- The university has an office for sustainability and employs a director for sustainability.
- The Sustainability Council has worked on many projects to make the campus more environmentally friendly, addressing recycling, green building, academic programs and research, trayless dining, renewable energy, and transportation around campus.
- A ten-year sustainability campus action plan has been submitted to the school president for approval.
- Buildings and renovation projects strive to meet or exceed LEED Silver standards, and the university is creating a formal green building policy.
- The school is aiming for LEED certification on four future buildings.
- Starr County Upper-Level Center meets LEED criteria. It features a reflective roof for better insulation, and some of its construction materials came from local sources. UTPA is also renovating four additional buildings to meet LEED criteria, including two projects that will repurpose existing vacant structures.
- Energy-efficient technologies installed in buildings include LED lights, lighting sensors, timers for temperature control, variable speed drives, and energy management systems.
- Monetary savings from lighting efficiency retrofits in five buildings have been used to retrofit lights in three more buildings.
- To save water, buildings feature water metering, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow faucets.
- Non-potable water is used on campus, and landscaping utilizes native plants, which require less water.
Climate Change & Energy
- Plant personnel are provided with training to improve the operation and efficiency of the campus’s HVAC systems and chillers.
- Power management has been enabled on computers, and the school conducts campaigns to encourage members of the campus community to save energy.
- Wind turbines are being designed at the Coastal Studies lab to provide renewable energy for the facility.
- Solar arrays are installed on the engineering building. Part of the engineering curriculum involves monitoring these systems. Solar panels will also be installed on the College of Education building, and students in the education program will use them to teach others about renewable energy.
- Emergency call phones on the UTPA campus are also powered by solar technology.
- Many traditional materials are recycled on campus, including aluminum, cardboard, paper, and all plastics.
- A cardboard compactor has in the cafeteria allows UTPA to recycle six tons of cardboard per month.
- The school also recycles tires, motor oil, batteries, light bulbs, computers, cell phones, and printer cartridges.
- Yard waste is composted.
- Unwanted office furniture and equipment is refurbished and reused.
- The university has set double-sided printing as the default on school printers and is eliminating individual office printers to reduce cartridge waste.
- The Sustainability Campus Action Plan stipulates that the university will support sustainable food vendors.
- Trays have been removed from the dining halls to reduce food waste and water and energy use.
- Students who bring reusable mugs, purchased from the student union, receive discounts on their coffee.
- The university has brought speakers to campus, including former president Bill Clinton and Robert Kennedy, to discuss environmental issues.
- The Environmental Awareness Club hosts an Earth Day event, which includes a seed planting project and a campus clean-up. The club also hosts a clean-up of a nearby beach and coordinates recycling for major events.
- Students in communication classes have developed media campaigns to raise awareness about sustainability.
- The Office for Sustainability offers internships and plans to begin an Eco-Rep program featuring student green leaders in residence halls.
- Environmental studies is offered as an academic major and minor.
- The course catalog is being updated to indicate all courses that offer sustainability-related content.
- Students, faculty, and staff at UTPA can ride for free on local city buses.
- The university provides a shuttle service to remote parking lots.
- Bike lanes have been created around campus, and bike racks have been installed.
- Campus police use electric scooters and bicycles to travel around campus. Electric golf carts have also been purchased for the physical plant fleet.
- Many courses are offered online, allowing students to telecommute.
- The Student Government Association uses a website to connect students who wish to carpool.