Activities & Organizations News

Annual Sustainability Fest to focus on environmental side

Aiming to offer the UH community practical information about leading a more eco-friendly life, the annual Sustainability Fest, organized by the UH Office of Sustainability, will be held from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Dec. 3,at Lynn Eusan Park.

“This year’s event will have zones to further highlight the multifaceted areas within sustainability,” said Sarah Kelly, program manager for the UH Office of Sustainability.

Sustainability initiatives at UH began taking shape around September 2007 when the Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Center received the first and only sloped green roof in Houston. However, the University received a grade of D on the 2008 Campus Sustainability Report Card, administered by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. Efforts to become more environmentally responsible were immediately put into effect, with the implementation of tray-less dining in the dining halls, the installation of 300 outdoor recycling bins and the birth of green events on campus to get the students and UH community involved in the environmental movement.

The University became a member of the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and utilized its Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System in order to develop our road map to a more green campus community. Then, in September 2008, the Sustainability Task Force was created to lead the charge. Since 2011, UH has been designated as a top green university by the Princeton Review in its annual Guide to Green Colleges. Also in 2011, AASHE STARS rewarded UH with a silver rating.

“The origins of sustainability fest actually date back to Green UH Day,” Kelly said. “The first one was held in October 2008, and the name changed in 2012, around the time that Green UH changed its name to the Office of Sustainability.”

As of April 2014, UH Facilities Management has installed 61 water bottle filling stations and has saved over 1 million bottles from entering the waste stream. The university has installed 86 big belly solar compacting recycling and waste bins, which reduces our carbon footprint by requiring fewer trips to empty the bins and offers real time data about the current capacity in the bins.

Having come a long way since its initial efforts, this year’s event will not only focus on the environmental side of sustainability, but also the economic, health and social aspects. In addition, the office is conducting a sustainability poetry contest open to students, faculty and staff. The contest encourages people to create an original work about an aspect of sustainability such as peace, social justice, animal cruelty or climate change.

Those interested in participating should submit their poem to [email protected] by Monday, Nov. 24, for a chance to win a $50 Visa gift card. The top three writers will be asked to read their poems on stage during Sustainability Fest.

“Some areas will focus on health and wellness, energy savings, sustainable transportation, waste minimization, natural resources, social issues and more,” Kelly said.

The first 500 guests will receive a UH sustainability tote bag which will include general sustainability information, a reusable water bottle, and a bookmark that lists sustainable living tips and is printed on FSC certified paper with 100 percent post-consumer recycled content. Students, faculty and staff will need to present their Cougar Cards in order to receive the tote bag.

In addition, the office will have some stage presence with a healthy food cooking demo, sustainability focused poetry contest, yoga demonstration and weather balloon launch. Nissan Leaf will be at the UC Circle Drive offering test drives, and UH Catering will be providing vegan meals to all of the exhibitors and volunteers, and healthy snacks will be available to guests.

“The goal of sustainability fest is to celebrate sustainability successes on campus and in our Houston community while providing opportunities for attendees to learn more about sustainability, encourage them to practice sustainable habits in their daily lives and engage with sustainability groups and other campus members,” Kelly said.

[email protected]

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