Skip to main content

January Newsletter 2021

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


Living off the Grid: Sustainable or No?

With rising COVID cases, economic stagnation and political turmoil, wouldn't it be nice to just unplug from it all - permanently? No, we don't mean meeting your maker. We're talking about living off the grid. Whether you're interested in sustainability, privacy or energy-efficiency, moving off-grid can be fulfilling. But not every state is equally suited to a fully independent lifestyle. In fact, some states actively discourage off-grid housing with disconnection fees or extra taxes on solar panels. LawnStarter looked into the data to help you find the best state for your own small, sustainable slice of heaven. We compared all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia across 20 key factors, from average per-acre cost of farmland to legality of rainwater harvesting to average monthly temperature. Scroll down for our rankings, highlights/lowlights, expert answers, methodology, and a few thoughts on why this study matters.

Read more

Sustainability in the news

UH Coastal Center: Seasonal Plant Succession
Following a prescribed burn in February 2020, the UH Coastal Center saw a grand showing of native plants like liatris, coneflowers and rattlesnake master. UH Coastal Center Program Director Evelyn Merz and Director Steve Pennings describe why the burn produced such a vibrant seasonal plant succession. Click the above link for the full video.

UH COVID Campus Update

We continue to experience a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic in our country, state and county. You may be wondering if this pandemic will ever end. The good news is that we now have effective vaccines and medical and public health experts believe that by getting 60 to 80% of the population inoculated we can ultimately break the pandemic cycle! And, on a more immediate note, I'm pleased to announce we will soon begin offering free COVID-19 testing here at the University of Houston for all students, faculty and staff. These should both go a long way in helping us meet the pandemic challenge. Read more above.


A Safer, Less Expensive and Fast Charging Aqueous Battery

Lithium-ion batteries are critical for modern life, from powering our laptops and cell phones to those new holiday toys. But there is a safety risk - the batteries can catch fire. Zinc-based aqueous batteries avoid the fire hazard by using a water-based electrolyte instead of the conventional chemical solvent. However, uncontrolled dendrite growth limits their ability to provide the high performance and long life needed for practical applications. Now researchers have reported in Nature Communications that a new 3D zinc-manganese nano-alloy anode has overcome the limitations, resulting in a stable, high-performance, dendrite-free aqueous battery using seawater as the electrolyte.

Industrial Design Student Only American to Win Annual Global Prize

"Automotive design transportation is not my strong suit, so at first I was not excited about the project," said Gray. Initially, Gray considered creating a scooter that was useful for people who live in the city, including college students, alleviating the burden of transporting laundry several floors or down the street to the laundromat. When she discovered Kimbrough required the design to be electric, Gray pivoted and developed a multipurpose scooter lending itself to city transportation. "I was thinking of people who live in city apartments or studios and how they commute to work without owning a car," Gray explained. "I have ridden traditional electric scooters, but they are hard to transport a lot of items while also finding your balance."



   Food for Thought

UH 2021 Campus Dining Updates

It's a new academic year and we are so happy to have you on campus! Although we are doing things a little differently this spring semester, your health and safety remain our top priority. Please see below for updates on new, safe, innovative, and convenient ways to dine on campus.

Food Dive Churning Out Great Sustainability Food News

Food Dive has a new great resource for combing the most recent sustainability food news. Click the link below for a wide spread of articles and hot topics.




TCiN Teacher Workshop - Using the Outdoor Spaces on Your Campus - Pt 2
Date: Jan 23
Time: 10 a.m. - Noon
Location: Virtual

Learning Abroad Virtual Spring Fair
Date: Jan 27
Time: 11 am - 2pm
Location: Virtual

Water Works
Date: Jan 25
Time: 6 pm - 7:30 pm
Location: Virtual

Pathway to Net Zero Buildings
Date: Jan 28
Time: 11 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Virtual

Suicide Prevention Training
Date: Feb 5
Time: register
Location: Virtual


Campus Garden Volunteer Day
Date: Jan. 22nd
Time: 9 am - 11am
Location: Cougar Woods Dining Hall

Sustainable Living Through Permaculture
Date: Jan 31
Time: 12:30 - 5:30 pm
Full Moon Hike
Date: Jan 30.
Time: 7:30 pm - 9 pm
Location: Baytown Nature Center
Sound Healing Meditation in the Cistern
Date: Recurring
Time: 6 pm - 6:45 pm
Buffalo Bayou Cistern
Galveston Bay Shoreline Cleanup with
Date: Feb 21st
Time: 2 pm - 4 pm
Location: Galveston Bay Foundation - Kemah

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

Engines of Our Ingenuity Scholarship
This scholarship is open to any creative-thinking, junior or senior undergraduate student at the University of Houston. To qualify, a student must be full-time (12 hours or more) with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit a one-page essay describing how they exhibit "creative" and "inventive" qualities. For instructions on how to apply, click link above.

The Woman's Club of Houston Scholarship
The Woman's Club of Houston Scholarship is a one-time, annual award of up to $1,500. To qualify, an applicant must be a certified junior or senior student seeking an undergraduate degree in the field of Education or Fine Arts for Fall 2016/Spring 2017, enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester of award and maintain a 3.0 GPA. The applicant also must demonstrate an interest in contributing to the community through participation in community service activities. In addition, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. For information on how to apply, click the link above.

UH Textbook Scholarship
Textbook scholarships will be awarded to selected UH students who have been admitted to undergraduate programs to support student success and access at UH. Selected applicants will receive a total of $1,000/academic year ($500/semester). For instructions on how to apply, click the link above.

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.