TAMIU’s Green Efforts Paying Off, Holds Earth Week 2012 Observance
Posted: 4/19/12

TAMIU’s Green Efforts Paying Off,
Holds Earth Week 2012 Observance

Texas A&M International University is celebrating its ongoing commitment to a “green” campus with its observance of Earth Week 2012, April 23 – 25.

TAMIU student clubs and organizations have joined together to offer a broad spectrum of activities to underscore TAMIU’s commitment to its Green Campus Initiative. 

Malcolm Verdict, Juan J. Castillo, Congressman Henry Cuellar, Dr. Ray Keck
Juan J. Castillo, TAMIU VP for finance and administration, second from left, holds an oversize symbolic check for $634,322, TAMIU's accumulated energy savings using the Green Campus Initiative. Also pictured are from left to right, Malcolm Verdict, associate director, Research Engineer, and senior Project Manager for Continuous Commissioning® at the Energy Systems Laboratory (ESL); Castillo; Cong. Henry Cuellar; Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU President.

At a kick-off press conference Tuesday, students participated in a naming contest for two new solar-powered golf carts, coordinated a guest panel discussion for a film they produced tracing the journey of trash to the Laredo landfill and announced other Earth Week activities.  Students will host a fun “Hug-A-Tree” event, an on-campus paper recycling drive and the construction of a “tree” from recyclable materials. (See Schedule)  

Students were joined by Congressman Henry Cuellar, (MBA ’82), who secured $500,000 in federal funding in 2008 that helped to accelerate TAMIU’s Green Campus Initiative.

Cong. Cuellar said he was impressed with how TAMIU has realized the intent of the federal appropriation dollars.

“I fought to secure these federal dollars for TAMIU because I knew this funding would be in good hands at this visionary University as it works toward its important goal to convert to a green, energy-efficient campus.  I’m impressed with the initiative undertaken here and believe it offers a local, state and national model that others should follow,” Cong. Cuellar said.

TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck said the University’s green leadership is part of its investment in its campus and its students.

“Our TAMIU classrooms nurture the mind, but our environment nurtures our heart and soul.  We’ve dedicated considerable research and resources to making that environment as green-focused as possible. By thinking green now, we are encouraging our students and graduates to think green for generations to come,” Dr. Keck said.

Natalia Rodríguez, president of the new TAMIU Green Club, said students have jumped on the “Green” wagon at TAMIU. (See more photos on Facebook.)

"We have been lucky that there are many TAMIU students who are very passionate about recycling and making our campus and community a cleaner place. So far, we have purchased new recycling bins for TAMIU and we’ve worked on cleanup efforts for a local river. The TAMIU Green Club has plans to continue spreading awareness on campus, especially for our Earth Week. We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to join in our week-long observance,”  Rodríguez said.

Keck said the involvement of TAMIU’s student body in TAMIU’s green initiatives has been pivotal.

“Students have been not only vocal, but involved in this ongoing initiative.  They’ve lead community cleanup efforts along the Rio Grande River and Slaughter Park.  In March, some 250 TAMIU students participated in ‘The Big Event,’ our signature student volunteer event, and helped clean the Eistetter Park area, ” he explained.

Dr. Keck said the shining star of TAMIU’s Campus Sustainability Initiative is its University Success Center (USC), constructed to LEEDS silver standards and which includes an active solar panel array.

“We’re tremendously proud of the USC, which most are probably unaware is one of the area’s leading examples of energy-efficient design and architecture. It’s partly powered by solar panels on its west side and able to maintain a 17.5% energy optimization with an energy-star rated roof, double tinted windows, centralized hot water heater system and building construction featuring low-emitting materials.

“Its parking lot is made of white concrete which makes it cleaner and cooler. It also includes complimentary electric car-charging stations for those students who may drive electric, hybrid vehicles. We have bike racks for students and faculty traveling to campus on ‘green’ bicycles,” Keck continued.

He noted that anyone can log on to the campus’ web site and see a real-time monitor for the TAMIU Solar Array.

“The monitor provides emissions savings, a total power summary, current performance and cumulative results for the array 24-7,” he said.  The monitor is located at: http://lg680.d.lighthousesolar.com/

The Green Campus Initiative is already paying off in a big way, Dr. Keck revealed, presenting an oversize symbolic check to Cong. Cuellar featuring the savings the University has realized.

“TAMIU has accumulated energy savings of $634,322, based on current energy rates, from its Continuous Commissioning® Green Campus initiative, which began in 2009.  We’ve basically saved 1.3 times the original federal appropriation dollars,” he said.

The Green Campus Initiative can be seen throughout TAMIU. 

In on campus housing, clubhouse lighting has been changed to lower energy usage lights and solar screens have been installed to reduce heat gain. Testing of screens at University Village is being undertaken to see if it should be extended to screen all housing rooms.

TAMIU Physical Plant director Richard Gentry said TAMIU has reduced utility expenses, improved air quality, reduced air, land and water impacts on environment and improved students’ learning environments.

“TAMIU incorporates numerous eco-friendly practices into all its daily operations, including an automated irrigation control system, ongoing water conservation research, drought-tolerant vegetation, low-flow faucets, toilets and showerheads and active recycling of all paper, metal, cardboard, and plastic as well as batteries, lights, and phones. TAMIU is a 100% asbestos-free campus and maintains a no-smoking policy around buildings,” Gentry explained.

“Among our recently added green initiatives is the collection of condensation through the University’s air-conditioner system. By recapturing and reusing the collected condensation of the air-conditioning units on campus, about 1,000,000 gallons of water are collected and reused a year,” he noted.

“As a community, we can all do something in our daily lives to reduce our impact on our environment. We lessen our carbon footprint on the world by conserving our resources on our campus. As an institution of learning, TAMIU wants to help create energy-conscious graduates. The University is committed to providing greener options for our students,” Gentry continued.

TAMIU was a recent recipient of the Green Community Award presented by KGNS, the CW and Telemundo Laredo.

For additional information on TAMIU’s Campus Sustainability Initiative, contact Gentry at 956.326.2325, email rgentry@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Physical Plant, Suite 200.

TAMIU information is available online at tamiu.edu and on the campus’ social media sites on Facebook, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.  A free app for smartphone and iPad is available for download at tamiu.edu

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu