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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 9 - General Provisions
Publication Date: January 14, 2010
Policy Reviewed Date: April 22, 2024
Policy Owner: President

9.43 Sustainability


While continuing to further its mission to achieve excellence in higher education, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is committed to the development of programs, initiatives, and practices that promote sustainability practices and that contribute meaningfully to the environment. These efforts must be developed and implemented within budgetary constraints and be consistent with this policy, the University's Strategic Plan, A Shared Vision: UTSA 2016, the UTSA Campus Master Plan, and all legal, regulatory and programmatic requirements.


UTSA has identified the sustainability area as one of its five areas of excellence, and therefore, through this policy, proposes to establish its organizational framework to strengthen the university's efforts. This policy was also established in response to UT System Policy on Sustainability Practices which requires each institution to establish a sustainability policy.This policy outlines the creation of the UTSA Sustainability Council (The Council), its role, responsibilities and membership. The Council will function as a university standing committee, and will be responsible for the development and oversight of a five-year university sustainability plan. It also outlines a framework for organizing UTSA's sustainability efforts that serve the needs of the regional community as well as those of the university.


This policy applies to sustainability programs, initiatives and practices conducted at the Main Campus, the Downtown Campus, the HemisFair Park Campus and other sites as appropriate; and that are designed to engage UTSA, faculty, staff, students, alumni, vendors, contractors and other community partners.



UT System Policy on Sustainability Practices

UTSA Standing Committees


If you have any questions about HOP policy 9.43, Sustainability, contact the following office:

The Office of the President


For the purpose of this policy, sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This can be accomplished by seeking a balanced approach between the economic, social and environmental needs of the community and university operations. Understanding that sustainability can be viewed in a very broad context, this policy is initially directed towards the environmental and energy aspects as they relate to the UTSA community. Further evolutions of this policy may include the social and historical aspects that are often associated with broader sustainability efforts.

A University Standing Committee is a permanent committee that is appointed by the President and that serves in an advisory capacity to the President. The Committee is intended to consider all matters pertaining to a designated subject.


UTSA Sustainability Council
The Council will consist of faculty, staff and students from the three campuses and include representatives from the offices of the President and each of the Vice Presidents. The Council will function as a university standing committee and its chair and members will be appointed by the President and/or his/her designee.

The Council will advise the President, Provost and other senior administrators regarding strategies for enhancing the university's sustainability performance. The Council will make recommendations on sustainability programs, initiatives, and practices, and on the allocation of resources; will help monitor the development and progress of the campus sustainability efforts; and will provide guidance and assistance in fostering alliances with community partners.

The Council will be responsible for developing a five-year sustainability plan. The Council will review and update the plan on an annual basis, and present it to Campus Management and Operations (CMO) for approval, support and provision of resources. The Council will have the responsibility of preparing an annual report on the progress of the university-wide sustainability plan. In addition, the Council will be responsible for preparing the annual UTSA Campus Sustainability report for The University of Texas System (UT System).

This Executive team is responsible for providing direction to The Council on the university's five-year sustainability plan, and for allocation of necessary resources in support of this plan.


Implementation/Enforcement Step

Responsible Office/Officer

  1. Establish the Sustainability Council and appoint its membership


President and/or his/her designee

  1. Develop a five-year sustainability plan and gain support from CMO


Chair of the Sustainability Council

  1. Promote the sustainability programs, initiatives and practices throughout the year; Launch new programs and review and monitor on-going UTSA sustainability efforts

Sustainability Council

  1. Prepare an annual progress report for UT System and CMO


Sustainability Council

  1. Develop a sustainability plan for the upcoming year


Sustainability Council

  1. Approve and provide support for Sustainability plans for coming year (summer period)



  1. Annual cycle repeats (steps 3-6)

Sustainability Council


When evaluating sustainability efforts and developing the five-year sustainability plan, The Council shall advise the university leadership on how best to advance the seven collaborative policy areas of emphasis described below. The policy areas include broad-sweeping goals, and establish a general direction and framework for the university's sustainability efforts.

UTSA will play a leadership role in the community by setting a standard for responsible environmental stewardship. UTSA will integrate a culture of sustainability throughout its academic, research, operations and community outreach programs. UTSA will engage its students, faculty, staff and community partners in promoting broad community participation, and in developing and implementing innovative, environmentally sustainable practices. UTSA will foster a campus culture of reduced consumption and improved efficiency in the use of natural resources, resulting in significant environmental and economic impact.

UTSA will integrate sustainability principles and green service learning experiences into its academic offerings to ensure that every UTSA student graduates with a strong understanding and sense of environmental stewardship. Through its degree and certificate programs, UTSA will endeavor to produce a workforce capable of addressing regional environmental and energy challenges and implementing innovative sustainable solutions.

UTSA will foster a sustainability research environment that engages faculty and students from across all colleges in a collaborative manner in pursuit of innovative solutions for addressing our society's environmental challenges. UTSA will engage its community partners in applying this research knowledge to address our region's environmental and energy needs, and in creating sustainability policies and practices.

UTSA's student body can serve as a catalyst in fostering a regional culture of sustainability, conservation and environmental responsibility in partnership with the San Antonio community. UTSA will encourage its students to participate in programs and training focused on sustainability, and to adopt an environmentally-friendly culture and way of working and living, both on and off campus.

The university will be proactive in sharing the knowledge gained from its research programs and campus initiatives with the greater community to help bring awareness to the environmental challenges and opportunities facing our region. UTSA will actively share information with its community partners on its environmental activities and programs through the use of electronic and printed mediums.

UTSA will help promote environmental awareness and natural resource conservation by engaging with the community through on-campus and off-campus activities, and by developing educational programs that generate interest in conservation. Also, UTSA will help strengthen the regional economic engine by engaging with the community to foster new green industries and businesses, and by providing the necessary trained green workforce.

Campus Operations encompasses the daily business and student support activities necessary to assure the success of the institution's academic and research missions. The Campus Operations policy area includes university goals in each of the following categories:

  1. Energy & Water - to improve efficiency of building systems and infrastructure to reduce energy and water consumption through efficient operation of building systems and effective and environmentally sustainable maintenance practices.
  2. Transportation - to expand development of infrastructure that encourages the reduction of fuel consumption through expansion of bicycle and pedestrian transportation opportunities, and increased mass transit, carpooling, fuel efficiency, and use of alternative fuels.
  3. Construction and Renovation - to construct high performing, energy efficient buildings that minimize impact on the natural environment. New buildings and renovations for existing buildings will be designed in accordance with state and nationally recognized energy conservation standards, and the institution will evaluate inclusion of additional energy and water saving alternatives, where reasonable.
  4. Waste - to reduce the amount of generated waste, increase the re-use of materials and equipment, and increase the amount of recycled material.
  5. Dining, Housing & On-Campus Vendors - to minimize the environmental impact of its Dining, Housing and On-Campus vendor operations through the use of local and organic products, waste minimization and recycling of waste products, where reasonable. Operations will maximize energy efficiency, and support efforts to increase student awareness of environmentally sustainable practices.
  6. Grounds - to manage growth to limit disturbance of sensitive and endangered species, and to increase conservation through the use of native and drought tolerant plants and through xeric landscaping practices.
  7. Purchasing - to minimize the environmental impact of its purchasing practices. Suppliers will be encouraged to demonstrate environmental stewardship. Life cycle costs will be considered when making purchasing decisions.