TCU Environmental Initiatives
Energy conservation. Since 1996, the University has pursued an aggressive energy conservation and retrofit program, spending in excess of $43 million. Projects include:
- Retrofitting of lighting systems. Energy efficient lighting fixtures, bulbs and controls have been installed campus wide. Motion sensors to turn lights on and off have been installed in numerous facilities. All PCB containing ballasts have been replaced as have incandescent light bulbs.
- Infrared Surveys. Building envelopes, electrical switch gear and roofs have been surveyed to identify and correct energy waste accordingly.
- Energy Management and Control System (EMCS). A state-of-the-art EMCS is used to monitor and control building energy use on a 24/7 basis.
- Low-flow fixtures. In TCU’s newest dorms utilize a variety of water conservation measures including low-flow showerheads and toilets equipped with variable flow levers allowing users to chose how much water is necessary for each flush.
- Automatic temperatures. TCU is working to reduce its campus carbon footprint by installing carbon dioxide sensors in large conference rooms that can sense how many people are in a room and automatically adjusting the heating and air-conditioning.
- Hot water. TCU is investigating the use of a solar system to heat the university swimming pool.
- Chiller plants. TCU operates three high efficiency chiller plants on campus, one of which has an ice storage capacity that produces ice overnight when utility rates are typically lower. The ice is then used to cool buildings during the day. TCU has also upgraded heating and air-conditioning systems to improve efficiency and uses a state-state-of-the-art energy management system to monitor and control building energy use.
- Downsizing vehicles. TCU’s Physical Plant has downsized from full-sized trucks to compact vehicles and electric golf carts to lower costs and reduce emissions.
- Use and reuse vehicles. In general, TCU utilizes and maintains work vehicles to the most reasonable extent possible, thereby avoiding unnecessary addition of new work vehicles.
- Upgrading sprinklers. TCU has worked to reduce water by making sure sprinklers are only used when needed, with 95 percent of campus sprinklers upgraded to automatic and programmed to stop running when it’s raining.
- LEED certified building. The university has a stated goal to design new buildings and major retrofits for LEED certification.
- Scharbauer Hall, a 74,000 square foot academic facility currently under construction, will be registered for LEED certification.
- Certified staff. The University has four LEED-certified engineers and architects.
- Brown-Lupton University Union. Construction of the new University Union incorporated many LEED initiatives, construction materials and practices. These included use of paints low in volatile organic compounds, which can diminish air quality, carpeting made of recycled materials, and environmentally friendly building materials and finishes.
Recycling and saving resources:
- Dining. When disposable food-service items are needed, TCU dining services is using SpudWare, cutlery made from 80-percent potato starch and 20-percent soy oil that biodegrades in just 180 days, and Ecotainers, chlorine-free cups with an inner lining made of corn instead of petroleum that can be easily composted. In the main dining hall no disposable items will be used. A few campus locations offer fair trade coffee. The University eliminated the use of food trays in all dining services in Fall ‘08.
- Paper trail. TCU recycles approximately 75 percent of the paper waste generated in academic and administrative facilities. Recycled materials are placed in specially identified containers for transport to a local recycling facility. The remaining 25 percent of paper waste comes from residential areas where recycling has not been effective due to contamination of paper products. Specially marked containers are used at athletic events to collect recyclable cans and plastic bottles. The practice reduces clean-up time after events and keeps material out of the landfill.
- Going Paperless. A number of offices and processes at TCU are now paperless, including financial services, financial aid, human resources, the registration process and room sign-ups in residential services. Instead of making copies, professors post class assignments and other handouts online.
- Reusing refuse. TCU runs most yard material (trimmings, tree limbs, etc.) through a chipper for reuse in plant beds. Pavestone and parking bumpers are recovered, cleaned and reused. Construction debris and excess materials are collected and recycled.
- Recycling old buildings. When TCU demolished its old Student Center, a good portion of the useable building materials and finishes were salvaged for use by local charities instead of heading to the landfill — churches and a local homeless shelter snagged the ballroom’s wooden floors and antique chandeliers among other items. The remaining 92 percent of materials were recycled during demolition.
- Facility energy audit. A comprehensive facility energy audit is scheduled to identify areas where the University can improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption. To date, a comprehensive audit has been performed on Winton Scott.
