UT-Dallas expands sustainable practices, earns recognition
The Bioengineering and Sciences Building is certified LEED gold. It has sustainable wood products throughout and a lighting conservation system that adjusts to the amount of light outside the building using sensors. Photo courtesy UT-Dallas
The University of Texas-Dallas' sustainable practices have been acknowledged by five sustainability programs and associations, garnering national and international recognition, according to the school.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recognized UT-Dallas with a bronze certification in its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). The AASHE STARS program is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Schools are evaluated on their performance in four categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. A STARS certification represents significant sustainability leadership.
Through its AASHE STARS participation, the university also made the Sierra Club’s 2016 Cool Schools list. It is the third time UT-Dallas has made the list, improving its rating each year.
“It has been exciting to lead the growth of the sustainability program on campus and to work with students and other departments to educate and implement new green initiatives,” said Thea Junt, associate director of energy conservation and sustainability. “Achieving AASHE STARS certification is a major milestone for our campus, and we will continue to work toward enhancing our programs.”
Junt said growing student involvement has helped expand sustainability efforts on campus. Student Government leads a Green Initiative to help improve campus sustainably, and the Office of Student Volunteerism (OSV) is involved with many of the campus outreach programs, such as Earth Week, E-Waste Roundup and Texas Arbor Day.
The university has also invested in green programs, such as single-stream recycling, an on-site composting program and green building standards for construction and renovations.
LEED-ing the way
The United States Green Building Council recognizes environmentally conservative design and construction features with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications. UT-Dallas has five LEED-certified buildings on campus, plus two buildings in construction that will be submitted for LEED review next year.
The most recent building to receive a LEED certification was the Bioengineering and Sciences Building (BSB). Designed and constructed following green and sustainable guidelines, BSB is certified as a LEED gold building. The building has sustainable wood products throughout and a lighting conservation system that adjusts to the amount of light outside the building using daylight harvesting sensors. In addition, rainwater collected from the roof irrigates the grounds of BSB and Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory (NSERL).
The Student Services Building, which opened in fall 2010, was UT-Dallas’ first facility to earn LEED certification and the first in the UT system to obtain platinum certification — the highest designation that can be achieved. The Edith O'Donnell Arts and Technology Building, Naveen Jindal School of Management Addition and the complex composed of Residence Hall West, Dining Hall West and Rec Center West have earned silver certifications.
“Deeply rooted in the culture of UT-Dallas”
Departments across campus also are enhancing their green practices. Within Auxiliary Services, Parking and Transportation has expanded its car and bike sharing services, and Dining Services recently earned a 3-Star Certification for Dining Hall West from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).
Through combined efforts such as these, UT Dallas has also earned a spot on The Princeton Review’s Guide to 361 Green Colleges for the fifth consecutive year. The Princeton Review surveys and selects schools based on data concerning universities’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The guide details the availability of transportation alternatives at each campus and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local and organic food.
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