University of Texas at Arlington 2008 Campus Sustainability Leadership Award Application
Environmental Health & Safety
The University of Texas at Arlington
Governance & Administration
The University of Texas at Arlington is committed to enhancing the campus and surrounding community through its many sustainable initiatives. This commitment is evident in the University's Campus Master Plan (May 2007) that includes sustainable design and development as a major Design Guideline. The Plan truly "greens" the campus by reducing surface parking from 111 acres to only 56 acres. The Plan also establishes LEED certification as a goal for all new buildings and landscape/streetscape improvements. The new Engineering Research Building, scheduled to break ground in August 2008 and totaling over 234,000 gross square feet, will achieve LEED Silver (see also Operations section).
In October 2007, President James D. Spaniolo created the President's Sustainability Committee (PSC) which now comprises ten work groups focusing on such activities as: curriculum and research development, transportation, energy and water conservation, building and development, recycling and much more. In April 2008, the PSC presented over 150 sustainable initiatives for consideration and 89 of these initiatives were approved by President Spaniolo.
Prior to the formation of the PSC, the President's Recycling Committee focused its attention on reducing the amount of material going to the landfill including paper, plastics, glass, aluminum, scrap metal, automotive oil and filters, and "techno trash". The President's Recycling Committee was recognized for its efforts with several regional and state awards.
In the spring of 2008, UT Arlington joined the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (ASSHE). Joining ASSHE is another means of demonstrating the University's commitment to sustainability, but as important, allows the university to network with others in order to employ best practices and remain current on sustainable methodologies and practices.
Also, in the spring of 2008, UT Arlington became a charter member (and only university member) of Air North Texas, a regional clean air partnership and campaign whose mission is to provide a comprehensive air quality resource. Air North Texas is a program of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. In conjunction with this initiative and the City of Arlington, in May 2008 the University completed a carbon footprint analysis of its own campus (see also Curriculum and Research section). Rice University (Houston, Texas) is the only other university in the state of Texas that has accomplished this comprehensive analysis.
This fall (2008), the University will extend its commitment to integrating sustainability in the curriculum and workplace by hiring a Sustainability Coordinator.
As a result of its leadership commitment to sustainability, the University has been recognized with numerous environmental awards. Most recently, UT Arlington won an Environmental Leadership Award from the Greater DFW Recycling Alliance for the first green roof project in north central Texas.
In August 2006, UT Arlington signed an energy savings performance contract with Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. to implement recommendations for utility savings. Siemens projected the simple payback for this project to be a favorable 7.99 years with an implementation cost of $17,989,981. Eighteen (18) energy cost reduction measures have since been initiated, including comprehensive lighting retrofits to replace inefficient lighting systems, occupancy sensors to vary the temperature of a space by determining if the space is occupied, transformer upgrades to reduce voltage for building use, replacement of steam traps, installation of window solar film, vending machine sensors to reduce energy consumption during times of inactivity, high efficiency motor upgrades, cooling system replacements.
UT Arlington has closely partnered with Aramark, the campus food service provider, to activate many of the early recommendations of the President's Sustainability Committee. Using the motto reduce/reuse/recycle, Aramark has implemented such measures as changing Styrofoam cups to paper where applicable, adding tin and plastic containers to the list of items they currently recycle, and continuing to integrate pre-consumed food items into the University's award-winning compost site/program. Further, Aramark purchases food products from local growers and manufacturers. The dining hall has also experimented with "trayless" dining and will implement TrayLess Fridays during the 2008-09 school year. This reduces the amount of food waste and avoids washing extra dishes and trays. After its trial run, the program will be evaluated and potentially expanded for all meals served in the dining hall.
The President's Sustainability Committee is partnering with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to give students, faculty and staff a referral service for identifying others that can carpool or van pool. They are also considering ways to implement higher bike usage and to promote biking to campus. One such initiative is to provide convenient and free air filling stations.
In June 2008, UT Arlington's Procurement Services department revised the fiscal regulation for responsible purchasing practices. They now direct departmental buyers, when choosing an outside vendor, to give consideration to recycled/remanufactured goods and products when purchasing paper, cleaning supplies, motor oils & lubricants, etc. This also includes directives for desirable Energy Star ratings for computers, photocopiers and other applicable office equipment.
Visible and convenient recycling stations are located throughout the campus. Apartments and residence halls promote recycling and green living to its residents, most visibly during the spring 2008 semester when halls participated in the 2008 national Recyclemania program.
UT Arlington has broken ground on a new state-of-the-art Engineering Research Building (see also Governance and Administration section). This building will be shared by the College of Engineering and the College of Science. Some of the features for this LEED Silver-level facility will include: rain and condensate water harvesting, which will be used to irrigate landscape and storm water management; installation of native low-water landscaping; natural day lighting; and a partial green roof. Materials for construction will be made of recycled content, regional materials and Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.
Curriculum & Research
Academic programs- UT Arlington offers a number of degree programs, minors, options, and certificates that address environment/sustainability issues.
The interdisciplinary graduate program in Environmental and Earth Sciences provides both master's and doctoral degrees emphasizing science-based solutions to environmental problems. Several other graduate programs permit students to focus on environmental issues and sustainability in coursework and thesis or dissertation research. Environmental engineering, transportation engineering, and water resources are available focus areas for graduate degrees in civil engineering. Environmental policy and planning are available focus areas for graduate degrees in urban and public affairs. Environment and sustainability can also be focus areas for graduate students in architecture and landscape architecture. Chemistry and biochemistry graduate students can focus on analytical chemistry for environmental research or work in the Center for Renewable Energy Science and Technology. Biology students can focus on biodiversity and ecology. In the master's program in geology, students can focus on environmental geology and climatology. Graduate certificates are available in environmental science and other areas.
