“I benefited by practicing with a real world scenario, collecting data, and by presenting this data.” - Student
“I learned how to research. And my interpersonal skills inproved, plus my ability to speak in a more professional way.” - Student
In its inaugural year, the Texas CityLab partnered with University of Texas Campus Planning & Facilities Management. As the “city” in our backyard, the 80,000-person University of Texas campus offers an ideal platform for Texas CityLab. During the academic year 2014-2015, fifteen classes engaged in finding solutions to a range of sustainability challenges on campus. Working with the Facilities and Operations team at the University of Texas and in alignment with the UT Campus Master Plan goals, the year’s courses were structured into the following five project areas:
1. Living Laboratory: Bridging the Energy and Water Conservation Program with Academics
The newly formed Energy and Water Conservation Program (EWC) at UT Austin has been charged to conserve 20% demand side energy and water consumption in the E&G space throughout campus by the year 2020 (baseline year is 2009). In the fall semester of 2014, the EWC Program, Building Optimization Team, and Zonal Maintenance collaborated to implement a comprehensive energy audit at BMC building, presenting an opportunity for students to support this campus initiative. Classes in this project area helped contribute directly to the energy audits across campus.
Mechanical Engineering (397), Dr. Michael Webber: Energy Technology, and Policy
Civil Engineering (397), Dr. Ying Xu: Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability
2. Value Proposition of Sustainability Initiatives
The costs of sustainability initiatives and programs are often immediate, while the benefits of the same programs may not be seen in the near-term. Sustainability initiatives and programs are often intended to produce longer-term benefits to the economy, environment and all people, making such benefits difficult to quantify through more traditional cost-benefit analyses. These classes examined the return-on-investment from sustainability initiatives taking place in campus as an avenue to develop a methodology for how to perform such analyses in the longer term.
Finance (377), Professor Mary Lou Poloskey: Financial Analysis
Urban Studies (315), Dr. Paul Adams: Urban Research Methods
3. Zero Waste
UT’s Campus Master Plan calls for the campus to move towards zero waste across campus by 2020, providing an opportunity for classes to examine how best to catalyze positive action from staff, students and faculty on campus. Classes in this project area used the University’s Campus Master Plan as a starting point and serve as a test bed for communication and design strategies to encourage behavior change across campus.
Advertising (385), Dr. Lucy Atkinson: Advertising, Sustainability, and the Conscientious Consumer
Advertising and Public Relations (373), Dr. Lucy Atkinson: Integrated Communications Campaign
Community and Regional Planning (383), Dr. Robert Young: Resource Management & Recycling
4. Wildlife & Biodiversity
The abundance of humans, wildlife, and plant species on campus presents an opportunity to identify how to more effectively integrate human and natural systems on the UT campus. These classes provided greater analysis (problem identification and potential implementation measures) of particular species on campus and students’ relationships to these plants and animals, directly informing how to enhance the already abundant natural environment on campus while maintaining the campus as an effective space for learning.
Biology (280L), Dr. Kay McMurray: Field Biology
5. Waller Creek
UT’s Campus Master Plan calls for the transformation and restoration of Waller Creek in order to enhance the campus environment; however, limited staff resources for consistent evaluation and maintenance presents an opportunity for students to creatively think about how to move a plan from vision to implementation. Classes in this section studied the urban watershed and develop particular program and policy strategies for how to manage the creek over time, specifically within the larger context of the roles of an anchor institution in a city.
Civil Engineering, Dr. Kerry Kinney: Introduction to Environmental Engineering
Civil Engineering, Dr. David Maidment: Hydraulic Engineering Design
Community and Regional Planning, Dr. Katherine Lieberknecht: Water Resources Planning
Landscape Architecture, Dr. Allan Shearer: Landscape Architectural Design Studio
Public Affairs, Professor Sherri Greenberg: Policy Research Project