Community Connect
Office of the Vice President for Community Services

UTSA Business Affairs

Building a Community to Improve the Environment

By Melissa May

Students picking up trash at February's Basura Bash.

Students picking up trash at February's Basura Bash.

The UTSA Sustainability Program pro-motes conservation initiatives and moves the university toward a more sustainable environment. The pillars of sustainability are: social change, environmental protection and economic development. The program aims to meet the needs of present users while ensuring that future generations can thrive. Students, staff, and faculty are focused on a wide range of programs to improve the environmental and energy performance of our campuses and of our communities.

Dr. Keith Muhlestein, director of sustainability, is involved with environmental matters on campus and in the local and academic communities. "We're excited to bring several new programs to UTSA this year, including enhancement of the pollinator garden, creation of a bee habitat, a new Tree Advisory Committee, and a bicycle task force."

Staff and faculty work with the Green Society at UTSA to advance initiatives, such as the UTSA Community Garden, rain gardens, and butterfly garden. "The Green Society is dedicated to promoting sustain-ability and providing opportunities for environmental stewardship," said Rebecca Deleon-Hutton, president of The Green Society. "We hope to build a network of environmentally conscious students who will engage in their local community to inspire change."

Quick Facts:

The UT System is committed to recording and monitoring annual waste and recycling quantities, implementing procedures to reduce campus waste, and setting a goal to increase campus recycling each year.

By choosing to put synthetic turf on our practice fields, UTSA saves 21 million gallons of water each year.

Nearly 90 Roadrunners participated in cleanups of creek beds held last February as part of the Basura Bash. The final county-wide collection count was 32.8 tons of trash, 1.14 tons of metal, and 84 tires. In RecycleMania, a nationwide waste reduction competition, UTSA ranked 44th of 214 colleges and universities for total recycling and 18th of 190 schools for diverting trash to recycling.

The continued work at UTSA to improve the environment for San Antonio occurs beyond student organizations. Several university departments consistently initiate environmentally friendly projects.

The UTSA Business Affairs Division is committed to ensuring the efficient use of resources and to minimizing our university's carbon footprint. Among the division's many efforts, the Facilities Department works constantly to consider the environment when constructing and updating new projects around campus, focusing on low-impact development. Energy Manager Dagoberto Rodriguez continues to research and implement changes that have resulted in tremendous reductions in electricity and water use. "The switch to LED lights offers long-term savings for the university and is better for the environment," said Rodriguez. "Efficiency is key. The most effective way to conserve resources is to avoid using them in the first place."

The Sustainability Council advises campus leadership on strategies to enhance the university's sustainability performance. With support from its student members, it helps monitor the development and progress of campus sustainability efforts and provides guidance and assistance in fostering alliances with community partners.

The Purchasing Office provides a wide array of recycled-material products and urges buying earth-friendly goods and services. The Surplus Property Department ensures that campus community members re-use, recycle, and redistribute goods, saving money and resources. Nearly 1,000 items found a new home on campus in 2016, and 5,700 computers were donated to Texas prisons.

UTSA Dining reduces its environmental impact through practices that enrich and support the natural environment. Local purchasing, recycling, reusable to-go containers, green cleaning, responsible portioning and fryer oil recycling are some of UTSA Dining's many environmentally conscious practices.

Members of the student group Green Society start planting at grand opening of UTSA Community Garden

Members of the student group Green Society start planting at grand opening of UTSA Community Garden

Campus Services' The 'Runner shuttle bus service helps people reduce gas usage: a savings of 2,074,136 miles in 2016. Their programs reduced CO2 emissions by 710 metric tons. Parking garages are equipped with motion sensor LED lighting. Vending services uses energy efficient equipment and disengages lamps to reduce energy use.

Business Affairs hosted Science & the Planet meetings featuring climate change activist Laughlin Artz, executive director of 2020 or Bust, and air quality expert Peter Bella. Among its many community connections, the UTSA Sustainability program is involved in the EcoExchangeEdu, a group of South Texas universities sharing ideas about improving the environment.

For more information on Sustainability at UTSA, visit