by Valorie Thompson
Several years ago, Pensacola State adopted sustainability as its college-wide theme. Since then, PSC has made efforts to improve its impact on the environment.
In recent years, the school has adopted a comprehensive recycling program.
The new South Santa Rosa center is PSC’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver building. Designated by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Silver rating denotes green construction practices and energy efficiency.
Distance learning courses are also a part of the goal as well, helping students to reduce the amount of travel needed for school which saves resources and reduces traffic congestion.
In 2009, Pensacola State created a position for an Energy Education Specialist; unfortunately, the position was later cut due to budget reductions. Physical Plant Director Walt Winter assumed the duties of the position however and continues to work on improving PSC’s energy efficiency.
“We are changing out fluorescent light bulbs to the newest low wattage bulb available to save electricity. We have replaced two of the College’s fleet vehicles with Hybrid cars and will continue this as other vehicles are replaced,” Winter said, noting improvements.
“The Soft Drink machines have all been changed out with ‘Energy Star’ machines. We are recycling solid waste, metal, oil, light bulbs, ballasts, and batteries,” Winter said.
Plans for solar power to heat the school’s pool have been developed, but are on-hold for the moment.
“This (solar panels) will have to wait until State funding increases. The initial installation for this is very expensive and the payback is over eight years,” Winter said. “Our main problem now is getting enough funding to do everything that needs to be done.”
PSC has also had a Performance Contract with the Trane Company for many years improving the school’s energy efficiency.
“Trane guarantees $650,000 annual energy savings for ten years from the start of the project. They also guarantee and maintain the equipment and systems installed as part of the Performance Contract,” Winter said. “They issue annual reports on the energy usage and if they fall short of the guaranteed amount, they will write the College a check for the difference.”
A few programs at the school have also adopted components involving sustainability, such as the Construction program, who built a model green building incorporating sustainable building practices as well as energy efficient windows and appliances. The Landscape Management program now includes organic gardening classes.
Pensacola State’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Erin Spicer notes that the commitment to green practices is an ongoing process.
“We continually monitor the needs to the local workforce and new program development will depend upon the workforce needs,” Spicer said. “As northwest Florida begins to place more emphasis on business development, there may be opportunities for Pensacola State College to develop programs in sustainability.”