Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.76
Liaison Richard Johnson
Submission Date Oct. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rice University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Amy Griffiths
Sustainability Intern
CEVE
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Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:
Yes

A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:

Rice Environmental Society:
The Rice Environmental Society (RES) serves as the umbrella organization for campus groups interested in sustainability. Each sustainability-related group is allotted one "seat" at RES. RES holds monthly meetings to facilitate communication and planning between the organizations. Further, RES administers a funds via a grant process, and sometimes hosts or co-sponsors environmental events.

Rice Environmental Club:
The Rice Environmental Club seeks to establish Rice University as an environmentally positive example for the benefit of the University itself as well as the larger Texas community and the world at large. The club pursues this mission by promoting education and awareness, advocating sustainable development, connecting Rice students to the Houston environmental community, and initiating environmental programming on campus. In general, The Rice Environmental Club meets weekly to discuss and pursue a variety of sustainability projects, ranging from awareness campaigns to environmental film screenings.

Student Association, Environmental Committee:
Rice’s Student Association (SA) is a conduit for communication between students and administration. Specifically the SA Environmental Committee serves as the liaison between students and administration for matters relating to sustainability.

Rice Student Volunteer Program, Environmental Committee:
The Rice Student Volunteer Program (RSVP) is Rice’s largest community service organization, providing opportunities for students to volunteer in five areas: health, education, children, environment, and hunger & homelessness. RSVP’s Environmental Committee coordinates environmental volunteering opportunities.

Engineers Without Borders:
The Rice University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a student-run organization that partners with communities in developing countries to design and implement sustainable and culturally appropriate engineering solutions to meet their basic needs. Current projects at Rice University focus on promoting the accessibility to a safe and reliable drinking source in communities in Nicaragua. Throughout these projects, students form strong intercultural relationships, and become socially and environmentally conscious engineers with outstanding leadership skills and practical, hands-on experience.

Net Impact:
The Net Impact (NI) Chapter at Rice is a club run through the Jones Graduate School of Business which focuses on the impact that businesses have on both the community and society at large. The club’s primary goal is to create awareness of the triple bottom line and to promote corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, and sustainability, as well as to find career paths that align with this vision.

EcoReps:
The department of Facilities Engineering and Planning, as well as Rice’s Housing and Dining services first launched the EcoRep Program in 2006. The program is comprised of approximately 11 undergraduate students, one from each of Rice's 11 residential colleges. The EcoReps are expected to work on projects and undertake efforts that reduce utility consumption, improve recycling, increase environmental awareness, and otherwise advance the environmental performance of their respective colleges. A key outreach activity each year is the Green Dorm Initiative, a campus-wide event to promote sustainable living within the residential colleges. Each EcoRep is expected to actively lead this program at his/her residential college. In addition, EcoReps are expected to apply for "green funds" from Housing and Dining for environmental-related improvements and initiatives for their colleges. Overall, each EcoRep devotes about 2-3 hours per week to the position.

Vegans at Rice
Vegans at Rice is a community of vegan undergraduates and graduates students who practice the vegan lifestyle and serves as a support system for aspiring vegans. A vegan is a person who does not consume or use animal products for health, ethical, and/or environmental reasons. Vegans at Rice plans to work with the Rice University peta2 campus rep to host documentary viewings, guest speakers from the local Houston community, outings to vegan restaurants, and intellectual discussions

Rice Urbanists
Rice Urbanists, established in Fall 2015, promotes discussion of urban planning, infrastructure and sustainability issues. More specifically, the organization aims to: facilitate awareness of urban planning issues in the city of Houston; promote a discussion about the application of modern planning principles to Rice’s campus and surrounding districts (including walkability, low-impact development and accessibility); provide a platform for student engagement with Houston’s municipal government, third-party advocacy organizations and various Rice faculty members via structured meetings and presentations; facilitate connections between sociology, architecture and civil engineering students (as well as anybody else who’s interested); address environmental sustainability, gentrification, environmental justice and the various forms of segregation; and petition for the expansion and refinement of mass transportation facilities and options in Houston.

