Symposium outlines 2020 sustainability goals


Aiming to integrate sustainability with UT’s needs and identity, UT officials met Friday and presented additions to the campus master plan designed to make the University more environmentally friendly.

Members of the UT community presented research and proposals at the University’s third annual sustainability symposium Friday. David Rea, campus planning and capital projects management director, said UT is focusing on eight areas to accommodate population growth and revitalize the core campus using sustainable methods. There are three phases to the plan, including identifying campus needs, exploring sustainability options and review and implementation of the final plan. UT is currently in the first phase of the plan and hopes to implement it in upcoming years.

Rea said aspects of the plan include forging strategic partnerships with businesses and neighborhoods in surrounding areas and facilitating safer and more efficient mobility on campus, among other initiatives.

Jeri Baker, assistant director of parking and transportation services, said UT plans to increase environmentally friendly forms of transportation on campus by encouraging students to ride bicycles, join carpool programs and ride Capital Metro buses when commuting to and from campus.

“It’s time for everyone to embrace the idea that having burnt orange blood on this campus is the same thing as bleeding green,” she said.

Only people who register their bicycles are allowed to park them on campus. Baker said more than 10,000 bicycles are registered with Parking and Transportation Services. She said the University hopes to encourage more students, faculty and staff to ride bicycles by holding bicycle sales and waiving the registration fee.

Baker said UT has about 75,000 daily commuters but only about 15,000 parking spaces, and UT is trying to encourage commuters to carpool. She said UT’s carpool program currently has 1,100 members.

Steve Kraal, associate vice president for campus planning and facilities management, said the University plans to reduce campus energy use by 20 percent. To do this, it will derive 5 percent of its electricity, or 17 million kilowatt hours, from alternative energy such as solar power.

Kraal said UT also plans to reduce its water consumption to 20 percent by 2020. He said the University currently uses 900 million gallons and reclaims 100 billion annually.

In addition, Kraal said the University aims to derive 40 percent of its water usage from reclaimed sources and divert 90 percent of campus waste from landfills by emphasizing recycling.

“[Recycling] will require a significant change in campus behavior,” Kraal said.

In August, The Daily Texan reported UT produced 140,000 pounds of trash and 66,400 pounds of recyclable waste per week during the spring semester.

Jim Walker, office of sustainability director, said the University aims to implement single-stream recycling, a method that allows recyclable materials to be deposited in the same bin. UT’s Division of Housing and Food Service is currently implementing single-stream recycling in residential and dining halls across campus.

Architecture professor Lawrence Speck said he does not think using less energy and fewer resources is a sacrifice. For example, he said he stopped using fluorescent lighting in his office, which makes it easier for him to see his computer screen and makes conversations with students and faculty more engaging.

“It’s not a sacrifice, it’s an asset to your life,” Speck said.

Printed on Monday, September 24, 2012 as: UT reiews plans for campus sustainability