In this video, we highlight our three UCF sustainable goals: to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, become a zero waste campus, and integrate sustainability across all disciplines.
As UCF grows, the university continues to investigate new methods to reduce resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Technological advancements in renewable energy, natural gas, and high-performance buildings have played an integral role in improving existing infrastructure and building to the latest standards of efficiency.
Solar thermal panels absorb energy from the sun to generate low cost, low emission, thermal energy. The energy is then harnessed to heat water or generate electricity indirectly. The solar thermal panels on the Global UCF and Towers at Knight Plaza buildings heat water for building occupants.
UCF installed its first photovoltaic system in 2012. This 107-kilowatt solar array feeds into the grid, generating more than enough power to serve Garage B. The resulting impact is both a reduction in campus utility expenditures and emissions.
In 2016, Sustainability Initiatives partnered with a group of graduating mechanical engineering students to build a 20-panel floating solar array. Initial results demonstrated a moderate increase in panel efficiency compared to a ground-mounted array.
Located in the D1 lot near Memory Mall, this carport harnesses solar energy, producing electricity to charge electric and hybrid vehicles.
The University of Central Florida mandates that all new construction projects and major renovations be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified. LEED buildings optimize efficiency and use about 30% less energy and 40% less water than their comparable counterparts. UCF currently has 21 buildings with LEED certification.
UCF’s Combined Heat & Power Plant (CHP) uses an 18-cylinder natural gas reciprocating engine coupled to a 5.5-megawatt generator to provide a third of campus power needs. The CHP also uses waste heat to cool buildings.
While natural gas is not a renewable energy source, it plays an essential role in the transition to a dynamic and low-carbon utility portfolio. The onsite production and efficiency measures have reduced annual emissions by 15 percent.
Departments and community partners are working together to provide sustainable and healthy dining options for the campus population. Students also have a variety of opportunities to learn about sustainable agriculture, cooking, and nutrition.
UCF dining services is committed to improving their sustainability operations through it’s Green Thread initiative. Here, a special emphasis is placed on responsible sourcing, waste minimization, efficient operations, and transportation management. UCF dining halls also feature tray-less dining and portion control.
Students, faculty, and staff receive a discount price of 96 cents on hot coffee or hot tea when they bring their own mug to Starbucks. The initiative was implemented to reduce waste and eliminate the harmful effects of single use items.
Smoothie King has ditched their old polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups and has replaced them with a newer better option: recyclable plastic.
Remember, polystyrene is not recyclable on campus. To prevent recycling contamination, check with your local waste provider before placing polystyrene materials in your home recycling bin.
Since forming in 2009, this predominately student-run garden has produced crops for the UCF community. Students can volunteer, learn to grow their own food, and take home hyper-locally grown produce at the end of shifts. In 2018, the Arboretum drew 973 volunteers who collectively donated 8,690 hours of their time.
Hydroponic Tower Gardens
These hydroponic tower gardens can be found all over campus and are maintained by Wellness & Health Promotional Services. These gardens not only produce a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, but also maximize water efficiency by over 80%.
Knights Pantry was formed as a grassroots initiative in 2009 with the goal of providing necessities to UCF students in need. Today, it is supported with donations from Lucky’s Market, the UCF Arboretum, Publix, Second Harvest food bank, fellow UCF students, and more. Students with a valid ID can pick up 5 food items a day. There is no limit on toiletries or clothing items.
Central Florida is a region characterized by its distinctive natural wildlife, plant species, and freshwater wetland habitats. These diverse ecosystems, often adjacent to areas of dense human development, have created a mosaic of contrasting environments completely unique to the area. Nestled at the heart of all this lies the University of Central Florida, a campus that cherishes and protects over 800 acres of conservation lands.
UCF’s urban forestry team periodically conducts prescribed burns on natural lands in order to open up mid-story vegetation, remove invasive species, and reduce the risk of future wildfires through fuel reduction.
Despite its proximity to urbanization, UCF’s natural lands have made impressive strides in biodiversity. These ecosystems provide habitats to gopher tortoises, hawks, osprey, deer, songbirds, and even black bears.
UCF’s urban tree canopy provides a variety of services, including wildlife habitats, water filtration, recreation, and carbon sequestration (a process in which trees release oxygen and store atmospheric carbon). The trees also reduce the campus’s urban heat island effect.
