Sustainability Plan: Strategies

Project Planning

For effective planning and meaningful goal setting, the College must identify key metrics for gauging progress toward its long-term sustainability goals. The more detailed the present snapshot of the institution’s operations and impacts, the more insightful the course mapped for its improvement will be.

Data gathering initiatives will be spearheaded by the Facilities Energy & Sustainability Manager with support from the Sustainability Committee and other College departments as necessary. Baselines will be established for energy consumption, water use and material waste, and the Sustainability Committee will identify benchmarks for further progress in these areas once at least 12 months of accurate data have been obtained.

To aid this project and to improve communication, the Committee encourages installation of additional data infrastructure to track performance on these metrics, such as building sub-metering equipment for electricity (kWh), water (Tgal), chilled water supply and return temperatures (BTUs), etc.

The Sustainability Committee will regularly review the goals and strategies outlined in this plan and recommend adjustments or additions to help realize the College’s long-term vision for sustainability. When prioritizing projects and initiatives, the Committee may consider a breadth of social, economic, environmental and pedagogical factors in its decision-making.

A sample scorecard and rubric for evaluating sustainability projects is appended, which includes a framework for assessing a project’s feasibility and its relationship to the four E’s of campus sustainability: Education, Equity, Economics and Environment.

These four E’s expand the concept of the triple bottom line (3BL) (Elkington 1997) for an academic setting, where lifelong learning benefits mutually with responsible social, environmental and economic practices, and these 3BL values support a more comprehensive education and worldview.

Facilities & Operations

For all new construction and major renovations, the Design & Construction Guidelines provided to architects and contractors will stipulate that project designs prioritize sustainability and high building performance. As specified in Florida’s State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF), new campus buildings will be constructed to the standards of a nationally recognized green building system, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system or the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes® program.

Key design priorities for construction and renovation projects include, among other features:

  • Energy use intensity (EUI) of 60 kBtu/ft2 or less
  • High performance building envelopes
  • Daylighting and access to green spaces
  • Energy efficient lighting and technology
  • Occupancy sensors integrated with HVAC and lighting controls, where appropriate
  • Water-efficient fixtures, faucets and shower heads 
  • Water fountains equipped with filtered bottle-refilling stations

The Sustainability Committee will review criteria in the Design & Construction Guidelines periodically and make recommendations as deemed necessary to advance the College’s sustainability practices.

Managing airflow and heat transfer within buildings is paramount for eliminating redundant HVAC functions and minimizing a structure’s total energy demand. To ensure that campus buildings perform as designed, the Facilities department will perform regular assessments of campus interiors, including basic tests for indoor air quality, outside air infiltration, and reliability of weatherization features. 

Thermal survey data may inform maintenance planning and highlight any spaces in need of renovation or recommissioning.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 35% of an average educational facility’s energy usage results from heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) operations (EIA 2012). For many existing facilities, optimizing the performance of the building’s mechanical systems presents the single greatest opportunity for improving energy efficiency (excepting alteration of the structure itself).

For new construction or renovation projects impacting mechanical systems, HVAC equipment will be integrated with a centralized building automation system (BAS). Classrooms, offices, and conference rooms will be equipped with occupancy sensors that communicate with the lighting and HVAC controls to allow equipment to enter standby when spaces are not in use.

The temperature standard for the College specifies that spaces range from 68 °F to 76 °F during occupied hours, with exceptions made for data centers, labs and other facilities that house sensitive materials or equipment. This operating range adheres to the recommendations of the Occupational Safety & Heath Administration (OSHA) and is considered acceptable to 80% of building occupants per ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy.

Through research and system monitoring the Facilities Energy & Sustainability Manager will define further HVAC operating procedures and performance targets within an Energy Management Plan. These guidelines will establish set points for indoor humidity levels, occupied and unoccupied offsets, scheduling templates, and conditions for optimal start and stop of HVAC equipment.

Building Maintenance will schedule regular inspections and routine maintenance of mechanical equipment, define acceptable operating conditions and maintain a record of units that fail to meet these performance criteria. Units will be slated for repair, refurbishment or replacement as necessary.

When lighting fixtures require replacement or where comprehensive renovations are appropriate, the Facilities department will update existing equipment to more energy efficient technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Except where needed for security purposes, indoor lighting should be turned off when interior spaces are not occupied. As facilities are renovated, occupancy sensors will be installed in offices, classrooms and conference rooms. These will be wired into the building lighting and HVAC controls to reduce electrical load in rooms not currently in use.

In accordance with the Florida State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF), building and walkway lighting levels will be maintained at an appropriate luminance to ensure safety during campus operational hours. Exterior lighting schedules will be designed to meet the educational and operational needs of the College while minimizing energy waste, light pollution and trespass.

