Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sustainable Efforts by the Division of Housing and Food Service at UT

*Energy Star* Appliances

* All campus laundry machines have been upgraded to Energy Star, front loading, water conserving models. The washing machines use less water and also spin out more water so the dryers use less energy to dry clothes, saving an estimated 42% total energy use over older models. DHFS received a $45,000 rebate from the City of Austin for installing these energy and water efficient appliances and an ICI Water Efficiency Achievement (WEA) Award.
* All residence hall MicroFridges are now Energy Star rated models, saving an estimated $5,000 per month in electricity use.
* Energy Star rated central heat/ac units have been installed at the Gateway and Colorado Apartments.

Energy and Lighting

* Students are required to use compact fluorescent bulbs for lighting in their rooms.
* Replaced an estimated 3,200 incandescent light bulbs in DHFS buildings with compact florescent bulbs. The life expectancy of the compact florescent bulb is eight times that of an incandescent bulb. We save an estimated $50,000 annually in electricity.
* Replaced 1,355 old fluorescent fixtures with T8 models. The T8 models use less electricity, saving an estimated $15,000 in total electrical use over the life of the fixtures.
* Disconnected 902 fluorescent fixtures in select residence hall hallways, for an annual estimated savings of $40,000 in electricity.
* Replaced hot water storage tanks with hot water generators that supply instant hot water in Moore Hill, Blanton, Prather, and Kinsolving residence halls. Energy is saved by not having to keep the water in the storage tanks hot.
* Kitchen exhaust hoods are on timers to automatically shut down when not in use.
* Upgraded vending machines to use 50% less electricity by changing the type of compressor and turning off the lights in the machine.
* Purchased new natural gas ranges in Colorado apartments with electric pilots, saving the burning of gas for pilot lights.
* Currently installing energy conserving occupancy sensor light switches in residence hall common areas.
* In the summer of 2005, DHFS began a phased replacement of air handlers in Jester Center Residence Hall. Air handlers are the backbone of a building's Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and require significant amounts of chilled water and electrical energy to operate. Through the summer of 2008, we have replaced 8 of the 22 air handlers in Jester. We have also replaced the air handler in Blanton Hall. These replacement air handlers are expected to use 25% less energy than the original air handlers, as well as providing a more reliable and comfortable environment for our residents. Each air handler project has an expected eight year payback.

Water Conservation

* All resident showerheads and sink faucets have low water use aerators.
* New toilets are low water use models, which require only 1.6 gallons of water compared to 3.5 gallons.
* Dish machines use low-flow rinse nozzles to reduce water usage.
* Utilize Rain Sensors on irrigation controllers to turn off the watering programs after a rain.
* Renovated landscapes at many residence halls utilize low water use plant materials and also control erosion and water runoff.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

