Green Team FAQ

Below are the most frequently asked questions regarding the Green team network and sustainable solutions for your department or workspace.

Green Teams

  • What is a Green Team?
    Green Teams develop new initiatives appropriate to their departments in addition to actively participating in campus-wide sustainability initiatives. Green Teams identify how their department or unit can increase efficiency by incorporating sustainability into processes and ensuring that these practices become institutionalized.
  • What responsibilities does a Green Team member have?
    The focus of Green Teams vary depending on the department it serves. However, the overall role of a Green Team is to facilitate the creation, promotion, and implementation of sustainability programs within a department or unit. Members will hold and attend departmental Green Team meetings to assess internal processes and evaluate ways to improve sustainability efforts. Members also contribute to the greater Green Team network by providing information on best practices, successes, and by serving as resources based on their areas of expertise.
  • How much of a time commitment is it to be a part of a Green Team?
    Time commitments for Green Team members may vary, and it is up to the team to establish meeting schedules. Green Team participation is solely volunteered-based and is in addition to any normal work duties and hours. 3-5 hours each month is the typical commitment.
  • Do you need any prior experience/knowledge to be on a Green Team
    No. Your passion for sustainability is enough to get you started! We have resources to help you become an active member in the Green Team Network.
  • What resources are available to support my Green Team?
    In addition to the Getting Started Guide, members will have access to many different types of online resources coming from different campus units. Resources consist of guides on improving your workplace, energy reduction tips, worksheets, how-to guides incorporating best practices, sustainable purchasing guidelines, and presentation materials.