Following guidance from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), roadway lights and other outdoor fixtures intended for all-night use will be selected to emit light at 3000K or less in order to minimize impacts on human health and nocturnal animal activities. Fixtures should be shielded properly to minimize light trespass.

Conditioning unoccupied spaces wastes energy in redundant HVAC operation, and for colleges, where the majority of classrooms, faculty offices, conference and event spaces are intermittently occupied, deliberate and efficient space utilization can result in major energy and cost savings.

The Sustainability Committee will aid in the creation and implementation of comprehensive Space Management Guidelines, which will assist with efforts to:

  • Survey and update campus space inventories by room type, capacity and equipment
  • Centralize room use data for all operational stakeholders
  • Prioritize space assignments by function and by energy impact
  • Differentiate procedures for variable use scenarios (e.g. regular term, holiday, etc.)
  • Promote best practices for the day-to-day use of common spaces
  • Incorporate space use and energy data into decision-making for all new construction and renovation projects

Computers, office equipment and other appliances account for a significant portion of a building’s energy consumption, so selecting products that meet higher performance standards can contribute to the institution’s reduction goals. Equipment certified under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program is third-party tested to affirm its energy efficiency over conventional alternatives.

The Facilities and Purchasing departments will collaborate on revising procurement guidelines to ensure that new appliances and office equipment are EnergyStar certified. Building Maintenance will partner with Property Management to gauge the energy performance of existing equipment and recommend assets for repair or replacement.

Renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and consume less water than conventional power systems. Distributed generation can also improve grid resilience and energy security (Cox/NREL 2017). However, the upfront capital investment necessary to install such systems can make potential projects infeasible in the short term, even while they save operational costs in the long term.

The Facilities Energy & Sustainability Manager will periodically assess the costs, benefits and feasibility of potential projects to expand renewable energy generation on Seminole State’s campuses. Personnel will research rebates, public and private grants and other financial instruments to support the College’s long-term effort to reduce its reliance on fossil energy.

For future construction and renovation projects, the College will encourage installation of water-efficient plumbing fixtures within its Design & Construction Guidelines. Products achieving WaterSense certification by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be recommended and general fixture requirements will include the following:

  • Faucets will be manually operated with automatic shut-off. Aerators should aim to maintain a flow rate of 1.5 GPM or less.
  • Toilets will be equipped with water-saver flush valves and target a flush volume between 1.0 and 1.3 GPF.
  • Urinals should operate at 0.125 GPF or less.
  • Shower heads should operate at a flow rate of 1.75 GPM or less.

In collaboration with waste management vendors and Custodial Services, the Facilities Energy & Sustainability Manager will pilot programs to measure and track waste generated through College operations, to evaluate these findings, and to make recommendations for establishing actionable waste reduction goals. 

College procedures should prioritize reducing material consumption foremost, with reuse, recovery and recycling employed as secondary measures. Currently campus infrastructure supports recycling of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, mixed cardboard and paper. Within the short term, the College will aim to expand deployment of its mixed stream receptacles and to accumulate data on the efficacy of its present recycling initiatives. 

Waste management programs will be evaluated regularly, streamlined and expanded as necessary to minimize material waste sent to landfill. The Sustainability Committee will analyze available waste data and oversee the long-term implementation of a comprehensive Waste Management Plan, which will outline progressive expansion of the current campus recycling regime and establish targets for achieving zero-waste in campus operations.

Recycling capabilities differ from one municipality to the next based on a variety of factors, including transportation infrastructure and the type of equipment used in processing facilities. Recycling incorrectly—by “contaminating” the recycling stream with trash or with other materials that cannot be recycled—can result in an entire container being disposed of as trash. Thus, if an organization regularly generates a contaminated stream, it fundamentally undermines the economic and environmental purpose of the institution’s waste mitigation program.

To combat contamination of the recycling stream, the College will consider development of an educational program for faculty, staff and students on “Recycling Right.” The program will emphasize the importance of reducing material consumption, highlight current recycling initiatives at the College and clarify what materials are permissible in campus receptacles.


Seminole State College of Florida has already begun the work of building curriculum around sustainability. The College has established an interdisciplinary Sustainability Certificate for first- and second-year undergraduates with course options in fields as diverse as renewable energy, construction, engineering, design, automotive technology, business, public policy, and physical and biological sciences.

Where appropriate to the program of study, Seminole State will continue to develop new courses and training programs related to sustainability, its ethics, science and technologies. However, sustainability can also be infused throughout the curriculum, such that it becomes a theme integral to all courses and programs.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which envision a more equitable, resilient and sustainable world, present a broad scope of social, economic and environmental concerns and touch on a wide range of academic fields of inquiry. These global goals can be used as a lens for investigating how each discipline contributes in its own way toward a sustainable future.

