The Office of Sustainability celebrates Campus Sustainability Month in October, demonstrating how the UTA community strives to make the university more environmentally friendly.
This semester, the Student Senate introduced two environmental resolutions, and Chief Sustainability Officer Meghna Tare created the Sustainability Committee this summer to implement various programs at UTA.
Hanan Boukhaima, College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs student senator, is the author of resolution 21-07, “EPA Net Zero Partnership,” and resolution 21-08, “Green, Clean, Solar Dream.”
Both resolutions seek to make UTA a more environmentally conscious campus by joining the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership and installing solar panels on the roofs of 14 buildings.
“This is my first semester as a student senator, and of course, environmental issues are important to me,” said Boukhaima, urban planning and public policy doctoral student. “I just want to make sure that I am not negatively impacting the environment and at least leaving it as clean as I did find it.”
UTA has great programs, she said. But there is still room for improvement.
“I want to make sure that UTA is doing its best to reduce our carbon footprint and also reduce the greenhouse emissions,” she said.
The nitrogen oxide levels in the area are higher than the standard the EPA has set, she said.
In 2018, EPA designated Tarrant County as 1 out of 9 Texas counties to be a nonattainment area, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Nonattainment refers to any area that does not meet the national standard of air quality, according to the EPA.
Boukhaima is also the president of Mavs Go Green, a student organization. One of the major programs the organization focuses on is the Food Recovery Network. In collaboration with Maverick Dining, members collect food that isn’t used and take it to a shelter in Arlington twice a week, she said.
Tare said UTA has implemented a lot of programs with a solid focus on recycling, waste management, energy efficiency and transportation in the last 10 years.
“I really like and love the fact that UTA has a very strong collaborative partnership with entities outside of UTA,” she said.
Some of these entities include the North Central Texas Council of Governments, local governments, nonprofits, grassroot organizations and food banks, she said.
Walkable Arlington is one of the grassroots movements involved with UTA’s Office of Sustainability. The movement advocates for more walkable spaces and greater transportation options in Arlington. The movement is working with the school’s bike committee to make campus more bike friendly, according to the office’s website.
“We are bringing together this campus community which really wants to support a culture of biking on campus,” Tare said.
Tare also said the Electronic Waste Recycling program’s relaunch has been successful. The Office has placed 14 bins around campus to hold and recycle electronic waste like computer equipment, cell phones and digital cameras, among others.
Most students are conscious about recycling since they do it in their everyday life, she said.
Morgan Chivers, FabLab librarian and chair of the Sustainability Committee, said he helped recycle books that hadn’t been circulated for quite some time during his time as the chair of the Libraries Office Greening Initiatives Committee. In a normal workflow, these books would go to book resellers instead, he said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was a window of opportunity for large collections management projects in libraries, Chivers said.
A large amount of the books that hadn’t been circulated in a while did not have a good chance of resale, which was something the market wasn’t ready to bear, he said.
This committee recycled 73 tons of paper, ensuring that these books wouldn’t end up in a landfill or get sold for a measly price, he said.
Having UTA be a part of systems that are actively helping address the climate issue helps the campus exist within an ethical realm, he said.
He believes the changes and decisions individuals make in their life do matter, he said. And they matter more in a collective group of people.