Recycling and Waste

  • I have a stockpile of old batteries that I need to dispose of properly. I was told that they are hazardous waste, but am not sure what the protocol is for this type of waste at UF, can you help?
    If you are disposing of regular, old-fashioned acid batteries, they are not considered hazardous waste, and should be disposed of in your regular garbage. Rechargeable batteries, or those containing heavy metals such as lithium, are considered hazardous waste.  University-generated hazardous waste is handled by the Environmental Health and Safety Department (EH&S). Please call EH&S at 352-392-1591 for additional information and assistanceFor “Universal Wastes” (a special family of wastes which are regulated different from the rules governing hazardous waste), such as rechargeable batteries, mercury-containing lamps, and mercury-containing devices, follow the instructions here:
    http://www.ehs.ufl.edu/programs/chemrad_waste/lab-chem-waste-mgmt/methods-for-managing-specific-laboratory-wastes/universal-wastes/Personal hazardous waste, including rechargeable batteries and CFL bulbs should be taken to an Alachua County Hazardous Waste facility. For more information, call 352-334-0440 or visit:
    http://www.alachuacounty.us/Depts/epd/hwc/Pages/HazardousWasteCollection.aspxAt this time, UF does not have a location to collect personal hazardous waste, though we do try to have several collection days throughout the year where we assist in sorting waste, including hazardous waste, and donation materials.
  • How is electronic waste, or “e-waste,” handled at UF?
    UF actively seeks to reduce campus generation of e-waste through preventative maintenance on existing equipment and recirculation of used equipment via the “Surplus Property” program website. However, once electronic equipment has reached the end of its useful life, proper disposal is very important due to the toxic constituents of many of these products.
    Asset Management handles disposal of all electronic waste regardless of the size or cost of the item (i.e. even smaller items such as jump drives and phones). For an extensive list of electronic items recycled by the university, visit UF’s Asset Management website:
    http://www.fa.ufl.edu/directives-and-procedures/asset-management/#reducing
    https://myassets.fa.ufl.edu/Once items have been collected and all efforts to reuse them have been exhausted, the university contracts with a certified E-Stewards recycler.Personal electronic waste can be taken to the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center or through electronics retailers such as Staples and Best Buy.
  • I was wondering if you know whether the juice boxes are good for recycling. They look like they’re made of paper but on the other hand they are covered with some sort of synthetic inside. I don’t know if I should put them in the paper bin for recycling or just trash them in the “normal” trash-bin?
    Yes – Aseptic and Gabletop cartons (Cartons that either look like a box or have a top that looks like a gable and that often hold juice or other liquids) are recyclable in the blue bins thanks to work by the Carton Council. However, not all of the carton is recyclable, so much may still end up as waste. A better bet is to buy your favorite beverage in a larger size and bring it with you in a reusable container that you can wash.
  • Is there a way to get recycling at my apartment complex?
    Yes! Everyone should be able to recycle. First of all, talk to the leasing office at your apartment complex. They may have recycling bins placed somewhere that you just aren’t aware of.The City of Gainesville has a Mandatory Commercial Recycling Ordinance that requires all commercial properties, which includes apartment complexes, to provide recycling for newspaper, glass, aluminum, and plastic. If your complex does not, you can call (352) 334-2330 and leave a message with your name and contact information. The city will contact the complex and follow up to improve recycling there.
  • Recyclable plastics are stamped with different numbers. What types are recycled locally?
    The numbers on plastics refer to the type of plastic used to make the container, and do NOT reflect whether or not the item is recyclable. All Gainesville recycling goes through Alachua County Solid Waste & Resource Recovery at the Leveda Brown Transfer Station.In general, the rule for plastics is “anything with a neck on it”, as well as yogurt cups and margarine tubs, regardless of the number on the bottom. Other plastics, such as plastic bags, food trays, berry baskets, and Solo cups are NOT recyclable).The types of plastics that are accepted are limited by the markets in which they can be traded. If there isn’t a market for it, Alachua County can’t collect it. This is why different plastics can be recycled in different locations around the country. Thanks for helping UF’s community understand what can be diverted from the landfill!
  • How are lab and research plastics handled at UF? Are these recyclable?
    Corning® pipet tip tracks are recyclable thanks to the company’s Recycle Now Program! For more information on how to recycle pipette tracks please contact your Corning Account Manager for mailing labels and additional information.Additionally, ice packs that come in shipments from Fisher Scientific can be returned to the Fisher Stockrooms for recycling/reuse.Finally, Physical Plant Division is working to expand UF’s plastics recycling program to include many items that are generated in large quantities on campus, such as pipette tip boxes and some rigid plastic items. Please contact the Technical manager for Waste Diversion (352-294-2225) for additional information.Unfortunately, there is currently no recycling program in place for many other medical or lab plastics, but the university is exploring various options and strategies in terms of tackling unique waste streams and unconventional recyclable products.
  • I have some empty ink cartridges in my office. Does UF have a program to recycle these?
    Through partnerships with both Xerox and Laser Action Plus, all printer cartridges can be recycled by placing them in their original container, sealing the container, and placing the sealed container in your outgoing mail for Mail and Document Services to take back to Central Stores to be sent back for re-manufacturing. For additional information about printer cartridge recycling as well as instructions for off-campus locations, please visit the PrintSmart website. If you have a very large number of printer cartridges, please contact UF’s Solid Waste Coordinator at (352) 392-7396 to make special arrangements.
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  • Our office regularly receives Styrofoam packaging. Can it be reused or recycled on campus?
    At this time there is not a way to recycle Styrofoam on campus, however Fedex and UPS do take packing peanuts. At this time there is not a way to recycle Styrofoam on campus, but the university continues to search for a solution that is both fiscally and logistically sound and sustainable in regards to recycling this material.

