Skip to main content

December Newsletter 2020

The Sustainable Coog: Your monthly source for green strides with red pride


Researchers Call for Renewed Focus on Thermoelectric Cooling

Almost 200 years after French physicist Jean Peltier discovered that electric current flowing through the junction of two different metals could be used to produce a heating or cooling effect, scientists continue to search for new thermoelectric materials that can be used for power generation. Researchers writing in Nature Materials, however, say it is time to step up efforts to find new materials for thermoelectric cooling. Bismuth tellurium compounds have been used for thermoelectric cooling for more than 60 years, and the researchers say the fact that there is already a commercial demand for the technology suggests better materials can expand the market. "Most work is focused on high temperature materials for power generation, but there's no market there yet," said Zhifeng Ren, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston and corresponding author for the paper. "Cooling is an existing market, a billion dollar market, and there has not been much progress on materials."

Read more

Sustainability in the news

Texas Flower Garden Reef Protections to be Expanded
The existing Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1992 and added to in 1996. It includes the northernmost coral reefs in the continental United States, deepwater reef communities, and other essential habitats for a variety of marine species. The proposal would expand the sanctuary from 56 square miles to 160 square miles, adding 14 additional reefs and banks to the sanctuary. These reefs provide important habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish, as well as threatened or endangered species of manta rays, sea turtles, and corals.

McMac Cx Air Champions - Video Competition

Enter the McMac Cx, Air Champions - Social Change Scientists Video Competition. Simply create a 30 to 90 second video about air quality using provided prompts, and enter using this Google form . A winner will be announced at the Citizens' Environmental Coalition's Green Film Series event on Jan. 29, 2021. The winner will receive a state-of-the-art Flow Personal Pollution Monitor (PPM) valued at $150.00 from McMac Cx. Questions? Want to be on the selection committee? Want to learn more about Air Champions? Contact David McLean at or read the details on the Google form.


How to Have a Holiday Without Harming the Bay

The Galveston Bay Foundation reminds us that litter and trash impact Galveston Bay throughout the year and we tend to create even more trash during the holiday season. According to the EPA, "Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, American household waste increases by more than 25 percent. Trash cans full of holiday food waste, shopping bags, bows and ribbons, packaging, and wrapping paper contribute an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills." The GBF offers its Sustainable Gift Guide to help you reduce your household's impact on the Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. You can learn more from the NOAA Marine Debris Program at

Coastal Texas Study public comment period extended to Jan. 13

The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office recently released plans for the Coastal Texas Study. Learn more and submit comments at NOTE: Several area environmental groups have raised concerns about the draft reports. Watch a recent discussion on the study by those organizations here.



   Food for Thought

Here's Why It's So Dangerous To Not Wash Your Produce, Study Shows

It's important to include fruits and vegetables in your diet each day, but there may be consequences if you don't thoroughly wash them. In fact, if you're buying local (which is encouraged to support farmers) you may also be at higher risk of foodborne illness, a new study says.

Student Center Committed to Sustainability and Safe Food

The Student Centers have increased sustainability efforts since the renovation of the facility including; water bottle filling stations, low flow toilets and paper saving hand dryers. In addition, the Student Centers have added over 80 single stream recycling bins throughout the South and North buildings. For more information on sustainability on campus visit the Office of Sustainability.




Rain Barrel Virtual Workshop
Date: Dec 19.
Time: 9 a.m. - Noon
Location: Virtual

Virtual Winter Camp
Date: Dec 28-31
Time: daily
Location: Virtual

Virtual Field Trips
Date: Every Tuesday
Time: Various
Location: Virtual

Wild And Scenic Film Festival On Tour
Date: January (multiple)
Time: 7 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Virtual

Solid Waste Management Workshops
Date: Jan 7
Time: 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Location: Virtual


Brazos Bend Bird Count
Date: Dec. 19th
Time: All day
Location: Brazos Bend Park

Outdoor Adventure for Youth in Public Housing
Date: Multiple
Time: Multiple
Location: Online 5300 Dryad Houston, TX 77035
Mercer Arboretum Volunteer Training
Date: Jan 7.
Time: Multiple
Location: Mercer Arboretum
UH Community Garden Volunteering
Date: Every Friday
Time: 9 a.m. - Noon
UH Main Campus
Houston Botanic Garden Volunteer
Date: Register
Time: Register
Location: Houston Botanic Gardens

Farmers Markets
Rice University Farmers Market
Date: Tuesdays
Time: 3:30 - 6:30 pm
Location: 5600 Greenbriar Dr. Houston, TX 77005
City Hall Farmers Market
Date: Wednesdays
Time: 11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Location: City Hall
901 Bagby St.
Houston, TX 77002
Central City Co-Op Farmers Market
Date: Every Wednesday
Time: 9:00 - 6:00 pm
Location: 2515 Waugh Dr.
Houston, TX 77006
Urban Harvest East Side Farmers Market
Date: Saturdays
Time: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: 3000 Richmond Ave. Houston, TX 77098
Memorial Villages Market
Date: Every Saturday
Time: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location: 10840 Beinhorn Road Houston, TX 77024
The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan's Mill
Date: Saturdays
Time: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: 7 Switchbud Pl.
The Woodlands, TX 77380

For more information on ongoing Farmers Markets or new, upcoming ones, check out the sites below:

Campus Community Garden

Learn more about our Campus Community Garden and our mission. Email us to schedule a time to volunteer.
Like us on Facebook for weekly garden updates!

Scholarships & Opportunities

Civic Science: Inquiry to Action, Winter/Spring 2021
The Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation is leading a multi-state cohort of middle and high school teachers through student projects focusing on air quality. Teachers will receive an air quality monitor, a chance to connect with other teachers from other states through a virtual professional learning community, and the opportunity to have students present their air data findings - along with student-driven solutions - at the virtual CELF Student Symposium in Spring 2021. Applications are being accepted through Dec. 31, 2020. For more information and to apply, visit

Gulf Research Program Fellowships applications open
The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has opened the application period for its Science Policy Fellowship and Early-Career Research Fellowship (Track One: Human Health and Community Resilience). The Science Policy Fellowship helps scientists hone their skills by putting them to practice for the benefit of coastal communities and ecosystems. The application deadline is March 3, 2021. The Early-Career Research Fellowship supports emerging scientific leaders as they research ideas not yet tested, pursue collaborations, and build a network of colleagues who share their interest in improving offshore energy system safety and the well-being of coastal communities and ecosystems. The application deadline is Jan. 13, 2021. For more information, visit

Gulf of Mexico Bay Watershed Education and Training Program applications
NOAA Fisheries is seeking proposals under the Gulf of Mexico Bay Watershed Education and Training (Gulf B-WET) Program, which funds locally relevant, authentic experiential learning for K-12 audiences through Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences. MWEEs are multi-stage activities that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom and aim to increase understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, riverine, estuarine, and Great Lakes ecosystems. Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Feb, 26, 2021. There will be explanatory webinars on Dec. 16, 2020, and Jan. 11, 2021. For more information and to register for the webinars, visit

Green Jobs


The Office of Sustainabilty is interested in what you think of the newsletter and what else, if anything, you'd like to see more of. Send your thoughts and feedback to!


sustainability logo

Copyright C 2018 University of Houston, All rights reserved.