Facilities Management hosts Rice University Sustainability Team

The Facilities Management Sustainability Team recently hosted a visit by members of Rice University’s Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management (ACSEM) to share ideas and best practices and to discuss potential future collaborations between the two universities.

Visiting from Rice were: Dr. Richard R. Johnson, Director, Energy and Sustainability, ACSEM and professor in environmental studies and research; Eric Valentine, Energy Manager, Utility Procurement; and Mark Gardner, Manager, Energy Strategy Utility Program Development, Utility Procurement.

The visit included a tour of the UH Central Plant facilitated by Michael Burriello, Facilities Management Assistant Director and Sustainability Team Leader, after which Dr. Johnson and his team gave an overview of Rice University’s sustainability programs and initiatives to an audience of more than 30 University of Houston staff members and representatives from NASA, the city of Houston, and Lone Star College.

Dr. Johnson gave a brief history and background of the Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management, which was founded as a collaborative unit to create synergy for sustainability at Rice. The center's mission is to provide direction for short- and long-term energy and resource planning, and to provide support for a broad range of campus sustainability initiatives, such as planning for sustainability, green building, energy and water conservation, recycling, environmental education, public lectures and events, student environmental projects, research partnerships, and classroom engagement.

Rice's current sustainability programs and initiatives include:

  • Shell Center for Sustainability - fosters research, outreach and education to ensure sustainable development;
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - industry standard for green building) - Approximately 25 percent of campus buildings are LEED certified - 5 Gold and 5 Silver;
  • The campus is designated as the Lowery Arboretum and is used as a teaching and research tool for environmental literacy and is integral in leading Rice's participation in the Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus USA program;
  • Use of single stream recycling collection on campus - allows for mixed recyclables in the same bin;
  • 88.7 percent of C&D (construction and demolition) waste is recycled at no additional cost to the university;
  • 4 percent of all campus water is reclaimed and recycled;
  • Use of biodiesel from recycled and reprocessed cooking oil for use in Rice's diesel-powered mowers;
  • ZeRow House - In partnership with Rice’s school of architecture and Houston's 'Project Row Houses', ZeRow House is a prototype for small, affordable, sustainable housing which uses solar energy technologies to provide all required energy needs and allows for excess electricity to be sold off to the grid;
  • LED lighting pilots;
  • Maintaining an email address to report possible energy misuse on the Rice campus - energywaste@rice.edu
  • Adoption of several sustainability-related policies: Sustainability Policy, Sustainable Facilities Policy, and Building Temperature Policy;
  • Currently developing RICEMaP - a long range integrated climate and energy master plan which utilizes campus building audits to anticipate utility costs through 2040;
  • Providing free transit passes for students to take the light rail to eliminate use of cars on campus.

Inspired by Albert Einstein’s observation that, "We can't solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them", Facilities Management has aligned its organizational strategies to best carry out a sustainable approach to facilities operations and management. Facilities Management looks forward to continuing the dialogue with Rice University sustainability staff members and will continue to seek additional opportunities for collaboration and partnership. For more information about University of Houston and Facilities Management Sustainability Initiatives, please contact Michael Burriello, Assistant Director and Sustainability Team Leader, at mlburrie@central.uh.edu or 713-743-4562. For more information, please visit http://uh.edu/plantops/programs/sustainability/index.php.