Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.36
Liaison Marianella Franklin
Submission Date Jan. 10, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
IN-47: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Marianella Franklin
Director of Sustainability
The Office For Sustainability
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Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Center for Urban Ecology

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:
Currently beginning construction, the Center for Urban Ecology is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2023. The project is being developed by a partnership between UTRGV, the City of McAllen, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, McAllen Transit Park & Ride, the McAllen Independent School District (MISD) and the U.S Economic Development Administration. It will be part of P.A.L.M (Plants, Animals, Land and Humankind) house, a larger project of the Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center, whose mission to enrich people's lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants and environmental stewardship in South Texas is deeply rooted in the history, culture and ecology of McAllen and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This historical partnership bringing the intellectual and financial resources of the city, K-12 institutions and higher education together to build a common place that will be accessible to the community is truly unique and unprecedented in the nation.

In a climate where sustainability practices and agricultural research are increasingly crucial, one of the best ways to teach younger generations about important ecological elements is by encouraging them to get their hands dirty. The new 14-acre research center–the Center for Urban Ecology–will promote the concept of providing hands-on workspaces and a discovery center where K-12 students, higher education students and the community can all learn about biodiversity, and much more. The center will be a hub for sustainability, a place where students can connect with nature by learning about native plants, learn to identify insects and bird species, and learn about regional ecosystems.

The Center for Urban Ecology will be a flagship for urban sustainability, being a multi-use ecotourism destination for the Rio Grande Valley, and impactful research center. It will also serve as an example for future development in our rapidly growing region. The goal for the Center for Urban Ecology is to become LEED (Leader in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-certified from the LEED Green Building Council, as the site and center will be sustainably constructed. In addition, the facility will be Sustainable SITES Landscaping-certified – with a platinum high standard goal, as well.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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