Rice Urban Conservation Club
The Urban Conservation Club seeks to create natural spaces in urban areas which serve to educate the community about local ecosystems, supply a habitat for native species, and minimize environmental impacts. In addition, the club seeks to support Low Impact Development (LID) projects on campus which reduce Rice’s ecological footprint and engage students in becoming more aware of future solutions in our increasingly urbanized world. The club primarily works to restore and maintain the on-campus prairie, create both natural space and LID projects on campus, partner with organizations in the prairie and LID communities, and extend this knowledge to Rice and Houston community members.


The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):
Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:
Yes

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

Rice Urban Agriculture:
Rice Urban Agriculture, founded in the Fall 2015 semester, aims to provide fresh boxes of produce bi-weekly to members for a small membership fee. They concentrate on growing plants in the community gardens and developing a sustainable compost system using waste from the campus kitchens that can be used to nourish the garden’s plants.

Rice also has a community gardening class and accompanying student activity that focuses on growing fruits and vegetables in the campus community gardens among other projects.


The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

(1) Rice Bike Share Program:
The Rice Bike Share Program allows students to rent a bicycle on a semester basis. The bikes come equipped with a front basket, a U-bolt lock, and a set of front and rear lights. Bikes can also be rented with a friend to lower the upfront costs. The semester rate for an individual rental is $50 with a $100 refundable deposit, and the rate for a partner rental is $35 per person with a $100 per person refundable deposit.

(2) Rice Coffee House
The Rice Coffee House is a student-run coffee house on-campus that serves certified fair trade and organic coffee. Discounts are available for students who bring reusable mugs, and sustainable practices are incorporated into the culture of the enterprise.


The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:
No

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):
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Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:

(1) Campus Sustainability Day
Rice University hosted a Campus Sustainability Day event on October 22, 2014 which featured a lunchtime series of 5-minute lectures about sustainability from campus faculty, staff, and students. The event was sponsored by The Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences and the Administrative Center For Sustainability and Energy Management, and was entitled “Six Perspectives on Sustainability: a series of short talks in celebration of Campus Sustainability Day.”

(2) RESxRICE BIKES Sustainability Week
RESxRice Bikes Sustainability week is to encourage sustainability at Rice- especially to encourage Rice students and faculty to commute by bicycle instead of taking a car by providing incentives to bike and reducing the barriers to bike commutes. It included a Bike plan talk about the recently approved Houston Bike Plan and how it will affect Rice specifically.

(3) Miscellaneous Rice Environmental Club events
The Rice University Environmental Club organizes various events throughout the semester. These events include Beach Cleanups, Toxic Tours (which explores the neighborhoods that are affected by the nearly 30 refiners and chemical plants), and Sustainable Suds (where members help students make affordable environmentally friendly laundry detergent and wool dryer balls).

Other campus organizations such as the Shell Center for Sustainability, the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences, and the Baker Institute for Public Policy also regularly host speakers and conferences related to sustainability.


The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:

Baltra:
Baltra is a nonprofit thrift store established by the Rice Art Lab. It is a student-run business where students can donate their clothes and jewelry in order to receive store credit to buy other items. This year they hosted an Eco Fashion Show, “Who Made Your Clothes?” on Fashion Revolution Day to commemorate the 1,133 people who lost their lives when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka Bangladesh. Recognizing that incidents such as this continue today Baltra’s fashion show aimed to inform students of the catastrophic social and environmental conditions that are becoming increasingly prevalent in the fashion industry today.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):
Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:
Yes