Academic initiatives and student activities:
- Energy Institute and the Institute for Environmental Studies. The Energy Institute is providing academic support and research in various energy arenas, including the Barnett Shale and several alternate energy sources like solar and wind. TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies, which works closely with the Energy Institute, is partnering with Oxford University and FPL Energy in a five-year, $3.2 million research study examining the impact wind farms have on the avian population.
- Tropical Research Station – Costa Rica. The Institute for Environmental Studies recently completed a research station in the cloud forests of Costa Rica. The facility sleeps 20 students and will be TCU’s base for studies on sustainability in Latin America.
- Saving the green macaw. On Earth Day, TCU students staged a fundraising concert to benefit endangered green macaws in Costa Rica. The students raised $3,000 to buy two nesting trees, purchase and plant 18 new saplings and support a new rehabilitation center for the macaws.
- Energy Futures Conference. In 2007, TCU Students hosted an Energy Futures Conference to bring together academics and business people to discuss the issue of our changing energy situation. Students are currently planning a second conference for April of 2009.
- Eco Frog Camp. This summer, incoming TCU freshman had the option of attending the four-day Eco Frog Camp, an environmentally friendly pre-orientation camp that emphasized sustainable living and community involvement, including weeding a community children’s garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.
- Free public transportation. To encourage use of public transportation, TCU students, faculty and staff can take Fort Worth/Dallas public transportation free of charge. In addition, the Facilities Master Plan moved parking to the perimeter of the campus to support a pedestrian and bike-friendly campus.
- Purple bike programs. TCU’s Purple Bike Program allows students, faculty and staff to check out and ride 49 purple bicycles around campus instead of driving. The program is partially funded by donations of “carbon offsets” made at www.envirofootprint.org.
- Green roofs. TCU Environmental Sciences graduate student Jon Kinder and David Williams are researching which plants and soil types will perform best atop Texas roofs for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, which will use the research to design a 20,000 square-foot green roof for its new building adjacent to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
- Green Living-Learning community. This fall, 42 TCU students will embrace eco-friendly practices in a new Living Learning Community dubbed “Green House” where residents will hold periodic recycling contests and harvest produce from an organic community garden.
- Environmental Club. Adduco Viridis: TCU Environmental Club adopted 27 acres in Trinity Park along the Trinity River in Fort Worth, where members periodically pick up debris, recycling cans and bottles when possible.
- President’s Climate Commitment. TCU signed the President’s Climate Commitment and has vowed to address the climate challenge by eliminating global warming emissions and by integrating sustainability into the curriculum.
- Environmental Council. Formed to develop ways to implement the President’s Climate Commitment promise and oversee all green initiatives on campus.
- Likelihood of engaging in green initiatives. The Center for
Applied Psychology is hoping to develop cognitive/behavioral tools with regional organizations to help individuals and organizations more easily adopt and sustain green lifestyles/initiatives.
- Society of Sustainability. A club designed to focus on sustainability issues and collaborate with other TCU members for programming and events.
- The Great Tree Ring. TCU began this program as a way to nurture and celebrate trees.
- Green theme semester. To support the “Think purple, live green” theme during the 2008 semester, the University will sponsor environmental awareness activities, faculty will incorporate green lessons into classes and other marketing and student activities will focus on environmental stewardship.
- Courses offered
- Sustainability class. At TCU, about a hundred students enroll each semester in the Sociology class “Sustainability is Sexy,” where the homework assignments include producing a youtube.com video showcasing the university’s various green initiatives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hpu67XFVPI
- Environmental Stewardship. Offered each year in Environmental Sciences.
- Chasing Carbon. An applied projects course offered for multiple consecutive semesters in Environmental Sciences to support the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
- Sustainability and Education. A masters’ level course taught in the College of Education.
- Environmental Justice, Human Rights & Agriculture. Offered by the Anthropology department.
- Anthropological Approaches to Nature & the Sacred. Offered by the Anthropology department.
- Special Problems in Geography. Offered in Fall 2008, it researched building 25 miles of alternative transportation in Dallas.
Video examples of TCU’s green initiatives can be found on the TCU YouTube channel at www.youtube/tcu as well as the ‘Think Green, Live Purple’ theme semester site