Gail of Green Living


The $5 Impact: The Burnt Orange goes GREEN

University of Texas at Austin

When I think of “green cities“, I think first of Seattle or Austin, Texas.  Their city governments have done a lot to green their communities.  But The University of Texas at Austin had not done so much.  And with over 50,000 students, its population is the size of a small town at least.  The University opened its Office of Sustainability in 2009, but the costs of carrying out the mission were expensive.  In 2011, the student body voted in a “green fee” of $5 per semester and $2.50 for a summer session, added to their fees.  This fee adds over half million dollars for projects.  Here are some examples of campus and campus life changes taking place:

  • Added gooseneck water fountains at high-traffic spots on campus to encourage students to fill their own water bottle.
  • Invasive plants removed from Waller Creek, so that student groups can enjoy the creek as well as monitor it through an Adopt-A-Stream program.
  • The Perry Castaneda Library has installed paper recycling bins inside and outside the library where more than 5,000 students use the facility each day.
  • A vacant lot in East Campus has been transformed into an organic micro-farm to grow fruits and vegetables to serve in campus dining rooms.
  • Students and faculty from the LBJ School of Public Affairs are now recycling and composting at their weekly luncheons.  More than 2,000 pounds of waste have been kept from landfills since this project began.
  • You’ve seen car charging stations; UT has installed a charging station outside the Perry Castaneda Library where students can charge their electronic devices, including electric scooters.
  • Additional bicycle parking has been installed across campus
  • The first large-scale tree nursery has been established for reforestation purposes.  It is located at the Pickle Research Campus.  The student-operated facility has the capacity for over 300,000 seedlings!

These are campus projects and do not reflect any efforts toward sustainability that classrooms, dorms and other campus groups and facilities are implementing on their own.  I can imagine there is a visual impact on the students and faculty that causes them to have a more responsible, sustainable lifestyle when they leave campus.

I think the students must feel they are getting a good return on their $5 investment in a greener campus.  HOOK ‘EM!

Information from the Alcalde, July/August 2012

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