Energy

  • I have been replacing incandescent light bulbs with the more efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) ones. I know they use less energy and have a longer life span, but I was disappointed when found out I should dispose of burned out compact fluorescent bulbs as hazardous waste, due to the fact they contain some mercury. Have I been wrong all this time by going for the more efficient bulbs? Tell me which is the lesser evil?
    According to calculations, a U.S. kilowatt-hour generates .012 milligrams of mercury, through the burning of fossil fuels such as coal. So, a 20-watt CFL running for a lifetime of 10,000 hours would generate ~2.4 mg of mercury, while comparable 75-watt incandescent bulbs running collectively for 10,000 hours (one would not “live” this long), would generate 9.0 mg. Add in the 5 mg of mercury that might reside in a CFL bulb (a high average) and you get a total of 7.4 mg — still less than the incandescent.Therefore, the cost benefit seems to be in favor of the more efficient bulb. An added benefit for the efficient CFL’s is that in Gainesville, they can be recycled (the mercury is reclaimed and the ballast is recycled) by taking them to Georges Hardware, Zells Ace Hardware, or Indigo.
  • My colleagues and I were discussing ways for our department to be more energy efficient. We've heard that dormant appliances still draw energy. What can we do about that?
    Electronic devices obviously draw electricity when in use. Most also draw electricity when not in use. They do this while they wait poised on “standby” or because they have a clock or LED light. Sometimes they do this because their plug is poorly designed.The amount of “phantom” power drawn is amazing. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, around 75 percent of the energy used by our appliances is drawn while we think they are “off.” Typical offenders include computers, peripherals, televisions, and chargers for cell phones or iPods, etc.A quick solution to this financial and sustainability conundrum is plugging electronics into a power strip with an on/off switch. When you are through using the equipment on a strip, you can turn off the strip, which cuts the electricity to the appliances. Of these power strips, I think the most interesting is the SmartStrip. It has multiple outlets: one is the master outlet, and when a piece of equipment plugged into this outlet is turned off, all the connected outlets also shut off power.It’s a lot easier to remember to power down one electronic device, like a desktop computer, than it is to remember to shut off the monitor, printer, scanner, charger cradle, etc.
  • I have noticed that most of the buildings at UF seem to be overly cold due to the use of air conditioning. This seems like a waste, and I am wondering why UF does not turn up the thermostat to save money and energy?
    A large majority of UF buildings are cooled through a very efficient Chilled Water utility produced by UF’s Physical Plant Division (PPD). This system cools the supply air to 55 degrees. Each building is different, but many have a re-heat type system that uses heated piped steam to reheat the air back up to the desired air temperature set for the zone or space.Having a cooler temperature setting actually saves energy by not reheating up the air. However, we must reheat to a minimum level of comfort for all the occupants.Currently, in our humid climate, this is the best way we have of removing the humidity from the air to keep our buildings healthy, and free of mold and mildew. We are continuously trying to improve our systems by increasing comfort and unit efficiency, while still focusing on decreasing energy consumption. PPD can always use feedback from our customers by calling our Work Management Center to report an area that seems to be too cold or too hot at (352) 392-1121; Or click here to submit a work order.
  • I have heard that it uses more energy when you turn fluorescent lights (like those we have in our buildings at UF) off and back on, rather than just leaving them on. Is this true?
    No. This is a common misconception. At one time the technology in lighting was not very advanced, and the energy used to turn the light on in some systems did, in fact, use up a lot of energy, but this is no longer the case. Currently, the trade-off time is only around 10 seconds, so if you are headed out of a classroom or your office, hit the switch.
  • I have noticed that our on-campus lighting still uses older technology that is less energy efficient and less bright, which also means more lights are needed. LED lighting is more energy efficient, brighter, and lasts longer. Why don’t we use LED lighting?
    LED lighting, as well as other lighting systems like induction, metal halide, and fluorescents, have had relatively recent developments in improved efficiency. However, because of the high capital costs of these systems, the number of lights on campus, and other factors, it will take time to transition to newer technologies.
  • What does UF do during the holidays to save energy?
    Physical Plant Division has had a program in place for several years to reduce energy consumption by setting back heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) settings in select buildings when they are unoccupied. UF’s building setback programs are in full effect during the holiday season. Building control systems allow UF to turn off air handlers in the unused areas of buildings to save energy.

Food

  • Where is the organic garden, and how do I get a plot?
    The UF Organic Garden is located on SW 23rd Terrace, about ¼ mile south of Archer Road. The cost of a 12-foot x 25-foot plot is $15 for 6 months, plus initial $35 deposit. Members of the cooperative plant vegetables and flowers of their choice on their plots, and are responsible for up-keep. They are expected to practice organic gardening methods and to participate in 3 community workdays (6 hours total) per 6 month rental.Water, manure, and some seeds are provided, and various tools are available onsite. For more information, and to rent a plot, please e-mail Ginny Campbell, the plot coordinator, at plotcoordinator@gmail.com or call at (352) 378-6103.

Maintenance

  • What is UF doing to change to less toxic cleaning products?
    UF and UF Health use many “green” cleaning products. Many of the products already being used are Green Seal certified. Some of our cleaning equipment, such as our vacuum cleaners, have also been “green certified” by Green Seal.

