UT Dallas Makes Strides in Sustainability Rankings

UT Dallas moved up a full grade on the College Sustainability Report Card for 2011.

The University earned a B- in an evaluation of the institution’s efforts to protect and conserve natural resources. The grading factored in activities on campus and at businesses and organizations that support the University.

The recent hiring of Donna Riha, the University’s first energy conservation and sustainability manager, figured prominently in the upgrade.

Donna  Riha

Donna Riha is the University’s first sustainability chief.

“Her hiring signals the University’s seriousness toward creating sustainable systems here,” said Rick Dempsey, associate vice president of Business Affairs for Facilities Management.

Since arriving at UT Dallas, Riha has developed and received approval for the campus’ sustainability policy, launched a website, organized an at-large sustainability committee, and partnered with contractors to conduct energy audits to find areas to lower costs and consumption.

“I think the open dialogue – just telling the story of our efforts toward sustainability – has helped tremendously,” Riha said. “Now if we can focus on improving our shareholder engagement category, we can make greater strides.”

A sampling of criteria along with the grade UTD received follows:

  • Administration – A for approving a sustainability policy last spring.
  • Climate Change & Energy – B for installing steam-trap systems in existing buildings on campus and adding LED lighting and lighting sensors.
  • Food & Recycling – B for local purchases of milk, produce, baked goods and beverages and for composting food scraps for use in the community garden.
  • Green Building – C for the Student Services Building, which is on track to receive LEED Platinum certification.

There are nine categories in all, each providing a letter grade for universities’ sustainability efforts based on set criteria.

Student Government President Grace Bielawski welcomed the progress.

“Students representatives from all across the UT System have viewed sustainability as an important concern, and I think UT Dallas students have done a stellar job working with our administration to improve efforts on our campus,” Bielawski said.

“Student Government created a special sustainability committee last year that has been working with Donna Riha and environmentally minded student groups to identify further changes that can be made to make our campus greener.”

The UT Dallas Facilities Management department is testing a new type of solar- and wind-powered LED system that may one day provide outdoor light on campus.

The UT Dallas recycling program helped elevate the campus’ sustainability grade.

The College Sustainability Report Card website grades campuses on a series of sustainability parameters.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].