Florida State names first director of campus sustainability

Elizabeth Swiman

For well over a decade, The Florida State University has implemented campuswide efforts to manage its resources in a more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly manner. Those have included establishing recycling stations, energy-reduction programs and changes in construction methods.

Signifying that this is a major goal, the university has hired its first full-time advocate for all things “green” — a director of campus sustainability.

Elizabeth Swiman will assume her new role as head of the FSU Sustainable Campus Initiative. Since 2007, Swiman has worked as a community engagement coordinator for FSU’s Center for Leadership and Civic Education while also serving on the Sustainable Campus Committee, a group of dedicated volunteers who represent students, faculty and staff members.

“Florida State has been taking serious steps to conserve resources since at least the mid-1990s,” said John Carnaghi, the university’s senior vice president for Finance and Administration. “The creation of the position of director of campus sustainability is an important aspect of our ongoing efforts. We are thrilled to have Elizabeth Swiman serve in this capacity. She will further focus our many programs and initiatives, which include virtually every aspect of the university.”

Swiman was named to the newly created position after a nationwide search was recently concluded.

“This position will give Florida State’s sustainability efforts and initiatives an important voice that will help continue and improve our current programs and better plan for our future goals,” she said. “With this official position, I will be better able to participate in campuswide conversations and have more input on decisions that affect conservation and sustainability at Florida State.

“Ideally, I would like to look at sustainability across campus from operations through curriculum, but that definitely will take some time,” Swiman said. “I think overall everyone is very supportive of our efforts, and we are constantly working to improve our programs.”
Ongoing initiatives developed by the Sustainable Campus Initiative include:

  • The Garnet and Gold Goes Green Recycling Program, which provides football fans with the opportunity to recycle their beverage containers in order to decrease the large amounts of waste and litter surrounding Doak Campbell Stadium;
  • Eco Reps, a group of organized, committed student volunteers charged with increasing sustainable behaviors on campus through peer-to-peer outreach and leadership;
  • Phantom Slayer, an energy conservation competition for residence halls that aims to raise awareness about “phantom loads” — the electric power consumed by appliances when they are switched off or placed on stand-by; and
  • Chuck It for Charity, an annual collection drive held during Finals Week each spring that accepts all manner of reusable “stuff” that gets thrown out as students living in residence halls pack up and leave for the summer.

Swiman said she looks forward to developing a strategic plan in the coming months for Florida State’s sustainability efforts using STARS (Sustainability Tracking Rating & Assessment System), a comprehensive self-reporting framework created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education that enables colleges and universities to gauge their relative progress toward sustainability.

“Because information related to sustainability efforts is spread around campus, STARS provides a means for compiling it and using it to create an overall picture of what a campuswide sustainability plan should have,” Swiman said. “It enables us to look at all aspects of our campus — operations and facilities, student engagement, human resources, and policies regarding licensing, among other things.

“STARS also allows us to compare ourselves to our sister institutions,” she said. “This will result in the sharing of best practices, as well as creating incentives for continual improvement.”

Visit sustainablecampus.fsu.edu for more information on sustainability efforts at Florida State.