Students Serve as Sustainability Consultants for Straz Center

Feb 11, 2015, From Patel College of Global Sustainability:

The Sustany® Sustainable Business Program was developed by the Sustany® Foundation in 2012 to help local businesses realize the value of adopting sustainable business practices.

On January 28th, 2015, students from the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability and USF School of Geosciences started the first leg of a 12-week internship to assess sustainability practices at the Straz Center as part of the Sustany® Sustainable Business Program (SSBP).

The SSBP, established by the Sustany® Foundation in 2012, was developed to help local businesses realize the value of adopting sustainable business practices while concurrently allowing college students to gain real world experience as sustainable consultants.

In 2014, the SSBP matched student sustainability specialists with a single organization, leading 10 businesses in the Tampa Downtown Partnership district to be designated as City of Tampa Green Businesses. This year, the format has altered slightly to allow nine students to work together in teams in order to assist a single, large organization.

The Straz Center, the second largest performing arts complex in the southeastern region, was selected in order to further sustainably-focused research specific to high-traffic venues such as energy efficiency, waste management, environmental impact, and understanding the supporting data.

Janet Hall, founder of Hall Sustainability Consulting LLC and member of the Sustany® Foundation Board of Directors, led the internship orientation.

“I am excited to be able to work with another group of amazing students from USF, and provide them with real-world work experience in sustainable business practices,” said Janet Hall. “We’ll not only be looking at the challenges inherent to a high traffic venue, like the physical design of the building, lighting aesthetics and waste management, but also how to communicate this community-wide in order to have a positive impact on everyone who engages with The Straz. A Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) will be written that includes the economic, environmental and social impact of student-recommended suggestions for creating a Sustainable Straz.”

The orientation, which included a total of 9 student sustainability specialists, began with an external tour of the Straz Center followed by an initial meeting with Tom Wright, Facilities Director of the Straz to discuss improving recycling practices.

The students will work in teams to evaluate the Straz Center within three main categories: data, waste, and energy/lighting. They will track historical and current performance and calculate future savings for proposed initiatives with a focus on operational cost and impact on Straz and the surrounding community.

Initial ideas for improving the Straz’s sustainability practices include: updated energy efficient lighting, composting food waste, collaborating with the Broadway Green Alliance, and investigating building certifications like ENERGY STAR and LEED for Existing Buildings

Participating Patel students include: Trista Brophy, Yara Watson, Ericka Leigh McThenia, Adit Patel, Barbra Anderson, Steffanie Agerkop, Carmen Garcia, and Bianca Cassouto. Greg Whitener also participates in the program and is currently studying at the USF School of Geosciences.