Sustainability

Purpose

St. Mary’s University practices good stewardship in a continuous effort to minimize waste, increase recycling and promote sustainability.

An Environmental Sustainability Committee comprised of students, faculty and staff meets monthly in Garni Science Hall to share information and foster participation in recycling and sustainability programs. Waste minimization and recycling are key focus areas for the University.

The Sustainability Committee pledges to raise University awareness of local and global sustainability issues, to educate our community in sustainability best practices, and work to build a more sustainable campus for future generations.

For more information, contact Evelynn Mitchell, Ph.D., Sustainability Committee Chair and Associate Professor of Environmental Science, at emitchell1@stmarytx.edu.

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Green Initiatives

Waste Minimization

  • Lab experiments are designed by faculty and lab technicians to utilize non-hazardous material whenever possible in lab experiments.
  • Water-based paint is used instead of oil-based paint for campus internal and external applications.
  • Campus cafeteria has discontinued the use of Styrofoam containers for food and beverage “to-go” orders and is using reusable green containers.
  • New water fountains installed as part of building renovations or new construction include water bottle refill stations.

Waste Disposal

  • All hazardous chemical waste from academic and maintenance operations are classified by Hazard Code and disposed of per Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements.
  • Medical and Bio-hazardous waste generated in our Student Health Center, Biology research, and Athletics department is collected and shipped off-site for incineration by an authorized treatment facility.
  • Asbestos and lead material from construction and renovations is disposed of in authorized landfills designed to prevent migration of hazardous material into soil or groundwater.
  • All spray cans are punctured and disposed of as scrap metal (contents disposed as paint-related waste).
  • Used motor oil and refrigerant oil is collected, tested and disposed of based on halogen content.
  • All electronic waste and used batteries are shipped off-site for removal of hazardous components (heavy metals) and recycling.
  • All printer and copier toners and ink cartridges are shipped back to manufacturer or third-party recycling facility.
  • Kitchen grease from food service operations is collected in an above ground tank and picked up monthly by recycling service.
  • Two grease traps collect grease and solids from food service sinks and one interceptor collects automotive residual oil and solids from the vehicle washrack before entering the municipal sewer system.
  • All bulbs and lamps from light fixtures are shipped off site for removal of hazardous component (mercury) and recycling.

Recycling

St. Mary’s University has programs in place to recycle campus waste such as aluminum and tin cans, plastic, paper, cardboard, batteries, bulbs, lamps, e-waste, scrap metal, kitchen grease and ink cartridges. Students have lobbied and were able to more than double the number of recycle bins in the residence halls from 26 (2012) to 61 (2013).  In 2013, the University also purchased a large recycle compactor (40 CY) used for co-mingled material (paper, plastic, cans, glass) to replace the smaller 8 CY standard dumpsters. The new compactor has increased the recycle capacity threefold while reducing costs of disposal.

Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is good stewardship and a key component of the Catholic Marianist Mission.  The University has taken steps to minimize energy and water usage on campus.

  • All Residence Halls and a majority of the academic buildings have been converted to green tip compact fluorescent bulbs that are four to six times more efficient than regular light bulbs.  Green tip fluorescent also contains very little mercury and is less harmful at point of disposal.
  • Building renovations and new construction are fitted with low-flow faucets, toilets and water fountains with water bottle refill stations.
  • A Groundwater Conservation Plan supported by annual Irrigation System Checkups is in place to manage the well water and municipal water usage for campus landscape and athletic field irrigation.

The University currently consists of roughly 135 acres and 1.3 million square feet of usable building space that requires a large amount of power and water for normal operations. The University  monitors  energy and water consumption using “Energy Star Portfolio Manager,” an online tool created by a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency and CPS Energy (a San Antonio-owned utility company). All new building designs or major renovations include design consideration to enhance energy and water conservation.

The Environmental Sustainability Committee partners with the Environmental Science faculty to foster student interest and develop academic programs and projects to drive resource sustainability. As part of the Environmental Science curriculum, the faculty encourages students to consider environmental projects that impact the University campus. Future plans include collaboration with the Greehey School of Business to give students real-life experience working in multi-functional teams to build a business case and marketing campaign in support of the sustainability projects. Projects that have been completed or are under review include:

  • Energy Usage Carbon Footprint – Students used energy (power and natural gas) consumption data to determine the carbon footprint of the University.
  • Rainwater Harvesting – Students designed a system to capture rainwater from rooftops to supplement campus irrigation needs.
  • Community Garden – Students are designing a campus garden to grow organic produce and utilize a catchment to filter surface water runoff.
  • Recycling Enhancement – Students are evaluating additional methods to increase recycling of paper, plastic, glass, and cans on campus.

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