Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.85
Liaison Kelly Wellman
Submission Date Dec. 11, 2020

STARS v2.2

Texas A&M University
EN-5: Outreach Campaign

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Carol Binzer
Director Of Student Life Programs
Dormitories Administration
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at students and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at employees and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:

Name of the campaign:
ResLife U-Challenge

A brief description of the campaign:

The Department of Residence Life hosts the "U Challenge", wherein teams of students (graduate & undergraduate) study utility and energy consumption for assigned residence hall communities as well as student engagement patterns in those communities. Using data provided by Utility & Services, teams examine these patterns and develop infrastructure and engagement recommendations to reduce consumption and increase sustainable behaviors. Through competitive rounds, student teams present their findings and recommendations to professional judges and winners receive cash prizes. All of the recommendations by each of the teams are logged and reviewed by department leadership for implementation. A full outline of the challenge can be found at https://reslife.tamu.edu/living/sustainability/u-challenge/.

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign:

Overall, the utilities consumption for Residence Life managed facilities has gone steadily down from over $10M to just over $7M while square footage has been increased. These results have come with renovations, student engagement, close monitoring for maintenance (via usage trends), and economies of scale in utility pricing. Throughout the past 4 years of hosting the U-Challenge, over 25 recommendations have been implemented which have contributed to the utility consumption decrease.

Name of the campaign (2nd campaign):
Aggie Sustainability Alliance (ASA)

A brief description of the campaign (2nd campaign):

The Aggie Sustainability Alliance, open to all faculty and staff, engages participants in fostering a campus culture of sustainability. Individuals and offices are recognized for their contributions to sustainable energy and water use, transportation, food and purchasing, waste minimization, and social sustainability. The program builds off the previous Sustainable Office Certification (SOC) program, which helped make Texas A&M’s faculty and staff more aware of sustainable practices that can be easily incorporated into everyday life, while collectively reducing TAMU's footprint. Each office that participated in the SOC had the opportunity to fulfill qualifications ranging from easy tasks to more in depth responsibilities and were rewarded with a Sustainable Office plaque at the appropriate level. The Aggie Sustainability Alliance maintains the office-level certification while additionally providing an individual certification to encourage and recognize sustainable behavior change actions of individual faculty and staff.

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign (2nd campaign):

To date, twenty offices have been officially certified in the historical SOC program and one has been re-certified at a higher level. Active SOC certification paused while the new ASA program was under development, and offices which were in progress under the SOC program are being transitioned over to the updated ASA program. The ASA program is currently evolving as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A brief description of other sustainability-related outreach campaigns:

The ResLife Sustainability Challenge continues to evolve to meet the needs of students living on-campus. Each year, there are student engagement activities to promote education, outreach and service opportunities for students between Campus Sustainability Day and Texas Recycles Day. Annually, there is a Sustainability Dinner which hosts faculty, staff and students passionate about sustainability to learn from one another. The Challenge is a compilation of opportunities for individual habit development, education about global issues of sustainability sponsored by campus partners, and opportunities for service or experiential learning with stream clean, Howdy Farm and Replant to name a few. A primary focus for this year's challenge is to inform residents of sustainable resources that are present around them, how they can make personal decisions to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and how to advance the conversation or recommended action for campus change surrounding sustainable practice.

Each residence hall community is encouraged to utilize sustainable bulletin boards for passive education in the residence halls. Several sponsored events like "Chill and Charge" - using solar panel chargers to allow students to charge their devices while learning about sustainable practice in the residence halls, allow for students to gain active education around forms of clean energy and energy consumption. "Project Clean Plate, an Aggie Eco-Reps collaboration with Chartwells Dining Services annually divert approximately 2,000 lbs. of food waste at the Sbisa Dining Hall to compost efforts on campus to illustrate the importance of not overeating/placing uneaten food in the trash.

