A known trailblazer in the world of sustainability, the University of Houston was well represented at the ninth annual American Institute of Architect's Gulf Coast Green Symposium and Expo.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Teaching Buildings - Best in Class Green” and focused on how educational institutions can increase sustainability across their campuses through various design, building and facilities practices.
Lending their expertise during the event in late June were Facilities Management’s Interim Executive Director Sameer Kapileshwari and Assistant Directors Michael Burriello and Avinash Rahurkar. They gave a presentation titled “Selling Sustainability Passion” concerning some of the sustainability initiatives in place on campus, including the BigBelly solar waste and recycling compactors and UH2O water bottle filling stations. They also touched on how to garner support and engage the campus community in the use of these new, green practices.
“Our aim during the presentation was to not only explain how we are helping UH become more sustainable and efficient, but also show that it’s something everyone can do,” said Burriello. “We wanted to dispel the myth that these programs are expensive or difficult to implement.”
In addition to facts and figures about energy utilization, solar power and more, the presenters incorporated pop quizzes into their 90-minute presentation to test the audience’s knowledge and get them involved. Participants who answered questions correctly received red reusable water bottles and lollipops.
Sarah Kelly, program manager for the Office of Sustainability, also attended and explained how she and her office work with departments like Facilities Management to better coordinate sustainability efforts across campus and spread awareness about them to students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities.
“In the past, the sustainability efforts on campus were grassroots initiatives led by passionate students, faculty and staff — some of whom were in leadership positions,” said Kelly. “We still encourage that same spirit and passion, but with the re-launch of the Office of Sustainability, we are working to increase collaboration and incorporate top-down and bottom-up approaches to sustainability.”