Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.35
Liaison Christa Rieck
Submission Date Nov. 23, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Houston
IN-3: Innovation 3

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Gabriel Durham
Graduate assistant
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
University of Houston Coastal Center Seed Distribution Project

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

University of Houston Coastal Center (UHCC) is an environmental research and educational center about 14 miles northwest of the Gulf Coast, which contains about 300 acres of threatened coastal tallgrass prairie. Acquired in the 1960's the UHCC aims to support environmental research on the Texas coast by providing researchers with access to field sites, equipment and facilities. Facilities include two micrometeorology towers, a greenhouse, a laboratory building, and a maintenance building. The UHCC also seeks to broaden public awareness about science and the environment by supporting outreach activities with public groups and educational organizations.

Prior to World War II, the UHCC area was dominated by tall-grass prairie. In the 1940s, the area was used as Camp Wallace, resulting in human disturbance to portions of the prairie and the introduction of non-native species. Current land management goals include maintaining the areas of pristine prairie and restoring areas invaded by invasive species or disturbed by human activity. While much of the above can be considered impactful to sustainability, an ongoing innovative effort coming from the center is a seed distribution program, detailed below.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

As a community service and ecological commitment, UH allows the seeds from the pristine patches of the Coastal Center to be harvested by the Native American Seed company and other groups, which are then made available to organizations and individuals engaged in prairie restoration and native plant projects all across the country. Given the highly-endangered habitat, with less than 0.1% remaining worldwide, the preservation and reintroduction of these seeds is vital to preserving this unique ecosystem and biodiversity.

In addition to the Native American Seed company, which sells the rare seed commercially (20% of the earnings go back to the coastal center), some seeds are also collected by Texas Master Naturalists to grow mature plants. These adult plants are used in local restoration projects. Finally, some seeds are also sent to the Katy Prairie Conservatory's (a separate conservation agency) "Great Grow Out", which is a program where community volunteers of all ages grow prairie plants for use in restoration projects.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research Yes
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy No
Grounds Yes
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

Coastal Center Main Page: http://www.eih.uh.edu//

Native American Seed Company Webpage: http://www.seedsource.com/Default.asp

Katy Prairie Conservancy Webpage: http://www.katyprairie.org/

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.