Photo by Jason Jones

The picturesque Rollins campus is as breathtaking to first-time campus visitors today as it was to the founders who stepped off the train in Winter Park more than 125 years ago to inspect the lakeside location proposed for Florida’s first college. While the campus has experienced growth and transformation along its road to recognition as one of the country’s top liberal arts colleges, one goal has remained consistent: providing a quality education in a landscape that will continue to flourish for future generations. In that vein, the College recently completed a series of projects aimed at preserving the physical and natural beauty of the campus.

Rex Beach

This summer, 53-year-old Rex Beach Hall, named for the famous novelist and Class of 1897 Rollins alumnus, underwent a complete overhaul aimed at sustainability. The residence hall now features low-flow showerheads, waterless urinals, LED lighting throughout, and tinted thermal-pane windows. Occupancy sensors ensure resources are not needlessly wasted on empty spaces, resetting thermostats and disabling heating and air conditioning during break points. Rooftop solar panels harness the power of the sun to produce domestic hot water for showers. In addition. the landscape surrounding Rex Beach has been enhanced with native-plant species that require little to no irrigation after establishment.

Mowbray House

Five EcoRollins students and sustainability coordinators spent their summer preparing the 2,800-square-foot Mowbray Sustainability House for a sustainable fall semester. The students removed and recycled the cement driveway and metal fencing surrounding the backyard and prepared gardening space for edible organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, and medicinal plants. They installed a composting area and rain-collection barrels, set up a “worm hostel” for castings and tea, changed out all lightbulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), and painted the house inside and out with VOC-free paint.

Sustainability Report Card

Rollins received an overall grade of B+ from the Sustainable Endowments Institute in its College Sustainability Report Card 2011. Improving by a full letter grade from last year, Rollins received A’s in the Food & Recycling, Student Involvement, and Investment Priorities categories. In the Food & Recycling category, Rollins earned the following citation: “Rollins spends 55 percent of its food budget on local items. The College purchases hormone- and antibiotic-free milk, chicken, and beef, as well as some confinement-free poultry items. Sustainable fisheries guidelines inform seafood purchases, and vegan options are offered at each meal. Traditional materials and electronics are collected for recycling, and excess food is donated to a local food bank.” To view the full report, visit

Bicycle Program

Last fall, Rollins implemented a new “bicycle library” program enabling students, faculty, and staff to borrow bicycles to run errands, go to class, or take leisurely rides around Winter Park. Available for checkout for up to three days at a time at the Olin Library circulation desk, the 12 available bicycles were signed out a total 372 times in the program’s first year. This past fall, first-year students were encouraged to use them during orientation for bike tours through surrounding communities, including Winter Park, Baldwin Park, and the Genius Reserve.

Tree Canopy

The trees that dot the 200-acre Rollins campus not only frame the campus landscape, but also provide much-needed shade during the hot Florida summers. To ensure a lasting tree canopy, Rollins regularly monitors the health of all trees, removing those that are dead or in severe decline and replacing them with new ones. As part of this effort, last summer Rollins removed two laurel oaks and planted a total of 64 new trees, including live oak, bald cypress, sabal palm, chickasaw plum, winged elm, and magnolia.

Photo by Jason Jones