UTSA was recently given the prestigious Refreshing Ideas Pinnacle Award from the San Antonio Water System (SAWS). The award honors businesses that show excellent water conservation initiatives. UTSA’s water conservation plan proved environmentally sound, according to city officials.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Dave Riker and UTSA Assistant to the President and Director of External Affairs and Corporate Relations Albert Carrisalez accepted the award on behalf of the university.

“I have seen the school go from zero focus to a greater emphasis on water conservation and student participation,” Riker said.

UTSA is attempting to show San Antonio that the university cares about the environment and that by using less water and energy, the university is able to accomplish more. UTSA not only saves water but also saves money. The university uses less resources with the initiatives in place, which allows the remaining funds to be used for school programs and organizations. The UT System is planning to reduce water consumption by five percent within the next five years.

The following initiatives made UTSA the winner of the Pinnacle award: reclamation of condensate from hot/humid air in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building, which saves 800,000 gallons of water annually; Main Building and Business Building low-flow urinals implementation, which use ½ gallon per flush instead of one gallon per flush; Business Service Annex’s waterless urinals, changed to automatic-flush urinals, with one pint per flush.

The automatic urinals save the school 40,000 gallons. The replacement of existing landscaping with rock xeriscaping project savings at about 50,000 gallons. Installation of low-flow/dual flow toilets and low-flow shower heads in Chisolm Hall dormitory saves three million gallons. Installation of low-flow toilets and low-flow shower heads on the Main campus saves 19 million gallons. The repair of underground water leak at the Child Development Center saved three million gallons. Installation of low-flow kitchen spray valves saves 500,000 gallons.

Recently, the installation of synthetic turf instead of grass at the intramural fields project savings of 14.5 million gallons. New projects are still being considered. Low-flow urinals are planned to be added to all campus facilities. A plan to reclaim condensate from hot/humid air to all campus facilities is also being considered. SAWS has also offered to give aerators to campus sinks at no cost to the university.

Current statistics show that UTSA has saved approximately 42 million gallons of water this year. Back in 2002, savings were at 20 million, and savings have been increasing since then.

Aside from water conservation, UTSA is also trying to conserve energy. Some of the plans include campus lighting upgrades, from 32 watt lamps to 28 watt lamps. Solar film enhancements to be added are planned to reduce solar radiation . The films will be added to the University Heights and John Peace Library buildings.

Riker mentioned that the school plans to save an additional 14 million gallons of water by next year. The results should become available by October, 2012.

“We’re working with the Green Fund Committee and the Sustainability Counsel,” Riker said. Now that UTSA has been recognized as a water conserver, we want to see if we can get a rebate. The rebate will help us use funds more towards the students.”

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