Accolades for helping our community breathe cleaner air
By Betsy Friauf
The Health Science Center supports cleaner air with several initiatives, including helping employees get to and from work with as little air pollution as possible.
These efforts were honored recently with the Outstanding Partner Involvement Award from Air North Texas, the regional clean-air campaign through the North Central Texas Council of Governments. ANT’s mission is to improve air quality as 10 North Texas counties strive to meet Environmental Protection Agency regulations for ozone pollution.
UNTHSC’s advocacy efforts helped with recruiting UT Southwestern Medical Center for ANT partnership. Also, UNTHSC hosted the North Central Texas Council of Governments at its annual Earth Day celebration, participated in the city of Fort Worth’s Bike to Work Day in May and continued a program with The T to subsidize bus and train E-passes for students and employees.
“This award recognizes our university’s efforts to do our part to improve the region’s air quality and therefore make our community a better place to live,” said UNTHSC Sustainability Coordinator Sandy Bauman. “Through our sustainability efforts, we are helping to improve public health while educating our campus community on the issues and providing opportunities to participate in the efforts.”
Here are a few of UNTHSC’s recent clean-air activities:
- Increased the number of people participating in Clean Air Action Day from 15 to 203.
- At Earth Day fair, provided test drives of electric cars, plus educational booths about energy savings and cleaner air.
- Subsidizes transit passes for the Trinity Railway Express, light rail and buses by 75 percent.
- Provides a 20 percent parking discount for low-emitting vehicles to more than 200 people.
- Sponsored the first commuter vanpool at a Metroplex university.
- Sponsors Fort Worth Bike Share.
- See more clean air activities
Since its establishment in 2012, the UNTHSC Office of Sustainability, a part of Facilities Management, has instituted several programs. Here is a sampling of results:
- Kept more than 870,000 plastic water bottles out of the waste stream. Twenty-six water fountains on campus are equipped with quick-fill, no-touch taps that employees and students use to fill reusable bottles.
- Diverted more than a ton of batteries from landfills.
- Recycled nearly 2.5 tons of electric lamps and ballasts, plus another 5,800 lamps and ballasts.
- Recycled nearly 2.5 tons of ink cartridges.
- Recycled nearly 4 tons of e-waste (such as computers and cellphones) collected from the community on Earth Day.
- Started a pilot program in seven laboratories to make them more energy-efficient.
- Expanded the all-organic Community Garden, finishing 35 plots six months ahead of schedule. The garden:
- Converted an unused tract of lawn into a space for organic food production.
- Donates one-fourth of its produce, about 485 servings this year, to a local food pantry.
- Recycles more than 80 pounds of kitchen trimmings into compost weekly.
- Encourages use of native and adapted plants.
As a whole, UNTHSC’s sustainability programs help fulfill our mission of creating healthier communities, and move us toward our goal of becoming a Great Place to Work.