This October, the University of Houston Office of Sustainability returned to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) national conference and expo to present two posters detailing campus sustainability. With approximately 2,000 participants, AASHE’s annual conference is the largest stage in North America to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities.
The first poster was presented by Gabriel Durham (Sustainability Coordinator) regarding campus recycling. The poster told the story of how proposed recycling contests between residence halls on campus exposed major problems with basic recycling amenities on campus.
“Long story short, we could not hold the contests because some dorms simply had no recycling bins to speak of” said Durham.
Durham did not stop there, however, and went on to hold targeted recycling events including an e-waste drive and textile drive; each capturing tons of waste. These results showed that the UH community is already eager and educated to recycle when given the proper means. His suggestions including major recycling bin overhaul and facilities reeducation were presented to board members of Recyclemania and other major campus recycling stakeholders.
The second poster, presented by Michael Mendoza (Sustainability Manager), shared lessons from UH’s integration of sustainable architecture.
“One of our main takeaways is that sustainable buildings need champions to become a reality.” Said Mendoza.
For example, many sustainable buildings cost significantly more to design than a conventional building. Faculty and staff champions, however, can educate other stakeholders how the building’s impacts on water use, electricity, and indoor air quality can justify this initial larger investment. Furthermore, it is shown that having a committed LEED certification champion as part of design team from
step one can save significant amounts of money.
Beyond the posters, the conference was devoted to a theme of "co-creating the sustainable economy". This theme manifested in educational sessions ranging from strategic reinvestment to the role of student accountability in waste reduction. Each provided valubale lessons for Office of Sustainability staff to bring to the UH community for a more sustainable campus.
For more information about AASHE and its programs and initiatives, visit AASHE.org.
For more information on Office of Sustainability events and activities, be sure to like the office on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit the official office calendar.