Tech's lack of 'green' policies decried by magazine
By Marlena Hartz | Avalanche-Journal
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Story last updated at 9/2/2008 - 12:28 pm
The cherry red flowers that stand like speechless ambassadors near the Texas Tech campus' main entrance are being doused with water. A groundskeeper in a wide-brimmed hat drags a hose along the flower bed, taking care to deliver an even shower. It's nearly noon and the relentless sun bakes the ground below.
Seems an idyllic scene, but it's practices like this that have landed Texas Tech on a popular magazine's bad list and have some students wishing for campus-wide environmentally friendly policies.
In the latest issue of The Sierra Club's "Sierra" magazine, Tech is named one of five schools in the nation failing to implement such policies. The club is the oldest and largest grass roots environmental group in the nation.
Tech has no campus-wide sustainment policies or unified water-conservation plans, according to the magazine. Simply watering the grounds at night instead of the day could cut the university's water needs by up to 25 percent, "Sierra" found.
"At the very least, Tech should get a better water plan," said Raymond Sottilare, an 18-year-old Tech freshman from Plano who plans to major in political science.
Two facilities and grounds officials (the university's vice chancellor for facilities planning and construction, Mike Ellicott, and the managing director of the grounds management department, Douglas Chowning) declined to comment for this story.
The chairman of the board which has the authority to implement policies at Tech admits the university is, environmentally speaking, behind some of its peers, but green policies will likely be implemented in the future, he said. Already, officials have committed to pursing the campus' first ever green building certificate.
"Most Texans haven't thought about (green policies) as much as people in other states because we've had low energy costs for years and it's been something that we just haven't worried about. I would say the whole state's probably behind," said Scott Dueser, a banker from Abilene who chairs the Tech System Board of Regents.
Ever-rising energy prices will soon force the board to find ways to slash Tech's energy costs, Dueser predicted. But board members don't want to be micro-managers, he said, and will leave decisions like watering times to Tech employees.
Andrew Vasquez said leaders should be more pro-active. The 18-year-old Tech freshman from San Antonio would like to see a comprehensive recycling program on campus, night time watering of grounds and green construction. As a large organization with clout, his school has a responsibility to set an example for other Texas businesses, large and small, he said.
Landing on "Sierra's" bad list "doesn't bring a lot of good feelings. But in a way, it's good, we can try to fix it," Vasquez, a math major, said. "(But) a lot of people don't think it's a big deal," he added.
Other universities are taking big steps to reduce their environmental footprints, "Sierra" found.
Wind turbines at Middlebury College in Vermont, for instance, power a recycling center, according to the magazine. The University of Vermont at Burlington buys 35 percent of its dining hall food from local farmers.
Universities "represent thousands of people. A lot can essentially be small cities, so they have to address (best environmental practices)," said Josie Garthwaite, "Sierra" lifestyles editor.
Those that don't can waste a lot of money and needlessly impact the environment, she said.
"I hope to see Tech on that shining star list next year," said Garthwaite, referring to another list "Sierra" compiled of 10 colleges that go above and beyond to combat global warming. The list also appears in the magazine's latest issue.
Soon, Tech may have the building to win "Sierra's" praise.
Planners will seek U.S. Green Building Council certification for the university's new College of Business Administration building.
A sampling of green plans for the $70 million building: waterless urinals, individually controlled thermostats and recycled carpets, said Hugh Cronin, the project manager.
Officials would like to begin construction on the building no later than December 2009, but that's dependent on the success of fund raising efforts, Cronin said.
"The goal is (to) have a building that operates more efficiently and uses less energy over time. The small up-front capital costs? We'll see those recouped somewhere down the road," said Cronin, who sees more green construction in Tech's future. "It just makes sense," he said.
Posted by: jchughej at Sep. 2, 2008 at 5:54:30 am
Dodging rotating sprinklers is a Texas Tech tradition. You must observe the sprinkler's changes, and decide whether to run for it or wait for another rotation. It develops mental acuity, flexibility, and agility. Sometimes, I'd go find sprinklers when I didn't have to. It is fun seeing a guy show for class with a wet arm or hair. Lubbock cares not about this mag. J.H
Posted by: davesnews63 at Sep. 2, 2008 at 6:40:18 am
Water Issues are a real concern for every business state owned or not. But get real this Global Warming Is bull. Its just another way to get in the pockets of the have's. sensable people are not against alt. energys but we need to keep our standing as the most giving country in the world along with going "green".We are also the cleanest developed country In the world.
Posted by: w__cummings at Sep. 2, 2008 at 8:54:46 am
As the ebbs and flows of global climate change are better understood, everyone will laugh at the histeria support by the likes of Al Gore, however, saving water is just common sense.
I would like to see Tech follow the city's irrigation ordinance and face stiff penalties when it doesn't. I don't appreciate getting sprayed with water at NOON while walking down the SIDEWALK near the football practice fields.
Global warming may be a farce, but water is still a precious commodity here in West Texas.
Posted by: scottyboo at Sep. 2, 2008 at 9:13:10 am
In your best Scarlet O'Hara voice: "Lawdy, how is Tech evea gonna suhvive without Sierra Club's blessin?"