Resource Consumption Visualization Project

Year: 2012

Grant Amount: $36,100

The Resource Consumption Visualization Project explored the potential for creating a web-accessible visualization of campus energy and water consumption. This visualization would enable the campus community to become aware of the trends and peaks (highs, lows, averages, deltas), which is the first step in developing sustainable conservation practices and participation across campus. The project provided research opportunities for graduate students and undergraduates, and forged first-time partnerships between campus departments.

Information about campus energy and water usage is currently invisible to campus members. Making this information visible to the campus community is a foundational piece in beginning both awareness and conscientious usage of natural resources.

Benefit-Cost Analysis of Reduced Ventilation in Lab Bldg

Year: 2012

Grant amount: $50,000

Air quality is not only important for our health, but it impacts our environment as well. Facilities Maintenance partnered with six labs in Welch to utilize air quality sensors. Via these sensors, labs are able to regulate how much and how often the vents need to be open. The sensors automatically adjust ventilation rates for optimal safety and energy efficiency. Ventilation needs are lower when the air is clean, and higher when the air contains particulate matter, regardless if people are working in there or not.

With the addition of air quality sensors to six labs, Welch saved over $14,000 dollars in one year, with an ROI of 3.05 years.

Solar Charging Stations

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Year: 2011, 2013

Grant Amount: $54,800 (2011) and $51,000 (2013)

Sol Design Lab collaborated with students and staff to design and install two solar charging and study stations for UT students on campus. The stations increase awareness about solar energy mainly through their extreme visibility, but also through signage on the station explaining how the stations work, and the benefits of solar energy. The 2011 grant funded a workshop on solar power, which engaged students in learning more in-depth concepts on how to maintain and build solar units. The charging stations make solar power available to all students and have received publicity from the Alcalde, the online blog Inhabitat, and SXSW.

The combined grants given to a team of individual students (2011) and SURGe (2013) meant that two stations were installed simultaneously in June 2014 in front of the Perry-Casteneda Library and at the corner of 23rd and San Jacinto, near the Art Building and across from Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. Each station includes power outlets for charging devices such as laptops and phones, and has wheelchair accessible seating available.

Green Roof at the LBJ Wildflower Center

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Year: 2012

Grant amount: $39,540

This project will rehabilitate a “dead zone” at the Wildflower Center while providing an opportunity to develop best practices for green roofs on main campus. This is an area of great interest for students and the rest of the UT community and the Green Fee Committee is endorsing a close study of costs, longevity, and potential academic applications.

Green roofs slow the amount of runoff on a roof and even can act as a water purifier. Furthermore, they provide great insulation as well as a weapon against the urban heat island effect. They also add aesthetic value to structures.

Note: These are photos of green roof research being done at The Wildflower Center, the Green Fee funded roof will go on a section of the roof at the visitor center.

Project Owner: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Solar Panels at The Facilities Complex

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Year: 2011

Grant Amount: $75,000

UT was awarded $1.1 million from the TX State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to install 200+ kW of solar PV arrays:  30 kW at the Manor Parking Garage and 175 kW at the Facilities complex on Manor Road. These installations serve together as a showpiece, a teaching tool in the classroom, and a research test bed that help establish UT as a leader in renewable energy and help us train energy leaders.  In addition, this project provides charging stations for electric vehicles, generates 267,000 kWh of clean energy each year, and avoids 62.5 tons of carbon emissions.  Green Fee contributed $75,000 to complete the installation, and help fund an undergraduate research assistant, who built a web-based interface to be used as a teaching tool. The solar panels were installed on top of the Manor Garage, and on top of the FC3 building. These panels bring in an annual offset of $38,268 in energy savings, and 512,000 lbs of CO2 less per year.

This video shows a time lapse of the installation:

Occupancy Sensors in McCombs School of Business

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Year: 2012

Grant Amount: $5,635

With funding from the Green Fee, nine occupancy sensors were installed in select rooms in The McCombs School of Business building. These sensors reduce energy use and increase energy efficiency in the Business School. The project is owned by a student-led team and facilities services.

The sensors turn lights off in rooms when there is no occupancy, and turn them on once people walk in. Each sensors will save an average of $64.06 and 970.56 kilowatts per year. By reducing our energy use, we can lower energy costs as well as lower our emissions as a university!

Excess funds from this project were transferred to the Energy & Water Conservation Program to support installation of LED illumination in the archives collection area, which had an immediate financial impact as well as assisting in the preservation of the valuable materials.

Campus Environmental Center Funding

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Years: 2011, 2012, 2013

Grant Amount: $36,000 (2011), $27,100 (2012), $29,950 (2013)

The Campus Environmental Center is located in the Student Services Building (SSB 1.302). Here you’ll find students involved in all sorts of sustainable activities, whether environmental outreach, gardening, water, or recycling initiatives. There is also a library of sustainability and green living-themed books and movies that students can borrow. The Campus Environmental Center is the place to be if you want to be connected to the heartbeat of UT Sustainability.

The Green Fee augments UT Campus Environmental Center funding by adding student employment positions. The Green Fee funded a Graduate Program Assistant, who focuses on providing assistance to the programs and initiatives for the organization. The Green Fee has additionally supported Orange Bike program assistants (prior to their move to Parking & Transportation Services), Concho Community Garden staff, and Tailgate Recycling Team Leaders.

These students have greatly increased the amount of student involvement in sustainable student initiatives and have created groups that are actively bettering the campus and Austin through environmental initiatives.

Visit the CEC website and check out what they’re up to! Don’t be afraid to drop by SSB 1.302 and see what’s new!