Texas CityLab (TCL) is an experienced-based, interdisciplinary applied learning program that partners Central Texas communities and with university courses and resources. Sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), TCL strengthens sustainability in the built environment. Each year, TCL contracts with one Texas city; together, CityLab personnel and city officials identify sustainability projects for existing university classes to address. TCL program staff then enlist 10-20 university courses to tackle these identified projects, harnessing the energy, enthusiasm, and research of faculty and students across campus departments. At the end of the academic year, TCL presents the partner city with a report of student- and faculty-led analysis, best practices, and proposed designs. Examples include stormwater management, affordable housing, efficient transportation, and community outreach strategies. TCL results in sustainability progress for communities, meaningful learning and professional development for students, and an opportunity for faculty to link classroom work to life outside the university.
TCL connects university resources to Central Texas cities that are experiencing both advantages and challenges associated with rapid economic and urban growth. Between 2000 and 2011, Central Texas was one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. This growth produces significant environmental threats and can create a gap between people benefiting from Central Texas’ rapid economic expansion and those left behind. Simultaneously, rapid development puts pressure on city environmental and planning staff. Many Central Texas cities struggle to react with sustainable strategies, lacking specialized personnel and resources. TCL responds to these pressures, working towards improving quality of life conditions within and around cities while simultaneously expanding the problem-solving capacity of the current and future workforce.
The CSD is pleased to share the current success and future opportunities of the TCL program with you. By providing an interdisciplinary service-focused framework which unites diverse students and faculty in devising innovative sustainability solutions, we believe that cities across Central Texas are better able to improve quality of life and long-term sustainability within their communities.