Greening our campus

From recycling, composting and a community garden to environmentally friendly construction and native plant landscaping, New College is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

From recycling, composting and a community garden to environmentally friendly construction and native plant landscaping, New College is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. One of the ways we green our campus is through the dedicated Green Fee.

What is the New College Green Fee?

It is a small fee paid by each student, providing about $28,000 each year for sustainable projects on campus. The best part? It’s student-funded, so it’s student-run. Have a good idea to make New College a more sustainable place? Then you can submit a Green Fee proposal and see your idea come to fruition. The Green Fee is administered by the Council for Green Affairs (CGA), a part of New College’s student government. The CGA allocates funds at the beginning of every spring semester.

Council for Green Affairs (CGA)

The CGA meets regularly and is open to any students interested in helping make New College a more sustainable campus. Students work together on a variety of projects such as the community garden and compost system, and coordinate campus events such as Food Security Fair. In spring 2012, the CGA funded the first student projects: a compost overhaul and a bike-sharing program.

LEED-Certified, Environmentally Friendly Buildings

New College’s new wing of the Heiser Natural Sciences Complex was given a Gold LEED certification in 2018 by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system promoting sustainable building and development practices through a rating system that promotes better environmental and health performance.

Our Academic Center was awarded Gold LEED certification in 2011 for a number of sustainable features:

  • Special CO2 room sensors measure air quality and adjust the A/C system accordingly.
  • The A/C system uses refrigerants that minimize damage to the ozone.
  • High-efficiency windows, deep roof overhangs and louvered shutters block solar heat and glare, while letting in natural light and allowing for cross ventilation.
  • Pavers and high-reflective roofing materials reflect sunshine.
  • Specially designed tanks built-in under the adjoining Koski Plaza collect stormwater.
  • Toilets flush using residual rainwater from the roof and A/C condensate. The rainwater is collected in an underwater cistern.
  • During construction, more than 85 percent of construction site debris was recycled, and regional building materials were used, which reduced transportation costs and associated pollution.

Five residence halls opened in 2007 also adhere to LEED requirements. They feature flat and gabled roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows in their common areas to make good use of Florida’s abundant year-round sunshine.

Tree Campus USA designation

New College earned Tree Campus USA recognition in 2018. This designation by the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes college and university campuses that:

  • Effectively manage their campus trees.
  • Develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders to foster healthy, urban forests.
  • Strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities centered on campus, and community, forestry efforts.
  • Colleges and universities across the United States can be recognized as a Tree Campus USA college by meeting five standards developed to promote healthy trees and student involvement.

Membership in The EcoLeague

New College is a member of the EcoLeague, a consortium of liberal arts colleges dedicated to ecologically focused education, and to modeling sustainability through their operations and facilities. They span the United States and offer students exchange opportunities to learn in diverse ecosystems and communities with faculty who have a wide range of disciplinary and regional expertise.

These opportunities are essential for students who are preparing to live and work in a global and interconnected world. Launched in 2003, the EcoLeague consortium is currently comprised of 6 member colleges including Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska; College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine; Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida; Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin; and Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. While modeling sustainability through programs and facilities may be commonplace in today’s world, many EcoLeague colleges chose this path years ago and became national leaders in environmental and sustainability issues.

Restoring the Seawall and Habitat

The Charles Ringling mansion and its gravity seawall, constructed in 1925-26, weathered tides and storms for 85 years until the seawall was on the verge of collapse. With funding from the State of Florida, the old seawall was replaced in 2012 to restore the aesthetic of the Ringling Historic District but with more modern materials. In addition to the beautiful balustrade along Sarasota Bay, the restoration includes an intertidal lagoon with a sloping shoreline and additional intertidal habitat, providing New College students and K-12 students who visit our campus better access to studying the natural environment.

Reintroducing Native Plants

As part of the Campus Master Plan, New College has removed exotic invasive grasses and replaced them with native Florida ground covers that reduce the expense and carbon footprint of mowing and create a more diverse and natural landscape in the center of campus. Project funding was provided by the New College Foundation thanks to a generous gift from Phyllis Collins.

Bee Apiary

Students, faculty and supporters gathered in May 2018 for the unveiling of 10 beehive boxes, the foundation of a New College apiary. Students from the biology and arts programs – and kids from the College’s Child Care Center – teamed up to paint the boxes with colorful designs. Emily Saarinen, associate professor of biology and environmental studies, sponsored a Pollination Club and Pollination Ecology Tutorial, which spawned an independent study project. The hives sit on the northern side of the Caples campus, near the Environmental Studies program offices.

Post-Landfill Action Network Member Campus

In 2015, students worked to bring New College into the Post-Landfill Action Network, a consortium of campuses across the country dedicated to work toward reducing the waste they produce.

New College of Florida Food Forest/Carbon Farm

Students worked throughout the 2015-2016 school year to plant a Food Forest/Carbon Farm on the Caples Campus. It was officially planted on May 20, 2016, with over 50 different species of fruiting trees, edible greens, wildflowers, starch crops and spices. The Food Forest/Carbon Farm represents New College’s commitment to finding innovative solutions to tough issues, as the Food Forest provides food for the campus, provides habitat for wildlife increasing local biodiversity and pollinators, facilitates study in a range of academic disciplines ranging from ecology to anthropology, all while sequestering excess carbon from the atmosphere to help mitigate climate change. Updates on the food forest can be found on its Facebook page.