UH Moment: UH Maintaining Its ‘Green’ Streak with New Recyclers, Filtered Water Fountains

Red and white are the official colors of the University of Houston. The campus, however, continues to become “greener” thanks to UH’s increased focus on sustainability.

Solar Belly BinThe addition of more than 80 dual recycling receptacles and solar trash compactors are helping the University to reduce its carbon footprint. Manufactured by Big Belly Solar, these receptacles collect plastic, paper and aluminum. The connected trash compactor is powered by sunlight and crushes waste materials to make room for more refuse. Once the bin is full, a sensor alerts staff members in the University’s Recycling and Solid Waste department.

“You can see from the trash containers, they have a message on them…and it’s ‘recycle,’” said Michael Burriello, assistant director of facilities management. “So, this is very visible for the students. The students love this because they’re the ones that are pushing for the recycling. That’s the new generation.”

The Cougar community also can help reduce landfill waste using new stations offering filtered water. Faculty, staff and students can reuse water bottles instead of throwing them away. Burriello said that these filling stations have kept nearly 200,000 bottles out of landfills.

“We’re reducing our carbon footprint overall because with those 173,000 bottles that we’re saving…or have saved so far...each one of the bottles produces 2907 grams of carbon emissions,” Burriello said.

Water Filling Station

The addition of the recyclers/solar compactors and water fillers complement UH’s many other sustainability initiatives. These include the UH Central Plant’s enhanced chillers, cooling towers and boilers that 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. Additional sustainability efforts include a community garden, trayless dining halls (such as the Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified Cougar Woods), community partnerships, student engagement activities (including the annual RecycleMania competition) and the Adopt-A-Spot programs.

UH recently was included in Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2013 Edition. The University has made this list of greenest colleges every year since 2010.