Texas A&M University has its own Campus Sustainability Master Plan that is used as a guide for campus to become more sustainable. Several actions items under the master plan are the responsibility of Residence Life to monitor and advance, including providing electronic waste (e-waste) recycling bins to residents. Following the lead of the Office of Sustainability, the Department of Residence Life worked with Ayers-Saint Gross to develop a Residence Life Sustainability Master Plan in 2018. It highlights current efforts made by the department to make sustainability an Aggie tradition and outlines action items on how the department can increase its sustainability efforts. The end of the document has a progress checking tool that is examined yearly to determine where department efforts need to be directed. Student organization leaders, department administrators, and residents were consulted during the creation of this plan. The plan can be found at the top of the Residence Life sustainability webpage at https://reslife.tamu.edu/living/sustainability/.

Residence Life also hosts a fall Sustainability Dinner & Awards event during Campus Sustainability Month. The department aims to connect students, faculty, and staff who share a passion for sustainability during this event where they share a meal. Dinner is catered by Chartwells and features locally-sourced, vegan dishes that are served on compostable dinnerware. Chartwells also provides compost bin to collect the food scraps and materials to be responsibly disposed of and turning into nutrient-dense compost. Following dinner winners of the 5 different sustainability awards announced. These awards focus on efforts made by students and staff to make the residence halls more sustainable whether that is being a waste reducer, creative innovator for a sustainability problem, or being a custodial staff member who goes above and beyond for recycling. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2020 Sustainability Dinner will be hosted online using Zoom with a menu being sent out to registered guests. The menu was created in partnership with the A&M AgriLife Extension Office and provides several options for guests to learn how to cook a new, plant-based meal.

In addition to the U-Challenge and Sustainability Dinner & Awards, Residence Life also hosts the Trex Plastic Film challenge. The challenge is in partnership with a Virginia-based company, Trex, that creates composite decking and outdoor furniture from 95% recycled materials. One of these materials is plastic film, which comes in various forms such as grocery bags, bubble wrap, and Ziploc bags. From November through April 10 bins supplied by Trex are placed across residence hall spaces with the goal of collecting 500 lbs. of plastic film. This six month time frame was selected as it encompasses several major sustainability-related events including Texas Recycles Day, Campus Sustainability Day, and Earth Month. While the challenge officially ends in April, several bins remain on campus through the summer to allow Aggies to recycle plastic film until the next challenge begins the following fall. Since the Trex Challenge began in November 2018, students, faculty, and staff have recycled over 2,500 lbs. of plastic film. More information about Trex and their Plastic Film Recycling Challenge can be found at https://www.trex.com/recycling/recycling-programs/. Information on the department’s challenge can be found at https://reslife.tamu.edu/living/sustainability/trex-plastics-challenge/.

Each year the Department of Residence Life also hosts Donate, Don’t Dump and Grocery Give & Grab (G3). Donate, Don’t Dump is done in partnership with Goodwill to allow residents the option to donate their unwanted, durable goods during move-out in the spring. Goodwill provides trucks and trailers that are placed around campus for the last 10 days of the semester. In 2019, understanding that food insecurity was a more prevalent problem on campus, the department began hosting G3. Large, grey bins are placed near Donate, Don’t Dump locations and residents are able to drop off unopened, unexpired, nonperishable foods. Other residents are encouraged to take any foods they need from the bins without signing any paperwork or asking for permission. Signage on the bins instructs any student taking food to check the ingredients list and expiration date. Student staff check the bins daily to make sure items that have been donated meet the criteria outlined above. Anything that is expired, opened, or perishable is removed. After all residents have moved out, any food remaining is taken to the Brazos Valley Food Bank. Since 2019, over 540 lbs. of food has been donated to the community.

The most recent campaign has been in partnership with AASHE vendor and sponsor, Fill It Forward (previously known as Cupanion). Using funds received from the Aggie Green Fund, over 1,000 Fill It Forward stickers were purchased to distribute to Aggies to track their positive environmental footprint and donate to clean water and sanitation projects around the world.

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.