The School of Urban and Public Affairs offers an undergraduate minor in urban planning and environment, and several programs - including Civil Engineering, Biology, Geology, and Architecture - permit undergrads to focus their elective coursework in areas relevant to environmental studies and sustainability. A formal proposal for a BS degree program in Environmental Science has been approved by the University and is under review by UT System. Faculty members also are developing a proposal for a major and minor in Environmental Studies that would be the only such program in a public 4-year institution in north Texas.
Research- Fifty to sixty faculty members and hundreds of graduate students in nearly every college and school are engaged in environmental research. Areas of research vary widely, from detection of atmospheric toxins, waste water treatment, algae blooms, and climate change in the Arctic to environmental history, environment and feminism, environmental policy, theory of environmental expertise, and landscape planning for energy conservation. UT Arlington's environmental research receives funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of Energy, and numerous corporations. Research and development in the area of renewable energy is concentrated in the Center for Renewable Energy Science and Technology.
(1) A white paper commissioned by President James D. Spaniolo and now being drafted by the PSC's Curriculum and Research Work Group outlines a proposal for an Environmental Studies undergraduate degree, discusses strengthening the emphasis on sustainable engineering, proposes a framework for greening campus laboratories, and recommends ways to facilitate sustainability research.
(2) In the 2009-10 academic year, the OneBook and Conversations programs will focus on the theme of environment. All first-year undergraduates will study a selected environmental book, and prominent environmental lectures will be held throughout the year.
(3) A special graduate course in the School of Urban and Public Affairs recently completed the University's first carbon footprint analysis (see also Governance and Administration section).
With a commitment to life-enhancing research, teaching excellence and service to the community, The University of Texas at Arlington is an educational leader in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The University's 25,000 students pursue more than 180 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in an extensive range of disciplines. UT Arlington's diverse student body hails from all corners of the United States and nearly 130 countries. Campus residences accommodate nearly 4,500 students.
Several campus organizations, including a student chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Geological Society, and the Animals & Environment Committee of the UTA Volunteers are dedicated to environmental activism. Efforts are underway to create a "Greeks Go Green" initiative involving fraternities and sororities. Student leaders learn how to run a more green club/organization by attending a workshop at the Student Leadership Retreat in August 2008.
Outreach is a critical part of engaging the campus and inspiring a cultural commitment to sustainability. A "Mavericks Go Green" campaign has been developed in conjunction with the President's Sustainability Committee's (PSC) programming and priorities. Its core communication vehicle is the "Mavericks Go Green" website, found at www.uta.edu/sustainability, which provides news, event information, PSC initiatives and contact information, community partner information, curriculum listings, research projects, and ways to get involved. Associated with the website is a Forum (blog), providing a clearinghouse for on-going efforts, idea-sharing, PSC activities, and much more. Banners, posters, advertisements, and a soon-to-be-launched "Mavericks Go Green" brochure will emphasize environmental commitment year-round.
Community Service and Outreach
When University President James D. Spaniolo first established the President's Sustainability Committee, it was determined that not only UT Arlington faculty, staff and students should serve on this committee, but environmental leaders within the Arlington, Dallas and Ft. Worth communities. This collaborative approach exponentially broadens the opportunities for programmatic integration throughout the north Texas region.
In addition to its charter membership in the new air quality consortium, Air North Texas, UT Arlington is also a charter sponsor of Vision North Texas. Vision North Texas is a private-public partnership, headed by the Urban Land Institute, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and the University of Texas at Arlington. Vision North Texas is making an important contribution to the future quality of life, economic desirability and long-term sustainability of the 16-county North Central Texas region. It is increasing public awareness about important regional land use issues that affect mobility, air quality, water supply and other economic and environmental resources.
The City of Arlington, in partnership with UT Arlington, applied for and received a grant of $135,000 from the North Central Texas Council of Governments to expand UT Arlington's award-winning composting site. Additionally, the City of Arlington utilizes this site as a teaching facility for their Master Composter program. This site has won two local and one state environmental leadership awards.
Every spring, UT Arlington hosts The Big Event. This is a day of community service and outreach involving students, faculty, staff and members of the community. The 2008 Big Event included green projects such as creek clean-up, house painting, mulch spreading, working in the compost site, and helping at various Arlington parks. Additionally, volunteers helped workers at Meals on Wheels, Mission Arlington and the Salvation Army. There were approximately 560 volunteers that participated in The 2008 Big Event.
UT Arlington sponsors or participates in many events throughout the year. In conjunction with Earth Day, "Celebrating People and Planet" strives to increase awareness about sustainability issues by bringing numerous environmental organizations to campus in an outdoor fair-like setting. Another campus event, the "Green Fair," educates employees on green purchasing options by bringing together vendors whose product lines include recycled materials such as office supplies, furniture, and novelty items. Every November, the City of Arlington and UT Arlington partner in a computer round-up event in conjunction with Texas Recycles Day. In Novmeber 2008, UT Arlington's President's Sustainability Committee, the Arlington Conservation Council and the Green Arlington foundation will co-sponsor the "Fix-it Green Home Fair," a free public event held on campus, dedicated to educating renters and homeowners on simple, do-it-yourself repairs and updates that will save money, energy and water.