Category Archives: sustainability

Campus Tree Care Plan

UTSA’s Tree Care Plan has been finalized for the second year in a row! Thanks to the continued dedication of the Office of Facilities Operations and Maintenance to ensure the protection of the tree canopy! We are pleased to announce that our beautiful campus will be preserved for present and future generations of students to enjoy. Below is the Tree Care Plan designed by Isabella Vazquez, an intern in the Office of Sustainability.

If you would like to review our policies in depth, you can download the plan below.

UTSA names Lani May ’03, ’06 as Director of Sustainability

(Feb. 7, 2019) —  As UTSA strengthens its efforts to build a healthier, more sustainable campus community, President Taylor Eighmy today announced the selection of Lani May ’03, ’06 as the university’s new Director of Sustainability. For the last nine years, May has served as a senior environmental planner in the UTSA Office of Facilities.

As Director of the UTSA Office of Sustainability, which is housed in the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, May will lead the planning, implementation and advancement of university-wide sustainability initiatives. She will also provide expertise in the review and ongoing management of green construction projects and chair the UTSA Sustainability Council, a UTSA standing committee that advises the President and university leadership on strategies to enhance UTSA’s sustainability performance.

“Taking a leadership role in addressing our region’s sustainability challenges is an important priority for UTSA,” said Eighmy. “Our university has a unique responsibility to make decisions that foster the environmental welfare of our campuses and our city, integrating the best sustainability practices into the life of the campus. Lani’s expertise, background and passion make her the perfect person to lead these efforts.”

May has more than 13 years of experience in environmental compliance, geographic information system mapping, standards implementation, grant application and award management, green initiatives, and sustainable project coordination. For the past seven months, she has served as UTSA’s interim sustainability director in a part-time capacity.

Prior to joining UTSA, May spent more than six years as the natural resources coordinator at Brooks City-Base. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in environmental science from UTSA and is currently working on her Ph.D. at UTSA in civil and environmental engineering.

May will continue to support UTSA Facilities on a part-time basis for the next three months, as she transitions to her new position, effective immediately.

“Responding to the national search process we just completed, Ms. May was among a distinguished group of applicants,” said John Murphy, dean of the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning. “Based upon her history of success, her professional skill set and her complete commitment to the field of sustainability, we believe we have selected the top person to lead us to a more sustainable future here at UTSA.”

Over the last decade, UTSA has implemented numerous conservation efforts, saving money and reducing energy and water consumption. Those initiatives have allowed the university to keep total energy consumption stable over the past 10 years, saving more than $3.1 million despite an increasing student population and growing campus infrastructure. Strategic water conservation efforts, for example, include synthetic turf on football practice and intramural fields, low flow restrooms, showers and sinks, and using reclaimed water for the Sombrilla Fountain and to cool some research facilities and have saved UTSA more than 30 million gallons each year.

The Office of Facilities and Office of Sustainability are working together on several conceptual plans to add bicycle and pedestrian lanes to campus and create pedestrian/bicycle corridors. Student leaders are also proposing to add charging stations for the growing number of scooters on campus.

As a discovery enterprise and an urban serving institution, UTSA applies the expertise of its researchers to find innovative solutions for regional challenges, serving as a model for sustainability education and leading through its actions in the protection and preservation of the environment.

Source: Courtney Clevenger, UTSA Today

Shale Magazine: UTSA Honors College Prepares Students for the Challenges Ahead



This fall finds me teaching Honors College freshmen in an introductory course under the rubric of Energy. Other sections address themes such as Sustainability, Media and even Happiness.The Honors Tutorial I is a required course for all Honors College matriculates. Instructors work with aspiring scholars on how to read, write and engage in popular intellectual discourse. As such, the approach is, by definition, highly interdisciplinary in nature. Students identify and evaluate sources of information, and develop a base of knowledge essential for engaging in public policy conversations.Given the acrimonious rhetoric now common in public policy debates, it’s worth dissecting where those exchanges sometimes go off the rails. In many cases, issues are oversimplified — a hammer sees everything as a nail. Alternatively, sometimes experts enter the fray with such a narrow focus that the bigger picture gets lost in the exquisite detail. All too often, the debate merely descends into personal attack.Honors College freshmen have excelled over their academic careers at specialized study in discrete courses: math, physical sciences, biology, selected portions of world history and the like. Rarely, however, are they tasked with bringing the pieces together as public policy discussions require. Their challenge then is to cultivate confidence by linking the individual disciplines with which they have become familiar to create meaningful, coherent and credible narratives.

The facility to discuss public policy issues in a lucid manner benefits from a unifying context to encourage those linkages. The framework employed in my class is a concept called Big History, which David Christian, among other scholars, has developed as a way to paint a very large canvas in broad strokes. In barely 300 pages, Christian lays out an account of events not possible until very recently. Big History elucidates a timeline in rapid-fire succession, from the origin of the universe to present day. This high-level, yet comprehensive view across disciplines allows learners to plug their individual specialization of study into the larger picture.For the theme of energy, I chose to take an expansive definition in order to give students latitude to pursue their own particular research interests. For example, all of the mega-innovations over the course of human history involve releasing new flows of energy — including some that we don’t often stop to consider. With the Agrarian Revolution, which began around 10,000 years ago, humans systematically extracted the energy from photosynthesis — essentially captured sunlight. This caused a big change in lifestyles. Prior to that, human ancestry spent roughly 2 million years wandering the earth as hunter-gatherers — by far the dominant era of human history in terms of duration.Another, more recent mega-innovation involved harnessing fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, which constitute other forms of captured sunlight. The Industrial Revolution represents a recent and profound transformation of human civilization, activity and lifestyles — first with steam power, then later with more efficient internal combustion engines.The ability to tap these new sources doubled human energy consumption during the 19th century. Then in the 20th century, energy consumption rose by a factor of 10 — much faster than the rate of increase in human populations.

Unleashing such enormous energy flows reverberates widely across regions and continents. According to Christian, diesel pumps remove freshwater from aquifers 10 times faster than natural flows are able to replenish them. We produce minerals, rocks and other forms of matter that have never existed before, such as plastics, pure aluminum, stainless steel and massive amounts of concrete. Intelligent and practical public policy should inform our capacity to harness vast quantities of energy and their associated products.

According to Christian, most modern educational systems don’t spend much time working with students to look at the future in a systematic fashion. Big History presents an opportunity for undergraduates to see the long arc of how we arrived at this precise moment in time and — as future policymakers — to articulate thoughtful scenarios about the path forward.
About the author: Thomas Tunstall, Ph.D., is the Senior Research Director at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development, and was a principal investigator for numerous economic and community development studies. He has published peer-reviewed articles on shale oil and gas, and has written op-ed articles on the topic for the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Tunstall holds a doctorate degree in political economy, a master’s in business administration from The University of Texas at Dallas, and a bachelor of business administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Annual State Employee Charitable Campaign allows faculty and staff to give back


The State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) is the workplace giving campaign for State of Texas employees, including state universities and colleges. The University of Texas at San Antonio participates in the SECC with the coordination of donations managed by the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.

2018 Goal: $175,000

Campaign Dates: October 1 to November 2

>> Details / view videos

Give Online

SECC Fundraisers

Online Silent Auction
Additional Fundraiser – Donate your art, photos, crafts, etc. and bid on these items! Proceeds benefit Texas charities.

Weekly Drawing
Each week, SECC contributors can win fabulous prizes! Pledge before each Friday to be entered to win.