Paper

  • There are so many choices when selecting a sustainable paper for our office, and I was wondering which component is most critical-certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or recycled content?
    The answer is both. Recycled content paper reduces waste, reduces the need to use trees to create new paper, and the recycling process requires less resources to generate paper.FSC certification is a third-party program that ensures that forests and forest products are managed responsibly from the silviculture practices and harvesting, all the way to paper and wood product production.
  • What types of paper can I recycle?
    UF accepts a wide array of paper for recycling. The basic collection list for paper recyclables on campus includes office paper (basic white and multi-colored paper), copy and notebook paper, junk mail, envelopes (with and without windows), index cards, manila folders and computer paper, newspapers and magazines, soft cover books, pasteboard (i.e., cereal boxes) and corrugated boxes.  An extensive list of acceptable and unacceptable items is available through the Physical Plant Division.Small amounts of shredded paper can be placed inside one of UF’s exterior paper recycling dumpsters, however it is PPD’s official preference (as of 2007) that offices do not do its own shredding.UF also accepts items with both staples and post-it notes. Other paper binding items such as binder clips and paper clips should be removed but can be reused.While cardboard is also a recyclable product at UF, unless it can be compactly placed in an internal collection bin, we recommend that large cardboard boxes be broken down and placed in an outdoor cardboard baler. This simply helps to maximize the space available for newspaper and office paper collected indoors by sending bulkier cardboard items into their larger, designated bins.Pizza boxes however cannot be recycled. Unfortunately, paper products that have held food and liquid products cannot be recycled alongside regular paper products. This is referred to as contamination in the recycling business and applies to all paper products that have come into contact with grease, oils and other residues. During the recycling process, the paper fibers are broken down for reprocessing. When paper is contaminated, the fibers do not separate from the oils and the integrity of the resulting paper product is compromised. Please dispose of these items in trash receptacles.
  • Where can I find the collection bins for paper recycling?
    Paper collection bins are available all across campus. The bins have been strategically placed for maximum accessibility. Bins are often centrally located in all offices, lounges, copy rooms and printing labs. Most of the indoor collection bins are open containers lined with a canvas bag, and marked with the blue recycling logo designating it as a paper collection location.Desk side paper collection bins are an ideal way to siphon used paper from office desks into the recycling bin. Mixed paper can be collected in large paper bags or shallow cardboard containers and emptied into the central collection bin at each individual’s convenience. Desk side collection containers are available for offices and departments through PPD. If your area is interested in securing a quantity for your office space, please contact the PPD’s Recycling and Solid Waste Management at (352) 392-7396 for more information.In addition to indoor collection options, there are many paper bins located outside. These are typically in high traffic areas and alongside most buildings near other trash receptacles. For the map detailing all outdoor paper collection sites, please visit here.
  • How can I make sure confidential material remains secure during the recycling pick-up process?
    Confidential material must be collected separately as there is no guarantee that paper in the general paper recycling bins remains confidential. For personal information, medical information, or anything else that is required by law to remain confidential, UF has a contract with Shred-It for confidential paper collection and shredding.

Purchasing

  • Does UF have a sustainable purchasing policy?
    UF has a Sustainable Procurement Directive through Procurement Services (http://www.purchasing.ufl.edu/departments/directives-procedures.asp#sustainable). The purpose of the policy is to support campus sustainability at the University of Florida and to provide guidelines, information, and resources in procuring products that will minimize negative impacts on society and the environment to the greatest extent practicable.The directive encourages purchasing durable and reusable goods, reducing waste at the point of purchase, and buying products that are environmentally preferable. Specifically, All UF personnel will purchase recycled and environmentally preferable products whenever practicable; UF Departments will purchase hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles; UF will have a recycling container available within a reasonable distance of soda machines and in all dining establishments where canned or bottled drinks are served; and UF should promote the use of recycled and other environmentally preferable products by publicizing its sustainable procurement program. Materials produced for advertising, conferences, trade fairs, press releases, and other communications with clients and citizens can make reference to the University of Florida’s commitment and leadership in the use of recycled and environmentally/socially preferable products.The University Procurement and Disbursements Department will make every effort to secure contracts with vendors that are socially and environmentally conscientious, and certified green whenever practicable.

