Recent News

PCGS & Community Partnerships

After the appointment of the first Sustainability & Resilience director, the State of Florida has been focused on Climate Change’s effects on our coastal communities. Patel College of Global Sustainability at USF is involved in this effort through our partnerships with Florida communities.

Manatee County & PCGS faculty and students are entering into a new partnership during this spring semester. Manatee County’s mission statement is to “take leadership in environmental stewardship and encourage on-site renewable energy”. They strive to become a community focused on sustainability.

Dr. Philippidis, the Director of Renewable Energy, and Dr. Ghebremichael, the Director of Sustainable Water, will lead their graduate students in a project which will develop a Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Manatee County’s buildings, facilities, and operations. Eric Caplan, the Energy and Sustainability Division Manager for Manatee County believes that "the project will allow us (Manatee County) to look at ourselves in the mirror and discover the level of GHG’s that we are emitting and how much environmental harm we are in control of as a county.” The purpose of the project is for Manatee County to further understand and be able to make improvements to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. The County hopes to become a more climate intelligent community and to make future decisions based on the results of the Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Dr. Phillippidis’ and Dr. Ghebremichael’s students will be providing the information Manatee County will need to make these decisions.

Dr. Dorsey, Director for Academic Capstone Experience (ACE) internships, and his students will be conducting a Solar Energy Leadership project in partnership with Manatee County. The partnership’s goal is to foster a reduction in the dependency Manatee County has on typical sources of energy. According to Dr. Dorsey, it will allow "students to have exposure and get a chance to learn about real problems. Also, it gives them an opportunity for internships and future employment.” The research will be conducted to understand if Manatee County’s goal of having all publicly owned buildings become net-zero is economically feasible and viable. Among the research project’s tasks, Dr. Dorsey’s students will evaluate the county’s electricity consumption, review potential locations for solar energy production, and conduct an assessment on staff and funding.

Dr. Heather Rothrock, Director of Sustainability Policy and her students will be creating an Environmental Review Technical Manual for Manatee County Build and Development Services. The technical manual will be a critical guide that provides the protocol for the environmental review. It will facilitate the changes Manatee County would like to implement.
PCGS partnerships with Manatee County will further help them to reach their sustainability goal of taking leadership in environmental stewardship. The exchange between the two will foster the growth of PCGS students through these hands-on experiences.

Last spring, PCGS faculty, and students consulted with the City of Dunedin to conduct sustainability assessments in the areas of renewable energy and water. Recommendations were present to City commissioners in a meeting in May 2019. (

In addition to previous work conducted with Pinellas County, another PCGS climate change project is ongoing with the City of Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County. The partnership was formed last fall with Dr. Brooke Hansen, Director of Sustainable Tourism and her students. The teams worked to assess the known effects of the flooding that has been taking place in Tarpon. Surveys and interviews were conducted with local businesses, city departments, and community members. Student teams assessed the survey results and presented the City Council with their recommendations. As a part of their sustainability project, students were tasked to put together material for community outreach and education. In coordination with the city’s newly established sustainability council, PCGS will continue its partnership to help Tarpon Springs further its sustainability goals.

The State of Florida is continuing to take climate change as a serious issue and communities are starting efforts in order to combat it. The Patel College of Global Sustainability will continue partnering with local communities in order to combat this global issue.