UH becomes newest member of green program

With hopes of becoming part of the green movement and educating Houston’s youth about air quality and climate changes issues, a group of students has introduced a program called ReEnergize to UH.

ReEnergize Texas is made up of more than 20 universities and high school campuses in Texas. With the help of a contribution from the Houston Endowment, UH will now join the program.

‘Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions regarding the causes and impacts regarding climate change; most people think it’s a hole in the ozone layer melting ice caps,’ intern Amy Mayfield said. ‘What they fail to realize is that climate change is occurring because of many factors. Factors that, through education, we can prevent or lessen in order to save our planet.’

ReEnergize Houston proposes to create a green future by informing students through speaker events and trainings. These events will occur several times a month with the intention of familiarizing students with local issues and projects.

‘The speaking events include bringing people from organizations in to talk to UH students,’ intern coordinator Jason Cantu said. ‘For our last speaking event we had Matthew Tejada from the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention and we had Dr. Louis Smith from the Houston Climate Protection Alliance. The events went well.’

ReEnergize also plans to campaign for implementation of a tuition fee of $3 to $5 permitted by the ‘green fee bill’ that was passed in 2009, which allows every state public college and university to create a supplementary fee of up to $5 for sustainability projects.’

‘We’ll be introducing the Green Fund next semester. We’re going to see if we can get UH to vote to add the fund to their fees in order to make the campus more sustainable,’ Cantu said.

ReEnergize will hold a free summit at the University Hilton.’

‘We will be holding a summit on the 18th of November to bring professionals, students and faculty across the city to listen to lectures on climate change, sustainability issues and air quality,’ Cantu said. ‘For example, we will have some professors that teach classes on the environment, architecture and even someone who specializes in sustainability and food.’

Confirmed speakers include UH Associate Vice President for University Services Emily Messa, assistant professor of atmospheric science and chemistry Barry Lefer, campus field coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation Praween Dayananda and the State Director of ReEnergize Texas, Trevor Lovell.

The organizers of ReEnergize were present at Green UH Day on Thursday to encourage students to participate. They said the program is open to all students regardless of their field of study.

‘We think it’s important that we get our community involved,’ intern Natalia Hidalgo said. ‘The issues we are discussing affect everyone. For that reason, we seek people from all disciplines to come to our lectures and come to our summit.’

‘As an intern for ReEnergize Houston, I thought it was interesting to note that we all came from different backgrounds with different majors. Climate change is something everyone should care about.”

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