Florida’s Ringling College national leader in electric vehicle adoption

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Ryann Lynn

But new renewable energy report shows most Florida colleges lagging

Environment Florida Research & Policy Center

SARASOTA — Ringling College of Art and Design earned a top ranking among colleges and universities across the country in the latest renewable energy report from Environment Florida Research & Policy Center and Florida PIRG Students Education Fund.

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy 2020: Who’s Leading the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy on Campus? ranks campuses nationwide on three key energy sustainability metrics: shifting to renewable electricity; repowering buildings with clean energy; and adopting electric vehicles. Ringling led all other colleges in the latter category. The report shows that more than 40 higher learning institutions currently obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources

“As innovators and educators, institutions of higher learning are natural leaders when it comes to transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Ryann Lynn, clean energy advocate at Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. “College campuses can show the way toward a cleaner, healthier future. As our new report shows, many, including Ringling College, are already doing just that.”

Eighty-five percent of Ringling’s campus-owned vehicles are currently electric. Transportation accounts for the country’s largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions, so transitioning vehicles along with the power grid bring schools close to zero-carbon emissions. 

“We are proud to have earned recognition for our energy reduction efforts,” said Larry R. Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design. “We have made strategic investments over the last several years to reduce our energy consumption, including our recent installation of a chiller plant. Additionally, we strive to achieve LEED-certification on new buildings and were successful in doing so for our Bridge Hall residence facility, opened in 2018. I thank our Sustainability Committee for its efforts to enhance the College’s energy consciousness.”

Beyond the rankings, the report also highlights eight schools that have adopted ambitious renewable energy commitments for the future. While no school in Florida has committed to 100 percent renewable energy, several are working toward becoming the first. Last year, both Florida State University and Florida A&M University had active campaigns pushing for a transition to renewables. The FSU Student Government Association passed a resolution encouraging the school to make a commitment, and while the school has a plan to electrify its entire bus fleet, the administration has not said anything publicly about its overall clean energy goal. 

“I’m hoping that FSU will become the first campus in Florida to commit to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Armani Arellano, a senior at Florida State. “With more than 3,500 students supporting going 100 percent renewable, as well as more than 100 faculty and staff, it’s clear that people are excited by the prospect of a cleaner, healthier future.”

This fall, both Environment Florida Research & Policy Center and the Student PIRGs plan to work with students for transitions to renewable energy at the University of West Florida, University of South Florida, and the University of Central Florida. 

Dozens of colleges and universities in places with a lot less sun have already committed to powering their campuses with renewable energy. We look forward to seeing more Sunshine State schools step up,” said Lynn. “As we feel the worse and worse effects of global warming, it’s up to all of us throughout the state to make sure Florida doesn’t fall behind in the race to 100 percent renewables.”


Environment Florida Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting Florida’s air, water, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help people make their voices heard in local, state, and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.

Florida PIRG Students work on college campuses across the state of Florida to make sure our peers have the skills, opportunities, and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us.