Sustainability is the newest buzzword in Aggieland and it looks as though it's here to stay, notes Kelly Wellman, who heads green initiatives at Texas A&M University.
Wellman, whose title is "sustainability officer" in the Division of Operations, says that while the office she heads is partly responsible for the growing movement to be more "green," she gives major credit to the students' "green" movement.
"Despite which came first, this chicken or egg concept of sustainability has staying power," Wellman states.
"We have seen many changes to the campus that students, faculty, staff and alumni can be proud of," she adds. "The sheer growth of campus events and enthusiasm displayed toward the green movement is an indicator of this success."
She notes that the Residence Hall Energy Challenge is one of many initiatives undertaken on campus that underscores sustainability interest at Texas A&M. The challenge is a competition between residence halls to determine which can save the most energy over a set period, based on benchmarked data.
The 2009 energy-reduction competition involved 27 of the university's residence halls and was conducted with the support of a $10,000 grant from Johnson Controls. Although the challenge itself is not a new initiative on campus, 2009 marked the first time a major sponsor was secured by the university.
"We were excited to work closely in helping the Sustainability Office and Texas A&M University reduce its energy consumption through the Energy Challenge," said Beth Younger, higher education account representative with Johnson Controls. "In fact, our director of higher education for North America, my boss's boss, Jim Simpson, is an Aggie."
Students residing in Underwood Hall continue to distinguish themselves as sustainability advocates extraordinaire. They won the Residence Hall Energy Challenge by reducing energy consumption more than 35 percent during the competition time period.
As the grand prize award, the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life representatives elected to install water-bottle filling stations in Underwood Hall as a means of encouraging residents to fill reusable water bottles rather than use disposables.
After the successful test of a prototype unit for several months, the filling stations are being installed on each of the four floors of the dorm on the southeast side of the campus. Present and future thirsty Underwood Aggies will be the beneficiaries.
On Monday at 5:30 p.m., Underwood Hall residents will receive a pizza party to celebrate completion of the water stations. To boot, the first 50 students to attend will be given T-shirts sporting the university's new sustainability logo.