Facilities Management becomes stewards of sustainability
 
During the past several years, the University of Houston has undertaken an array of efforts to become a more sustainable and eco-friendly campus. As a campus community, we have heightened our sensitivities to make efficient use of our natural resources and are undergoing many changes in our habits and systems.

In support of the university’s efforts, Facilities Management is demonstrating progressive leadership in support of the university’s initiative with the development of a Five-Year Sustainability Program and Plan. The plan’s first-year goals include design of utility meters and planning for software to track usage by building, energy audit and conservation programs, development of a comprehensive waste management program, and support of A&F and the university Office of Sustainability in community outreach and education. Facilities Management’s specific programmatic initiatives include:
    • Increase the university’s diversion rate from the current 23% to 40% by 2014. Diversion rate refers to the percentage of waste materials diverted from traditional disposal such as landfilling or incineration to other means such as recycling, composting, or re-using/re-purposing. FM continues progress on the 2020 goal of 40% waste diversion utilizing FY2011 metrics as the baseline.

    • Continue installation of additional Big Belly® solar trash compactors and recycling containers throughout campus. The current thirteen (13) Big Belly® units located across campus have been so successful that an additional eighty (80) bins will be added to the campus over the next five years. These “intelligent” waste collection systems hold ten times as much waste material as a standard bin. Utilizing solar power and information WIFI technology, each unit reports its current fullness status and this information can be used to dispatch collection crews or re-route staff in the field based on actual need to avoid wasting fuel and time on unnecessary trips and stops.

    • Continue the annual Campus Cleanup Day which takes place in late July. This one day event focuses on helping beautify and prepare the campus before the students return in the fall. Campus volunteers in partnership with Facilities Management staff collect trash and recyclables. Both waste collection and volunteer participation have increased for this program since its debut in 2011.

    • Rollout Adopt-A-Spot, an extension of the Campus Cleanup Day. Adopt-A-Spot is a new year-round university partnership program designed to encourage stewardship of the campus physical environment as students, student organizations, staff and faculty select a location and then commit to “adopt” it. Volunteer participants can help clean up litter, remove trash, weed, rake, and plant flowerbeds, remove outdated flyers, etc. Program kickoff is scheduled for January 2013 with volunteer signups located at the campus Kiosk locations. Monthly Adopt-A-Spot events (February, March, and April) will focus on sustainability initiatives and partnerships.

    • Explore, test and utilize sustainable cleaning supplies and equipment as well as renewable and recyclable office supplies to increase efficiencies that are environmentally and financially sound and effective.

    • Partner with Athletics, University Services and Facilities Planning and Construction to develop a “Zero Waste” plan for the new football stadium by recycling and composting so that discarded materials become resources for others to use and are thereby diverted from the landfill.

    • Continue to explore alternative energy initiatives similar to the Central Plant’s solar array system.