Sustainability on Campus

Dive into initiatives across campus

Check out our new video!

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.

Buildings & Energy

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

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.


Students, faculty, staff, and community members are able to tour UCF sustainability sites by requesting sustainability tours here.


Garage B Solar

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.

Garage B is UCF’s largest solar array.


Floating Solar

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.

solar pond
This five-kilowatt “floatovoltaic” system currently floats on a UCF retention pond, feeding into the campus power grid.


Solar-Powered Charging Station 

Located in the D1 lot near Memory Mall, this carport harnesses solar energy, producing electricity to charge electric and hybrid vehicles.

vehicle charge
The solar charging station provides four parking spots, each with its own vehicle charging outlet.

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.

  • 16 LEED Gold buildings
  • 5 LEED Silver buildings
Global UCF is one one of the university’s newest LEED certified buildings. Visit the Open Energy Information System (OEIS) to track energy and water consumption and production, as well as upcoming building projects.

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.

UCF’s CHP received recognition from the Clean Air Awards in 2015, and saves the university up to two million dollars each year on power.

Food & Dining

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.

Dining Halls

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.

Vegan Kitchen
The global food system is the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing meat and dairy consumption and exploring plant-based recipes can be a delicious way to reduce your carbon footprint. Both UCF dining hall locations have plant-based stations to enjoy.


Reusable Mug Discounts

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.

Note: this reusable mug discount is only available at UCF Starbucks location within Barnes & Noble.


Smoothie King Switches to Recyclable Plastic

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.

For more information visit Smoothie King.

Community Garden

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.

Organic Garden
For the full volunteer shift schedule visit UCF Arboretum.



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%.

Students can participate in planting and harvesting workshops throughout the year. For workshop information visit WHPS.


Fleet Farming

Fleet Farming is an urban agriculture program in the Orlando area with the goal of transforming underutilized land into micro-farms. In 2017, Fleet Farming implemented their first “farmlette” on UCF campus near the Student Union.
Fleet Farming
To get involved visit Fleet Farming.

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.

To view the items in high demand list, host a food drive, or learn about other ways to get involved visit Knights Pantry.

Natural Lands

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.

Prescribed Burning

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.

In 2018, UCF’s urban forestry team received recognition form the Florida Urban Forestry Council.


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.

cutest gopher tortoise picture ever
Gopher Tortoise burrows provide habitat to more than 350 different types of species, making them a keystone species.

Tree Campus

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.

In 2017, UCF trees sequestered about 97 tons of carbon. This not only helps to mitigate climate change, but also supports UCF climate action goals.

Nature Trails

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.

Climate Action Plan
UCF students walking on the Cypress Trail (0.71 miles), which encircles a cypress dome.


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.

Members of I.D.E.A.S (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions) cleaning up Lake IDEAS.


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.

Between Campuses

Roundtrip routes are available to the Rosen and Health Sciences campuses. A Downtown Orlando route is coming soon!

Grocery Shuttle

This shuttle travels from campus to Publix Supermarket every Tuesday.

Park and Ride

Avoid wasting time (and emissions) searching for parking! This shuttle travels from parking lot E4 to UCF campus during peak hours Monday- Thursday.

UCF and Lynx

Students, Faculty, and Staff can travel on Central Florida Lynx busses for free with a valid UCF ID.

To track shuttles in real time use the UCF app or use the shuttle tracker.


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.

  • Three are located at parking lot B9 across from the Recreation & Wellness Center
  • Two are located on West Plaza Drive across from Garage F
  • Two are located in parking lot H4
  • Two are located in lot B8 closest to the Recreation & Wellness Center
For more information, visit UCF Zipcar.



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.

To join the Zimride network, visit UCF Zimride and sign up with your UCF email.


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:

  • The Student Union
  • Recreation and Wellness Center
  • RWC @ Knights Plaza
  • Lake Claire Apartments
IDEAS had a group bike ride around Gemini Blvd on 10/13/2014.
For more information, visit UCF Bike Share.

Bike Repair

Located in the Student Union, UCF Bike Repair provides free bike repair services for students with bike problems.

Services included:

  • Inflate tires
  • Change tubes
  • Brake adjustments
  • Tighten crankset
  • Loose handlebars
  • Adjust gears
  • Brake cable installation
bikes at ucf
For more information visit UCF Bike Repair.


Bike Safety

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.

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Know your rights and responsibilities as bicylist. Obey all traffic rules and signs.
  • Keep your bike in good mechanical shape. Check your tires, chain, and brakes regularly.
  • Ride with traffic on the right side of the road (not against traffic).
  • For night riding, equip your bike with a headlight, taillight, and reflectors.
  • Ride as far to the right as is practical, but beware of debris and uneven pavement.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line. Do not weave in and out of parked cars.
  • Be aware of all vehicles around you whether moving or parked.
  • Ride in a single file when traveling in groups.
  • Be especially cautious when riding through intersections.
A complete list of bike safety tips can be found here.

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:

  • Parking lot D1 (Memory Mall)
  • Parking lot B6 (Visitor Information Center)
  • Parking lot B1 (Across from teaching academy)
  • Parking garage A (first level near elevators)
  • Parking garage D (4th level)
Electric Car
Students examine a Tesla Model S at UCF’s annual  Electric Vehicle Display every September.


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.

ucf recycles
Visit UCF Recycles to learn more about what materials can be recycled at UCF.

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:

Orange County Landfills- Electronic Recycling

Best Buy- Electronic Recycling

Staples- Electronic Recycling


Note: There is an independent process for electronic recycling for UCF owned electronics.
Visit UCF Surplus for more information.


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.

Water Refill Stations

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.

Water Refill
The water refill stations keep a running count of refilled bottles, allowing users to keep track of reduced waste impacts.



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.

reflection pond
The newly renovated reflection pond uses high efficient premium motors which reduce electrical consumption by 21% each year. It’s reduced backwash cycles have also reduced water consumption by 99%.



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:

  • Low-flow shower heads (2.5 gallons per minute flow rate)
  • Low-flush toilets (1.8 gallons per minute flow rate)
  • Reclaimed water for all housing irrigation
Campus Housing Hercules
The Neptune housing community at UCF utilizes geothermal energy to cool buildings-providing an energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost effective conditioning system on campus.

Chilled Water Plant

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 2017, UCF began using reclaimed water in cooling towers at the chilled water plant. The university plans to expand this initiative in order to further reduce the use of potable water on campus.

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.

Seasonal schedules and rainfall patterns are used to regulate how much water is needed for campus irrigation.

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.

Reflective water
At UCF there are over 10 stormwater ponds. These ponds are strategically built alongside development as a means of flood control.