* Cardboard, paper, aluminum, steel and plastic is recycled in all DHFS offices and kitchens.
* Students in residence halls and university apartment have recycle bins in their rooms to recycle paper, aluminum and plastic.
* The DHFS Administrative office has significantly reduced paper usage by changing housing reservations, billing, newsletters and report generation to electronic forms. All together, these changes save an estimated 300,000 sheets of paper per year.
* Jester 2nd Floor and Kinsolving Dining Halls will be tray free beginning in Fall 2009.
* DHFS has passed the Bottled and Canned Beverage Policy, also known as BYOV or Bring Your Own Vessel, which saves approximately 70,000-75,000 bottles and cans per year. The policy reads: In support of the University commitment to sustainability, beverages purchased from Division of Housing and Food Service (DHFS) funds for DHFS sponsored meetings, programs and events are served from bulk containers such as 1 to 5 gallon air voids. Residence hall meeting and event participants are expected to provide their own drinking vessels. Beverages in individual containers such as bottled water, bottled juices, and cans of soda are not provided from DHFS funds. Individuals are permitted to bring their own beverages. We estimate to save 70,000-75,000 bottles and cans per year.
* Jester Center Residence Hall has purchased 3,500 reusable cups for their residents to use at hall programs and URHA also purchased and gave away 1,000 reusable cups at Moove-In.
* All register tape used in our retail locations is made of 100% recycled paper.
* Reduced packaging waste by obtaining concentrated dish room chemicals, reducing product waste from a 55-gallon drum to a 2 lb. container.
* Reusable coffee, soda, and water containers are sold and promoted with discounts at retail outlets.
* All tree limbs at the University apartments are diverted from the landfill by chipping them into mulch that is used in landscape areas.
* Currently selling and promoting reusable, recycled shopping bags at retail outlets.
* Resident assistants and residence hall coordinators receive a reusable, stainless steel water bottle for their use.
* Dining facilities use 100% recycled napkins and paper towels. Napkin dispensers are designed to create minimal usage of paper products.
* Staff purchase recycled paper products whenever possible when ordering paper products.
* When able, office printers are set for double-sided printing.
* Printed key cards were eliminated in lieu of an on-line system. Saves printing approximately 8000 key cards on heavy stock paper annually.
* If plastic bags are needed, DHFS provides biodegradable plastic bags for customers at retail locations.
* Carpet is recycled as it is replaced. From 2006 through 2008, we have purchased 8,616 square yards of climate neutral Cool Carpet from InterfaceFLOR, saving the equivalent of 147 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
* When replaced, old computer equipment is recycled, sold or donated to schools.
* The Salvation Army and Campus Environmental Center (CEC) collect used, unwanted items from students during move out and at the end of the semester. They are then donated or sold in a garage sale that supports the CEC.

Food Service

* Plate Waste Studies
o Yearly studies to determine the amount of edible, post-consumer food waste in our dining halls.
o Food waste reduction campaign to educate students on food waste and the benefits of going trayless.
o Results from the October 2008 plate waste study show that post-consumer food waste has decreased by 30% since February 2008.
* Food waste is pulped to reduce waste volume by 85%.
* Currently testing a Somat eCorect waste reduction machine which agitates and dries the food waste, further reducing the waste and making it into a soil amendment. This amendment will be given to our local farmers to compost.
* Soon, we will be partnering with the Landscape Department to compost our 150 pounds of coffee grounds per week.
* Biodegradable serviceware is replacing a large majority of previously used plastic and wax-coated paper products in all retail locations.
* DHFS has signed up for the Real Food Challenge and will be working on meeting sustainable foodservice goals.
* Sell organic, fair-trade, and shade-grown coffee.
* All fish and seafood is purchased from a sustainable fishery.
* Used cooking oil is recycled.
* Bi-annual Harvest Dinners feature foods grown and produced within 150 miles of UT.
* Purchase produce from a local farmer every week through the Farm Direct program.
* Jesta Health Store sells many organic, vegetarian and vegan food items.
* DHFS C-stores now also provide many organic, vegetarian and vegan food items.
* Food leftovers are donated to a food bank.
* Texas food items are featured for a full week each month during the Texas Fresh Focus weeks.

Specifications for Renovation

* Jester Center Residence Hall lobby remodel will include a water bottle refill station to encourage the use of reusable bottles.
* Natural lighting and adjustable light levels are used to minimize the need for artificial lighting.
* Existing building materials and construction are reused when possible.
* When new building materials are required, items containing recycled content such as wall sheathing and flooring are utilized.
* Regionally manufactured materials such as wall sheathing and laminate products are used when available.
* Rapidly renewable materials such as wood and rubber are used when possible.
* Low VOC products are utilized to support good indoor air quality.
* Mechanical systems are used to increase energy performance.
* Water is conserved through water efficient plumbing products.
* Salvaging and recycling of construction material waste is encouraged.

