Green Gator of the Month: Harold Knowles

December 2022

Written by Sustainable UF intern Aleisha Palmer

Each month, the Office of Sustainability will feature members of the University of Florida community that are making a sustainable impact on a daily basis. Keep reading to meet our featured faculty Green Gator for December!

Meet Dr. Harold “Hal” Knowles

Dr. Harold Knowles, Instructional Assistant Professor in the UF Sustainability and the Built Environment.

This month’s Green Gator is a valued member of the UF community, Dr. Knowles.

He got his B.S. in Construction Management and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Ecology all at UF. He has also worked in a variety of positions at the university over the last 20 years!

For the first 16 of those years, he focused primarily on green building and sustainability at the lot and neighborhood scale through the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension. The last few years have been spent in the UF/DCP Program in Sustainability and the Built Environment as an Instructional Assistant Professor.

Mentorship Along The Way

Dr. Knowles initially got involved in sustainability after taking Dr. Charles Kibert’s International Sustainable Development course during his undergraduate studies at UF.

At that time in the mid-1990s, sustainability awareness was not quite at the level we have reached today. The role of a mentor like Dr. Kibert was pivotal in shaping Dr. Knowles’ interests as well as opening the eyes of many others about sustainable development initiatives. 

Knowles recalls, “Dr. Kibert was one of those life-changing mentors. Once I met him, I knew my career trajectory would never be the same, and [it] would always be focused on something related to sustainability.”

Contributions Across Campus

Dr. Knowles has contributed in a handful of meaningful ways to sustainability at UF. He is most proud of his work on stormwater low-impact development (LID), green infrastructure best practices, and the My Florida Home Energy website. Additionally, he wrote, deployed, and developed the Sustainability and the Built Environment website.

He is also incredibly proud of all of the graduates of the Sustainability and the Built Environment program since he has the opportunity to teach and mentor them on their path toward their professional lives.

Dr. Knowles credits Dr. Pierce Jones (UF/IFAS Program in Resource Efficient Communities) for offering guidance and generosity that helped him go on to accomplish as much as he has in his career.

Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle

Dr. Knowles strives to implement sustainability in his personal life as much as he can. A great example of his efforts includes the journey of the first house he and his wife purchased. That house was located within walking distance of retail and mobility services they would frequent. Additionally, they improved the energy efficiency and water conservation of the structure while they lived there. 

Alongside the improvements on their home, the couple integrated biking, busing, and sharing a vehicle into their daily life. Even after having two children, sustainable adjustments were made. Adjustments included finding ways to bike with the children, replacing their old car with a battery-electric car, and adding a hybrid.

Dr. Knowles and his family compost in their yard, and most notably, they, “simply do our best to live a life of meaning and purpose, while honoring the life-supporting roles the Earth and its other life forms provide for humanity.”

In everything that he does, he remembers that sustainability has no beginning nor an end, and everything is connected. The knowledge that tomorrow’s solutions can be found within today’s problems, motivates Dr. Knowles to partake in this constant evolution known as sustainability.

Submit your recommendation for a student, faculty, or staff member to be featured in a future Green Gator of the Month article!

Published: December 15th, 2022

Category: Green Gator of the Month, Highlights, News