Visitors can traverse a variety of nature trails on campus and explore different flatwood ecosystems unique to the central Florida region. Here, plants and animals can be observed in their natural environments. For more information on nature trails visit Landscape & Natural Resources.
Formed in 2008, the Adopt-a-Pond/Road program focuses on the care and maintenance of UCF retention ponds and campus roads. Groups and organizations maintain these areas by doing regular cleanups.
For more information on the adopt a program visit UCF Arboretum.
The University of Central Florida supports one of the biggest student populations in the nation. Yet this exceptionally large community comes with its own challenges, especially concerning commuting. Single occupancy vehicles contribute to traffic congestion, limited parking, and increased carbon emissions. By providing alternative transportation options, UCF continues to provide resources that are both affordable and sustainable.
For more information and up to date routes and schedules visit UCF Parking & Transportation.
The Pegasus Express line consists of four ADA compliant buses that circle the UCF campus clockwise.
UCF provides fifteen shuttle routes that travel to 22 off-campus apartment complexes.
Roundtrip routes are available to the Rosen and Health Sciences campuses. A Downtown Orlando route is coming soon!
This shuttle travels from campus to Publix Supermarket every Tuesday.
Avoid wasting time (and emissions) searching for parking! This shuttle travels from parking lot E4 to UCF campus during peak hours Monday- Thursday.
Students, Faculty, and Staff can travel on Central Florida Lynx busses for free with a valid UCF ID.
This car sharing initiative allows members to rent cars on campus for a fee. UCF currently has seven Zipcar vehicles and reserved parking spaces at the following locations.
Zimride is a private, mobile-friendly ridesharing network that allows users to share seats or catch a ride in the UCF area. Zimride is available to faculty, staff and students.
UCF makes biking possible for all students through its bike share program—an efficient, sustainable, and free means of transportation. With a valid UCF ID card, students can rent bicycles, locks, helmets, and lights from any of the following four central locations:
Located in the Student Union, UCF Bike Repair provides free bike repair services for students with bike problems.
In 2017, UCF was awarded bronze for bike friendliness on campus. Still, as UCF continues to implement safer bike infrastructure, it is important for bicyclists to practice bike safety and awareness.
UCF Parking and Transportation has 15 designated Electric Vehicle parking spots. Vehicles are permitted to charge for a maximum of four hours, and must display a valid UCF parking permit. EV parking spots can be found at the following locations:
UCF is striving to be a zero waste campus. To reach this goal, we are working with UCF Recycling Services to implement comprehensive waste reduction programs on campus. Current initiatives yield a recycling rate of about 35%, diverting almost 800 tons of materials from landfills each year.
UCF currently utilizes single stream recycling; all recyclable materials can be placed in a single bin and are sorted later on at recycling facilities. This has not only increased recycling rates campus wide, but has also made recycling more convenient for the UCF population.
Electronics contain a variety of harmful, and in some cases even toxic substances. When these items are discarded in landfills they not only pose risks to our health, but also to our environment. Batteries and Ink Cartridges are recycled internally at UCF, and are accepted by Technology Commons.
For personal electronic recycling please use the following resources:
Water is one of the most important resources on our planet. We’re made of it, we’re surrounded by it, and we consume it. Water is a necessity of life. Therefore, the University of Central Florida is committed to conserving and protecting water in all of its forms.
Filtered water refill stations can be found all across the UCF campus, providing a convenient and sustainable alternative to single use plastic bottles. UCF plans to expand these refill stations to more high traffic areas on campus.
UCF’s Utility and Energy Services (UES) handles the production, transmission, storage, and distribution of 800,000 gallons of water on UCF’s main campus each day. As a university, UCF has decreased potable water consumption by 21% since 2008, and will continue to adhere to best efficiency practices in order to conserve waster resources.
The University of Central Florida has implemented low flow technology at all of it’s on campus housing communities to help reduce potable water consumption. Initiatives include:
The University of Central Florida continues to expand cooling infrastructure through its chilled water initiatives. These centrally located chilled power plants use waste heat produced by the Combined Heat and Power Plant to deliver chilled water to buildings.
In Florida, the irrigation of lawns and landscapes is responsible for the largest use of water from municipal suppliers. To curb this reliance on potable water, UCF uses 100% reclaimed water to irrigate campus landscapes.
In order to combat stormwater runoff, UCF builds stormwater ponds to help collect and filter out water impurities. The water then trickles into the Econolackhatchee River before being emptied into the St. Johns River.