A blueprint for campus sustainability – News Center

Tuesday, November 08, 2022 • Herb stand:
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Students at a recent EPA-UTA sustainability exercise." _languageinserted="Is correct
Students at a recent EPA-UTA sustainability exercise.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it plans to use the University of Texas at Arlington as a blueprint for designing work sessions for campus sustainability.

Last month, the EPA and the UT Arlington College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs hosted an EPA/UTA Campus RainWorks Design Charette exercise. A charette is a meeting where everyone involved tries to resolve conflicts and identify solutions. Attendees included faculty, students, recent graduates, UTA facility management staff, Office of Sustainability representatives, officials and consultants from the City of Arlington.

The EPA-funded pilot brought all stakeholders together to discuss on-campus blue-green infrastructure and water planning, and how climate change is affecting those plans. The event also presented an exhibition of campus design interventions by five students in the landscape architecture program. Speakers included UTA President Jennifer Cowley and John Hall, UTA Vice President for Administration and Economic Development.

Clark Wilson, a green infrastructure specialist with EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management, said the federal agency hopes to use the UTA pilot exercise as a model for future campus events at universities across the country.

“These events show how to start blue-green infrastructure projects,” Wilson said. “It’s a way to achieve better health, produce cleaner water, provide justice where it’s needed and address the impacts of climate change.”

Participants took part in a campus tour to review landscaping projects. Afternoon sessions covered planning for watercourse restoration, stream health, watershed management, biodiversity, flood mitigation, climate change, trails and facilities.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge pilot program aims to connect with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management techniques, and demonstrate the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

UTA students and other participants at a recent EPA/UTA sustainability exercise." _languageinserted="Is correct
UTA students and other participants at a recent EPA/UTA sustainability exercise.

Some of what stakeholders have built from the Charette exercise could be used in developing challenges and goals for the next Campus RainWorks Challenge. UTA CAPPA teams have won the EPA Challenge twice and received honorable mention awards three times in the event’s 10-year history.

Taner Özdil, associate professor of landscape architecture and associate director for research at the UTA Center for Metropolitan Density, is the advisor to the RainWorks Challenge teams. The EPA/UTA core team for the pilot consists of Wilson; a consulting team led by Lot Locher with One Architecture and Urbanism; Ozdil; Jeff Johnson and Don Lange from the UTA facility management team; Meghna Tare, UTA’s Chief Sustainability Officer; Arlington City Representatives Lyndsay Mitchell and Gincy Thoppil; and student representatives Hanan Boukhima and Oren Mandelbaum.

“These ideas serve as a starting point for actual projects on campus, in Arlington, and in the DFW community,” Özdil said. “The Campus RainWorks Challenge was the starting point for many of these ideas on campus. This exercise serves the same purpose.”

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