Specifications for New Construction

* Construction site impact is minimized by controlling erosion, sedimentation and storm water runoff.
* Sites are selected with regard to environmental sensitivity.
* Existing trees are preserved when possible.
* Bus lines, future light rail locations and shared parking structures are considered when selecting a site.
* Building envelopes and systems are built to maximize energy performance, meeting ASHRAE 90.1 and the State Energy Code.
* Energy efficiency is improved by utilizing the existing campus central plant, using Total Energy Heat Recovery Wheels to recover energy from exhaust air, low pressure loss duct systems, high efficiency motors and variable speed control pumps.
* HVAC equipment uses no CFC refrigerants, water condensate is reused and carbon dioxide monitoring sensors are installed.
* Energy efficient fluorescent and compact-fluorescent bulbs are used for 100% of the total lighting.
* Occupancy sensors are added to many common rooms to decrease light usage when it is unnecessary.
* Trash collection areas are designed for recyclable collection.
* Natural lighting is utilized as much as possible and high light reflecting ceiling panels are used to decrease lighting needs.
* The majority of interior wall structures, existing millwork, doors, light fixtures and furnishings are reused when possible.
* Building materials containing recycled content are sourced when available.
* Rapidly renewable and/or regional building materials are utilized when possible.
* Low-VOC and low-odor paints are used to provide better indoor air quality.
* Lighting and air temperature controls are added in offices to encourage reduced energy consumption when not needed, and to provide increased user control.
* New and existing mechanical units are tested & balanced to optimize performance.
* Contractors are directed to salvage all removed carpet and recycle it in the best manner possible.
* Compliance with ASHRAE 62 code for acceptable indoor air quality requirements, and ASHRAE 55 code, providing thermally comfortable environments that support the productivity and well-being of building occupants.
* LEED Accredited Professionals are integrated into the project team when possible.
* Water efficient toilets, shower heads and faucets are installed in all restrooms.
* Tile carpeting is used to reduce the amount of construction waste.

Education, Outreach and Policy

* DHFS has hired a full-time Environmental Specialist to advise and coordinate environmental projects and initiatives.
* An 80-100 year old windmill and educational display entitled, Harnessing the Wind, has been installed in Jester Center Residence Hall to educate students about the history of windmills in Texas and our alternative energy/wind power capabilities.
* The DHFS Green Team consists of staff and students who meet monthly to develop and promote environmental initiatives. This team is an expansion of the previous, Environmental Action Team (EAT) that began in summer 2008.
* DHFS Student Focus Groups discuss topics ranging from vegetarian dining options, to food waste, to recycling.
* The Green Scene newsletter is published each semester and includes news on DHFS' environmental initiatives and "Eco-tips" on topics ranging from alternative transportation to green computing.
* Multiple interns work with the DHFS Environmental Specialist each semester to learn about sustainable business practices in housing and food service operations.
* Foodservice staff wear green Texas t-shirts every Tuesday to promote awareness of DHFS' commitment to sustainability.
* In Fall 2008, as Eco-Jeopardy game was played in the residence halls on both sides of campus.
* The University Residence Hall Association co-sponsors annual residence hall energy competitions.
* Holiday Break: Energy saving tips are included in the closing newsletter to staff. Staff inspect resident rooms to make sure students have turned off and/or unplugged computers and appliances.
* Participation in Earth Day, Campus Sustainability Day and Earth Summit. Samples of local foods are given to students as well as informational flyers.
* Table tents and cafeteria signs educate students about sustainability issues.
* Partner with Student Government, the University Residence Hall Association, and the Campus Environmental Center to raise student awareness and involvement.
* Materials are distributed to Resident Assistants to make informational posters on environmental initiatives.

Current Guidelines and Future Goals

* Seek out and review products that are energy saving and/or made of recycled materials before making purchasing decisions.
* Purchase Energy Star rated appliances when able.
* Develop an Energy Star model residence hall room to show savings from energy efficient appliances.
* "Green" cleaning chemicals for use in residence halls.
* Development of a reusable to-go container program.
* Composting of all food waste and biodegradable serviceware to be used on our campus grounds.
* Long-term tracking of natural resource usage and waste diversion percentages.

SOURCE: DHFS at University of Texas at Austin

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