The Sustainability Committee and the Facilities Energy & Sustainability Manger will collaborate with faculty across the College to integrate environmental awareness and responsibility into existing courses and student learning outcomes. Professors will be encouraged to identify thematic links between their course material and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—both within career programs and the Arts & Sciences—and the College will consider providing support to faculty in their work to realize this alignment. The College will formalize these connections and create a forum for sharing lesson plans on discipline-specific sustainability topics and applications.

Campus energy projects, green-built renovations and other sustainability initiatives on campus may also serve the educational mission of the College by providing real-life examples of applied sustainable design and problem-solving.

Where possible the Facilities Energy & Sustainability Manager will work to make project documents and data available to faculty for use as resources in the classroom, both to enhance critical discussion and to serve as templates for hands-on projects and interdisciplinary experiential learning opportunities.

Consequently, as the College progresses toward achieving its sustainability goals, the campus itself will evolve into a living laboratory for sustainable systems thinking, and interdisciplinary and co-curricular learning.

For sustainability to become a part of the College culture it must be highly visible on campus, not merely a topic for occasional lecture and discussion. The physical landscape, whether natural or built, presents an immersive learning opportunity for students, faculty, staff and community members.

Educational displays will be designed to highlight and provide context for sustainability initiatives on campus and to underscore the environmental and economic issues at play. Key topics for explication include a project’s technical details, its impacts on the natural environment, its relation to the campus Sustainability Plan, and its thematic links with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As the institutional culture evolves toward the values of sustainability, Seminole State College of Florida will seek to incorporate sustainability content and principles into all facets of the student experience in the classroom and beyond.

Campus sustainability initiatives should encourage participation from academic departments, student clubs, organizations, and campus services, and welcome feedback and innovative ideas from the student body at large. 

The College will support student-led initiatives that further the institution’s mission and vision for sustainability, such as the formation of a Student Sustainability Council, the establishment of a Sustainability Colloquium, or the development of a new campus program. The Sustainability Committee may help to provide guidance and make recommendations as needed.

Community Engagement

For Seminole State College of Florida to serve as a model for sustainability in the community, the College must take initiative to raise awareness about the principles of sustainable development and encourage community-wide participation. The College should share its goals and document its progress toward achieving them. 

Each new iteration of the Sustainability Plan will be shared through the College website, along with project results to date. The Sustainability Committee will announce its meeting times, locations and agenda in advance and encourage students, faculty and staff to attend and share their ideas. Minutes will be posted regularly.

The Sustainability Committee will collaborate with academic departments and student groups to support community educational and cultural events that highlight current issues in sustainability. The College will further publicize its sustainability initiatives through its Newsroom and social media accounts.

To emphasize that sustainability is an essential feature of Seminole State’s identity and a guiding ethos in its relationships with the broader community and the natural world, the College has committed to “promote sustainability and minimize environmental impacts” as a part of its 2025 Strategic Plan. By reducing waste, curbing emissions, and promoting environmental education and sustainable practices to students and staff, Seminole State hopes to engage community members, to enhance educational outcomes, and to better serve Seminole County and the Central Florida region.  

Among its strategic goals, Seminole State College of Florida endeavors to foster community partnerships that will strengthen its educational programs, enhance its facilities and create new opportunities for its students, employees and community. Through its years of service, the College has amassed a vast network of industry and community partners—both through necessity of its operations and through the impact of its workforce and career training programs.

Where applicable the College will seek to leverage its relationships with local businesses to achieve its goals of modeling sustainable practices and educating its community on the principles and the technologies that support sustainable development. 

Experts from local industry, government and nonprofits can enhance instruction and promote student development through internships and volunteer opportunities; the sponsorship of hands-on projects; the proffering of case studies for classroom discussion; guest lectures or instructional tours; and service on program advisory committees.

Colleges and universities may face unique obstacles and opportunities in their pursuit of sustainability initiatives, but by virtue of their educational charges they hold a surer responsibility to emulate best practices and deliberate planning. Led by its Sustainability Committee, the College will seek out opportunities to collaborate with other institutions of higher education, to share best practices in sustainable operations and the integration of sustainability into curriculum. 

Seminole State College of Florida is a member of the Global Council for Science & the Environment (GCSE) and has contributed to the organization’s Community College Handbook for Sustainability Education & Operations, an iterative journal highlighting case studies on sustainability initiatives in public two-year colleges. The Sustainability Committee recommends that Seminole State College of Florida also join the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and will periodically assess the benefits of participating in other national organizations.

Within the State of Florida, Seminole State College was a founding signatory in Spring 2021 of the Central Florida Higher Education Partnership for Sustainable Development (HEPSD), a regional consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to promoting sustainability on campus, in the classroom and in the broader community. Additionally, faculty and staff from the College have been designated Community Fellows of the Center for Global Economic & Environmental Opportunities (GEEO) at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Within its service area, the College will continue to build on its relationship with Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) and create more connections in the PreK-12 space to educate students of all ages and backgrounds on the principles of resilience and sustainable development.