Earth Week celebrates UTEP’s green actions, future
April 15, 2011 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
The University of Texas at El Paso has made great strides during the past decade to "green" the campus and the mentality and ability of the Miner Nation, especially its students.
Past achievements and future endeavors will be celebrated during the University's 3rd annual Earth Week festivities that begin Monday, April 18.
The week's agenda includes fun and educational events such as walking tours of the campus and the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, an outdoor movie experience, and the popular Earth Day Celebration April 21 that includes live music acts, information booths and sports activities on Memorial Triangle.
"UTEP is committed to continue engaging in green initiatives both on- and off-campus. They enable us to provide exciting educational opportunities for our students and work with off-campus partners to improve the quality of life in the Paso del Norte region," said UTEP President Diana Natalicio, who will offer an opening proclamation at 1:30 p.m. April 18 at Memorial Triangle. "We hope that this year's Earth Week celebration on our campus will inspire our students, staff, faculty and the entire El Paso community to do more to conserve and protect our Earth's resources."
Eduardo Cervantes, a senior chemistry major, said he looked forward to the event because of his lifelong interest in the environment.
Cervantes and members of his Club 0 math team, plan to have a booth at the April 21 Earth Day event where they will demonstrate how to make recycled paper, and participate in the "Watt Dog" competition, where teams use home-made solar ovens to cook weenies. The contest begins at 11:30 a.m. that day.
"I consider myself an ecologist. I make my own recycled paper and separate my garbage," he said. "I even pick up trash at school because I hate to see my campus dirty."
Students, staff and faculty can learn about recycling from Facilities Services experts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Memorial Triangle.
Campus officials will have the opportunity to speak about its many efforts to reduce the University's carbon footprint during a symposium from 10:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday, April 20, in the Union Plaza (between Union Buildings East and West).
Officials including Greg McNicol, associate vice president for facilities services, may discuss the construction methods used throughout the 240-acre campus's classrooms, research labs, parking garages and fitness centers as well as the space around them.
Some examples of the ways Facilities Services has made the University more sustainable include the replacement of fluorescent bulbs with more energy efficient ones, the installation of motion-senor light controls in common areas, an updated irrigation control system, and an aggressive recycling program that includes paper and aluminum products.
The different efforts save the University about $2.5 million annually on energy costs.
McNicol said a portion of the University's new 10-year master plan is focused on methods to encourage more walking on campus. They include fewer parking spaces and wider sidewalks that include benches, tables and shade trees.
The most prominent example will be along Hawthorne Street from University Avenue to Rim Road. There also is a plan for a natural amphitheater and green areas between the College of Engineering and new Chemistry and Computer Sciences buildings. All of these projects should be ready by December 2011.
"The changes to the spaces between buildings will be like night and day," McNicol said.
Ed Soltero, UTEP's director of planning and construction, has called the campus an environmental lab that can show communities what can be done with fleets of electric and biodiesel vehicles and landscaping that can lower temperatures around buildings.
The University's curriculum also has changed to give students the kinds of environmental skills and knowledge needed for tomorrow's workforce.
The nation has made "clean energy/green economy" a high priority and it is institutions of higher education that will be at the forefront of change, said Heidi Taboada-Jimenez, Ph.D., assistant professor of industrial, manufacturing & systems engineering.
She said the College of Engineering has adopted sustainability as a major thrust in its strategic plan that involves research, education and outreach by faculty and students.
Some of the more exciting additions are the creation of a doctoral track in energy science, and new courses in the fields of sustainability engineering, design for sustainability, renewable energy systems, and green manufacturing.
"There is clearly a bright future for sustainability and green energy graduates; and UTEP offers students a wide variety of opportunities to be part of the next generation of sustainable energy leaders," she said.
The most up-to-date schedule of UTEP's Earth Week events can be found at www.admin.utep.edu/earthweek.
Originally posted on News @ UTEP.