are following in the sustainable footsteps of several other Florida schools and cities as the “Green Movement” takes hold in the Nation’s Oldest City.

Three big universities in Florida including University of North Florida, University of Florida and Florida State University, have long since implemented sustainability into their schools and towns.

As early as 2004, FSU formed recycling groups on campus. From 2005 to 2011, UNF had a waste recycling increase of 238 percent, and according to University of Florida’s Office of Sustainability website, “The greening of the University of Florida began in 1990 when President Lombardi signed the Talloires Declaration, pledging to make environmental education and research a central goal in this institution.”

Both St. Augustine and Flagler College have begun to take note of advancements in the growing sustainability movement as a general city-wide practice and a institutional social responsibility.

“We definitely use other universities around Florida as influences. We get ideas from them on what we could do here at Flagler to improve our sustainability,” said Kristine Warrenburg-Rome, Sustainability Committee chair and assistant professor of Communication at Flagler College.

The Sustainability Committee at Flagler is going on its fourth year and has had a number of accomplishments in the way of sustainable practices.

In 2011, Flagler was recognized by the city of St. Augustine for cardboard recycling, as well as for the recently installed chiller plant behind the library, which saves $54,000 per year. In 2012, Flagler received the Historic Preservation Award for outstanding achievement and adaptive use for the renovation of the FEC buildings on campus.

Again in 2012, Flagler adopted a full-blown recycling program, housed under the Maintenance Department.

“In comparison to other schools and cities, we are at the beginning levels,” said Warrenburg-Rome. “Flagler, unlike other schools, doesn’t even have sustainability funding. We operate on basically zero budget.”

One man making a difference in sustainability around St. Augustine is Rick Stevens, the manager of Solid Waste and Sanitation for the city. Stevens was the keynote speaker for Flagler’s Sustainability Committee’s event “Love Your Planet 2013” that took place in the spring.

Stevens oversees the recycling efforts performed by the city and has served on several different committees on collection, disposal and recycling throughout the state. Most recently, he has been instrumental in the acquisition of a new, sustainable truck. The new truck saves on fuel costs by 25 percent and allows for a greater carrying capacity.

Although Flagler College and St. Augustine sustainability movements are relatively young, influences from various other academic institutions and regions as a whole have contributed to the growth in this important area.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re happy and eager to celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far in our three years as a committee,” Warrenburg-Rome said.

Slow Food First Coast at this past Love Your Planet event on Flagler's Campus in February

Slow Food First Coast at this past Love Your Planet event on Flagler’s Campus in February

Kristine Warrenburg-Rome - Sustainability Committee Chair and Assistant Professor of Communication

Kristine Warrenburg-Rome – Sustainability Committee Chair and Assistant Professor of Communication

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