October is Campus Sustainability Month, and the timing coincides with the anniversary of the relaunch of the University of Houston’s Campus Sustainability Committee.
The 17-person committee met for the first time this semester on October 5th. The committee includes members from across the university, and the Division of Administration and Finance is well represented.
David Oliver, SVC/SVP Facilities/Construction Management; Christa Rieck, AVC/AVP Facilities Planning; Mike Oestereicher, Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services; Jim Taylor, University Architect; Vivian LoDuca, Senior Talent Development Specialist; Chandra Smith-Adams, Auxiliary Services; and Elizabeth Clark, Sustainability Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, serve on the committee.
Rieck serves as Committee Chair.
In the meeting, discussion revolved around the mission of the Campus Sustainability Committee, defining its goals and MAPP, Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures, and how to enhance sustainability across campus that will allow it to regain its gold STARS rating.
STARS, or Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is self-reported framework universities and colleges can use to measure their sustainability. Depending on its report, STARS will bestow a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum rating. Currently, 258 universities and colleges have earned STARS ratings, with the majority at Silver and five at the top Platinum rating.
Clark said the committee would be using the rating system as a framework for the university’s sustainability initiatives moving forward. UH is currently rated, Silver.
In the meeting, committee members came prepared with ways to improve UH’s STARS rating.
Some short-term plans discussed by the committee include improving recycling, trash, and waste efforts, adding a sustainability micro-credential to the UH’s continuing education programs, and expanding tree planting on campus.
“The goal is to create campus partnerships so that we bring the whole community towards our sustainability goals,” said Clark. "We want it to be the entire UH community working together.”