On Campus - Life on Land

As the state of Florida’s University of Distinction in Environmental Resilience, Florida International University has led research and advocacy initiatives for Life On Land for decades. With a campus located at the edge of the Florida Everglades, we also recognize the need for living and working sustainably as a university community. 

Finding innovative ways to better protect people and the planet is a core function of how we live, work and play. FIU’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety is charged with ensuring university compliance with regulations, statutes, guidance and best management practices for environmental protection. The university’s current Environmental Management Policy was first implemented in 2006 and most recently updated in 2021

Students in the dining hall

Sustainable Dining

FIU Panther Dining’s sustainability initiatives focus on reduction. Our approach is to bring awareness and education and implement best practices for waste management, water conservation, energy efficiency and pollution control. Panther Dining focuses on serving local produce and other local products. Our local produce partners are featured in our locations, and Panther Dining coordinates tours to farms to connect the university community with their local farmers. The majority of our produce comes from within 300 miles of campus. But we also know local doesn't just mean vegetables and fruit. Other locally sourced ingredients include cheese and milk, beverages and meats. At times, when we don't make our own, we order fresh-baked desserts and pastries from a local bakery. We only serve Fair Trade Coffee and Milk Free of the hormone RGBH. 

In 2018, FIU signed an exclusive, long-term contract with Chartwells Higher Ed for our Panther Dining services. Among its many sustainability initiatives, Chartwells maintains a policy for sustainable sourcing including Humane Farm Animal Care-certified cage-free shell eggs and sustainable seafood.

FIU Library

Sustainable Land Policy 

FIU’s Environmental Management Policy provides guidance and awareness to the university community and visitors regarding regulatory environmental compliance. FIU recognizes environmental protection is the responsibility of us all and the policy calls on each member of the university community to develop and implement operational procedures that align with a series of objectives including:

  • Minimize energy and water use through efficient management and practices;
  • Minimize generation and disposal of solid and hazardous waste by recycling and reusing resources;
  • Minimize polluting noises, odors, wastewater (effluents) and emissions to air, soil and water;
  • Be familiar with FIU policies and procedures to minimize and prevent storm water pollution;
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals and toxic cleaning and maintenance products if appropriate substitutes are available;
  • Ensure that all waste generated are disposed of in accordance with regulatory and university requirements. No hazardous waste shall be disposed of via the sanitary sewer or stormwater outfalls;
  • Meet all applicable environmental standards and regulations with a view toward continual improvement;
  • Encourage suppliers and contractors to adopt environmental standards;
  • Within available resources, initiate and maintain environmental awareness programs;
  • Promote the efficient use of energy in an economical and environmentally sound manner by energy conservation measures and where economically viable, investing in energy saving technology in both existing and new buildings and equipment;
  • Encourage representation on local environmental planning workgroups and local networks of environmental protection and conservation initiatives.
FIU Nature Preserve

Maintain and Conserve Ecosystems and their Biodiversity

Located in the subtopics and on the edge of the Florida Everglades, Florida International University has incorporated environmental stewardship into daily university life since first opening its doors in 1972. In fact, the environment was a major focus for FIU’s founders:

There is widespread belief that man's rapid alteration of his biological environment not only affects the quality of his life today but also threatens his long-term survival unless it is monitored far more closely. Continuing emphasis must be placed on restoring and maintaining a balance in our ecological system. 


Since the first Campus Master Plan in 1986, FIU has included a Conservation Element or similar consideration for responsible planning and construction to maintain natural ecosystems and the plants and animals they support

FIU maintains populations of 13 plant species and 5 animal species listed as near threatened, vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Currently, more than 130 plant species and 77 animal species found on campus are tracked by the IUCN.

Among many local initiatives, FIU leads the longest-running National Science Foundation-supported research and data-collection program focused on the Florida Everglades. This network of universities, government agencies and other partners has led to groundbreaking research and key discoveries to restore this iconic and imperiled ecosystem including its biodiversity. 

FIU also features an 11-acre Nature Preserve for environmental education. Three distinct ecosystems within the preserve provide habitat for 13 endangered and 15 threatened plant species, along with 238 other plants and animals that call our preserve home. There is also an organic fruit and vegetable garden that attracts people and pollinators alike.