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University continues to promote sustainability on campuses

UT took another step toward becoming a climate-neutral campus by joining nearly 900 universities and businesses nationwide with a membership to the Association for the Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education.

The association’s goal is to create a prosperous, ecologically healthy world, a more environmentally friendly planet through higher education.

According to Brooke Mason, UT interim sustainability specialist, because the University has purchased the institutional rights to a membership with the Association for the Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education, anyone with a UT email address can set up a free account.

“[The association] is a network of schools and companies that focuses on higher education sustainability,” Mason said. “Anything that has to do with sustainability and higher education is listed there, whether it is education, dining, energy, waste, water and transportation. It works like an idea-sharing network. The site has resources for almost any sustainability initiative you can dream up.”

The Association for the Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education account remains free for students, faculty and staff once set up, so long as UT renews its membership every year. Students, staff and faculty also can sign up for biweekly email updates without an account.

Mason said the creation of her position was part of the institution’s ongoing efforts to become a more sustainable campus, and she is looking forward to hearing ideas from the UT community on how the University can become more climate-neutral.

“Creating a sustainable position is a pretty big step in the right direction,” Mason said. “UT has made great strides with some amazing energy conservation measures with Michael Green, UT’s director of energy management. But there is still work to be done in other aspects of sustainability, which was why he was such a supporter of creating my position.”

Mason said that in addition to raising awareness about sustainability, UT will look to start a bike-sharing program and will study the feasibility of composting.

In 2009, UT President Lloyd Jacobs signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, an agreement among presidents of universities across the nation to combat global warming. This made UT one of more than 600 U.S. universities to pledge to become more climate-neutral.

Mason said students, staff and faculty with ideas on how to improve sustainability on campus can communicate their ideas at Facebook.com/greeningUT or Twitter.com/greeningUT.

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