Transportation

  • How do I sign my department up for the Zipcar Program?
    Visit Zipcar’s UF webpage. The Department will need to sign up for a Departmental Membership with fees waived. Then each driver will need to sign up for a membership using the Departmental account number. Membership for both is free.Individual memberships from the public are converted in part to driving credits. Individuals may sign up for a Departmental and personal membership.
  • Why does UF keep building more parking garages when it says it’s trying to keep cars off the road?
    The UF Campus Master Plan anticipates the addition of about 5,000 new students and 2,000 new employees on the main campus over the next 10 years. Along with this campus growth will be continued growth in visitors and patients, particularly in the areas around the Health Science Center and clinics in the area of the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute building. Currently, the University provides approximately 24,000 parking spaces for its population of 45,000 students, 17,000 employees and untold visitors. Clearly, the ratio of parking supply to demand is quite low and will remain so.To accommodate the transportation access demands of the campus community, the university relies heavily on its very successful partnership with the Regional Transit System that provides universal prepaid transit access for faculty, staff and students. Additionally, the University is continually expanding its support of non-auto travel as demonstrated by its recent collaboration with ZipCar and GreenRide carpool matching. These new programs are in addition to ongoing efforts to encourage and accommodate carpooling, walking and bicycling.For information about UF’s commitment to providing alternatives to single occupancy vehicle (SOV) travel, please visit the Office of Sustainability and Transportation and Parking Services websites.
  • What transportation alternatives are there at UF if I don't want to drive my car?
    UF’s Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) offers a number of alternative transportation options. In addition to simply taking a walk or biking to and around campus, UF offers the RTS bus service, the Carpool program, the Zipcar car-sharing program, and even has an on-campus taxi for faculty and staff. For more information on how you can make the switch to sustainable transport, check out the TAPS website.

Water

  • Why is the irrigation system running in the middle of the day, which is against the watering restrictions set by the St. John’s River Water Management District?
    The University of Florida is under the jurisdiction of the St. John’s River Water Management District and abides by all guidelines mandated regarding water use and permits.Almost 100% of UF’s irrigation water is reclaimed from our on-campus waste water treatment facility. The requirement to water landscapes before 10am and after 4pm water management and only twice a week requirement, applies to potable water resources.Because we, the users of potable water at UF, consume a great deal, the campus creates a great deal of reclaimed water. Our storage capacity for treated water is surpassed by our generation of water that needs to be treated. It’s an unfortunate reality that we can and sometimes need to irrigate at all times of the day and night to distribute the reclaimed water.The sustainability concern is on the front end of this equation. Our laboratories and building users do not treat water as a precious commodity because they do not have to pay for it. Our EH&S staff is trying to work with laboratory users on campus to install water saving devices, but again, there is not a financial incentive for researchers to spend their funds on conservation measures.
  • Why are there broken sprinkler heads on campus?
    The Grounds Department Irrigation is responsible for the maintenance, repair and installation of irrigation systems on the University of Florida main campus as well as surrounding facilities. There are currently over 235 acres of active irrigation on the main campus. The T.R.E.E.O. Center, Whitney Lab at Marineland, and Biotech in Alachua’s Progress Center are some of the outlying facilities maintained by Grounds Irrigation.Very often, irrigation problems have simply not been reported to Grounds. If you spot an irrigation related problem i.e.; broken sprinklers or lines or sprinklers systems running for an excessive amount of time, please contact the Work Management Center at (352) 392-1121 or be clicking here to submit a work order.
  • Is UF using low-flow toilets anywhere on campus?
    The University of Florida takes stewardship of our water resources seriously, as reflected in our commitment to integrating water-saving devices into UF buildings and using reclaimed water for over 98% of irrigation on campus. UF Construction Standards mandate that for all new construction and bathroom renovations toilets and urinals shall be low flow. Low flow toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush while low flow urinals use less than 1 pint of water. These devices can save anywhere from one pint to a few gallons per flush when compared to older models.
  • Is UF using low-flow faucets/aerators to reduce water usage on campus?
    Yes. All new construction and renovation projects install low flow faucets/aerators. Central Stores stocks low flow faucets/aerators for faucet repairs or replacements. Faucet aerators deliver a strong spray, but help to control water consumption. They can be installed by homeowners in all faucets and showerheads to increase spray velocity, while reducing faucet water use by 50 percent. Low-flow showerheads work by mixing air into the water flow (like an aerator), and restricting the flow to increase the water pressure. Shower water use can be reduced 50% with a low-flow showerhead, and can save up to 20,000 gallons of water per year!Believe it or not, UF’s water usage has decreased since 2004. This is due to the ongoing water conservation efforts of Physical Plant Division including requiring low flow fixtures such as faucets, toilets, showers and urinals for all new construction and renovation projects on campus.