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NEWS CENTER

UTA WATER CONSERVATION EFFORTS LEAD WAY FOR SUSTAINABLE URBAN COMMUNITIES

Monday, February 29, 2016

Media Contact: Hillary Green, Office: 817-272-9208, hgreen@uta.edu

News Topics: alumni, energy, sustainability

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The University of Texas at Arlington has decreased campus water usage by 13 percent since 2009 through a focused water conservation program despite increasing the gross square footage of campus building space by 14 percent.

The efficiencies range from improvements to the University’s Thermal Energy Plant to water recapture systems, and weather-savvy irrigation and low-flow showerheads throughout student housing. The efforts enabled UTA to avoid $1.1 million in water expenses between 2009 and 2015, allowing the University to focus more resources on providing students a world-class education at an affordable price.

John Hall, vice president for Administration and Campus Operations, said the achievement demonstrates that each area of the University can help shape sustainable urban communities, one of the four guiding themes of UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

"The efforts of the entire UTA community have positioned the campus to make a substantial difference in our water consumption,” Hall said. “UTA students, faculty and staff have worked together on all levels to develop a more sustainable campus community.”

The achievement is especially important in light of a water-constrained future across North Texas, said Meghna Tare, executive director of the UTA Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact. The Institute works with the UTA community and outside partners to assist and coordinate many of the University’s sustainability initiatives.

"Students attending a university that places high value on sustainable operations and education are more likely to take this mindset to their future places of employment,” Tare said. “We hope that our leadership and accomplishment towards water conservation will serve as an example for other educational institutions.”

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, added: “All Texans have a stake in ensuring that our water resources are used wisely, and with the drought conditions we have experienced in recent years this is an urgent need. When universities like UTA step up and take the lead on water conservation, they set the standard for other major users to follow.”

Details of UTA’s water conservation efforts include:

  • Installation of low-flow showerheads in 1,600 showers
  • Retrofitted restrooms with low-flow toilets and sinks
  • Updated campus irrigation system to reduce water usage by an estimated 20 to 40 percent
  • Collaboration between UTA professors, independent landscape designers and the city of Arlington to use native plant species to minimize irrigation requirements
  • Upgraded heating and cooling system steam traps to capture and recirculate steam condensate
  • Installation of 28,000-gallon capacity rainwater collection system
  • Two 2,000-gallon rain water collection system at the campus Community Garden on campus

UTA also is designing the new 200,000-square-foot Science and Engineering Innovation and Research Building with sustainability in mind. The building will feature a number of water-saving plumbing features, including high-efficiency mechanical systems, when it opens in fall 2018 on the south end of the main campus.

Other notable UTA sustainability efforts include 1,638 photovoltaic panels atop UTA’s Park North and Park Central parking garages and a food waste reduction program recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency.

UTA’s College Park Center earned a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council for the venue’s incorporation of recycled construction materials, natural light and many energy-saving features.

The Green at College Park immediately south of College Park Center expands on the arena’s sustainable strategies with a storm water management plan, use of native plants, advanced irrigation technologies and and participation in the Sustainable SITES Initiative, a comprehensive rating system for sustainable landscapes administered by Green Business Certification Inc.

The U.S. Green Building Council has also certified UTA’s Engineering Research Building as a LEED Gold structure and rated the College Park District as a LEED Silver. The LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.

Many of UTA’s strategic research initiatives include efforts focused on energy or water conservation and delivery. Researchers, for example, are devising more efficient materials for solar fuel cells, increasing energy production at landfills and creating more sustainable infrastructure.

“UTA is on a path to not only continue these conservation efforts but to expand campus environmental stewardship,” Hall said.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie “highest research activity” institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit http://www.uta.eduto learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at http://www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.