By Kristina Michel
Sustainability Manager Sarah Kelly joined Houston community leaders for an active discussion about making Houston a more sustainable, beautiful environment now and in the future at the Houston Association of Realtor’s H-Town Day 2016.
The panel discussion took place April 7 at the Houston Country Club. Kelly talked about her work at the Office of Sustainability and the many sustainability programs and initiatives going on at UH. Kelly said what makes UH’s sustainability programs unique is their educational value to both the UH and Houston communities in addition to their practical benefits.
“At UH, not only do we look at ways to improve quality of life, but we also ask, ‘How can we educate people about it?’” said Kelly. “How can we incorporate that into the research activities of the University of Houston? And then how can we translate that into action? That’s something the University does really well. Not only do we do the research, but we ensure that that research is accessible.”
UH has been recognized by both local and national groups for its sustainability initiatives, which have not only made great strides in increasing energy efficiency and improving the environment but also contributed to the campus’ aesthetic beauty. Recently, the National Arbor Day Foundation awarded the University a Tree Campus USA certification for its commitment to sustaining healthy trees and engaging the campus community in conservation efforts. UH was also named among the 35 Great Value Colleges with Beautiful Campuses.
UH was also awarded Gold status by the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System report. UH is the only institution in Texas to receive Gold STARS status. UH will continue its commitment to sustainability, education and community involvement during Earth Week from April 15 to 23. The week will feature a wide variety of on- and off-campus activities and volunteer events.
Other community leaders on the discussion panel included Joe Turner, director of Houston Parks and Recreation, and Mary Blitzer, interim executive director of BikeHouston. Turner discussed improving Houston’s parks and increasing the amount of green space available to Houston neighborhoods. Blitzer talked about BikeHouston and the city bike plan. Bill Baldwin, owner/ broker of Boulevard Realty, served as moderator.