Earth Week at UH to Spotlight Sustainability Initiatives, Activities

Earth Day is April 22. The University of Houston, however, is preparing for an entire week of events dedicated to sustainability and the environment. Earth Week at UH will feature events, field trips, films and volunteer opportunities aimed at promoting sustainability and educating community members on a variety of environmental topics.

Earth Week campus events run April 20 – 24. Additional off campus excursions are scheduled throughout the week and during the weekend.

A complete schedule of events is available on the Earth Week website. Some of the featured events include:

  • April 20Crafty Coogs: From 2 to 4 p.m. in the Cougar Village II Lobby, community members can learn how to repurpose items that might be considered trash into usable household tools including coffee coozies, compact disc coasters, snack wrapper bookmarks and braided bracelets.
  • April 21 – Passport UH/Healthy Coogs, Healthy Planet: Community members are invited to tour UH’s Campus Community Garden and learn how to prepare healthy meals. Tours begin at noon, and cooking demonstrations begin at 12:30 p.m. in Cougar Woods Dining Hall.
  • April 21 - Volunteering in the Campus Garden: UH’s Metropolitan Volunteer Program (MVP) is leading a volunteer effort to lend a few green thumbs to UH’s Campus Community Garden (next to Cougar Woods dining hall). From 4 to 7 p.m., volunteers will harvest crops, pull weeds and other tasks to help the garden. Volunteers can sign up on the MVP site or the Campus Community Garden’s Facebook page.
  • April 22 – Central Plant Sustainability Tours: Michael Burriello, assistant director of facilities management, takes community members behind the scenes of UH’s Central Plant to observe its sustainable initiatives. Tours are 30 minutes long and run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • April 23 – “Dirt! The Movie”: This critically acclaimed documentary examines the relationship between humans and soil. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in Cemo Hall’s lobby and auditorium. A panel discussion will follow the screening.
  • April 24 – National Arbor Day Observance: Celebrate UH’s collection of beautiful trees with a tree scavenger hunt from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities begin in Butler Plaza. Throughout the day, Facilities Management will be caring for campus trees.

 “Earth Week is a series of events that highlights distinct sustainability projects and topics at the University, including sustainable development, alternative energy, nutrition, soil health and energy efficiency,” said Sarah Kelly, program manager for the Office of Sustainability. “It also allows for UH community members to engage in volunteerism in the community and on campus. There is something for everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing more people on campus get involved in environmental sustainability through this year’s Earth Week efforts.”

UH is consistently ranked among U.S. universities that strive for sustainability. Recently, the Princeton Review listed UH in its 2015 Guide to Green Colleges. This is the sixth year in a row that UH has been ranked among higher education institutions with commitments to sustainable practices.

“The Princeton Review has once again recognized the achievements of the University in sustainability. During what some are calling Earth Month, it’s encouraging to see not only UH’s dedication to the environment but the many other universities and colleges across the nation who are creating change,” Kelly said. “Through the combined efforts at institutions and organizations across the globe, it’s clear that sustainability is on the mind of many – as it should be. Our livelihood, happiness and future depend it on it.”

UH’s sustainability initiatives include its Campus Community Garden, UH Dining Services’ trayless dining and the green roof at the Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center. Additionally, 90 dual recycling receptacles and solar-powered trash compactors  and 61 filtered water refill stations are located throughout campus.

UH Central Plant’s enhanced chillers, cooling towers and boilers help deliver more efficient cooling and heating to University buildings. The Central Plant’s offices are partially powered by a solar array, which was donated by Green Mountain Energy.

UH also boasts the Silver LEED certified Cougar Woods Dining Hall. The facility features daylight harvesting controls for light/electricity optimization and water conserving plumbing fixtures. It was strategically constructed and includes state-of-the-art HVAC equipment that helps yield 30 percent energy savings annually.

To learn more about sustainability initiatives at the University, visit the Office of Sustainability’s website.