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

The Rice Outdoor Programs and Education:
The Rice Outdoor Programs and Education (ROPE) organizes several weekend excursions throughout the semester which include activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, biking, kayaking, and sailing. These opportunities are open to the entire Rice community. ROPE also provides low-cost equipment rentals and resources to support personal outdoor pursuits. The mission of ROPE is to provide physical, mental, education, and social growth to the Rice University community by using outdoor education techniques in a natural, safe, and enjoyable environment. Leave No Trace environmental ethics are taught and practiced on all ROPE excursions.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

For the 2007-2008 academic year, all incoming undergraduate students were provided with a copy of Elizabeth Kolbert's "Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change." 2007-2008 was designated the “Humans, Nature, and Climate Change” year at Rice. The year's common reading set the stage for several climate change discussions, campus sustainability talks, and several guest lectures. This was supplemented with an ongoing film series, with screenings of films such as 'Kilowatt Ours', 'Dimming the Sun', and 'Green: The New Red, White & Blue'. Other events included a month-long, campus-wide energy competition and a CO2 Forum and Sustainability Fair.

Rice has not had a sustainability-themed semester or year since the 2007-2008 academic year.


The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):
Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:
Yes

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

Real Food Revolution:
(1) The Real Food Revolution was initially formed in 2012 to engage the Rice community in progress towards a sustainable food policy and to foster an appreciation for local, sustainably produced, delicious foods. The Real Food Revolution aims to strengthen the Rice and Houston community by fostering a commitment to the shared ecological place and collective well being of its residents, as well as an appreciation for the far-reaching impact of food quality on the health of the community. Past events hosted by The Real Food Revolution have included a once-a-semester farm-to-fork dinner (attendance usually 60-80, mostly students along with farmers), midday organic produce tastings in the academic quad, and visits to area farms.

(2) Green Dorm Initiative:
The Green Dorm Initiative (GDI) is an annual competition that encourages Rice students, staff, faculty, and administrators to adopt sustainable lifestyles and to then implement them on campus. Held typically in February, the GDI is a three-week event hosted by the Rice University EcoReps that targets different green topics around campus every day. Students will first learn a small bit about that day’s topic, and then answer two to three questions related to it. All students will keep track of completion of the week-long challenge each day. Some days include additional challenges, like posting to the Facebook page and using social media to share how they’re making the Rice campus greener. Each question is worth one point, which means the more questions that are completed, the more the student wins.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

Students interested in the environment at Rice can apply to work as EcoReps, a program overseen by Rice's sustainability officer. The program is comprised of approximately 11 undergraduate students, one from each of Rice's 11 residential colleges. The EcoReps are expected to work on projects and undertake efforts that reduce utility consumption, improve recycling, increase environmental awareness, and otherwise advance the environmental performance of their respective colleges. A key outreach activity each year is the Green Dorm Initiative, a campus-wide event to promote sustainable living within the residential colleges. Each EcoRep is expected to actively lead this program at his/her residential college. In addition, EcoReps are expected to apply for "green funds" from Housing and Dining for environmental-related improvements and initiatives for their colleges. Overall, each EcoRep devotes about 2-3 hours per week to the position.

The sustainability office also offers internships during the academic year as well as the summer to work on a variety of projects, including communications and AASHE STARS reporting.

The communications manager for Facilities Engineering and Planning and for Housing and Dining also employs student communications interns who assist in managing sustainability-related social media and web sites.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:
Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:
No

A brief description of the graduation pledges:
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The website URL where information about the graduation pledges is available (optional):
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Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:
Yes

A brief description of the other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

Environmental Health Collaborative:
The Environmental Health Collaborative, established in 2014, exists to bring awareness to the often overlooked connection between the environment and public health. The environment is intimately linked to air and water quality, amongst other factors, that have profound effects on our health. In Houston, these connections are further complicated by the fact that the most polluted neighborhoods in the city are largely impoverished and inhabited predominately by African-American and Latino residents. The Environmental Health Collaborative seeks to bring awareness to environmental health issues and work towards environmental justice in the greater Houston community.


The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):
Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.