The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is dedicated to maintaining a sustainable institute of higher education. The university is located in an urban environment that provides a unique opportunity to decrease our impact on the environment while maintaining a standard of educational services.
During the past year, UA Little Rock focused on maintaining a safe and healthy campus environment. To respond to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the campus was closed to all unessential personnel. Those that did come to campus had to verify their health status and adhere to a strict mandate of wearing masks and following strict sanitation protocols. For the fall 2020 semester, the campus was partially opened. Online classes were encouraged and social distancing was required in classroom environments. Class sizes were restricted to assure that social distancing was achievable. Each office and classroom were stocked with disinfecting supplies and masks were available at no cost. Nightly interior fogging is being done with a pine-based product that has minimal health issues. The provided classroom wipes use hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient. Since a large part of the campus was not utilized the university required less energy to operate.
The university has continued to operate a recycling program. This year the campus recycled less tonnage of paper, cardboard, aluminum, and plastic then in prior years due to the lack of personnel on campus. We began accepting batteries for recycling. To decrease the contamination of the recycling, trash receptacles have been placed adjacent to the recycling containers. The university has also been able to replace several large waste dumpsters with units dedicated to cardboard collection.
There were 22 applications for the 2021-2022 Sustainability grant. A majority of the proposals were from individual students or a small team. The following is a list of the grant winners:
Pollinator Garden $1,600
Bee Houses for Solitary Bees $ 350
Rescaping the Trojan Lawn with Native Grasses $2,500
Butterfly Garden $1,18
The committee, in conjunction with the local electricity provider, Entergy, conducted giveaway events. Those interest to get an LED desk lamp, energy saving power strip and four LED bulbs. Over 2000 lamps and power strips and 8000 light bulbs were distributed.
The university also added four hydration stations for campus buildings and several benches for installation along the Coleman Creek Walkway.
The Sustainability Committee continued to distribute “Sustainability Tips” each month during the academic year to the campus to provide information about concepts, events and activities related to sustainability.
The campus community has continued to operate a student lead campus garden. Members of the UA Little Rock campus can use raised beds in this area for growing produce for their consumption. Several large community plantings provide produce for the school’s Food Pantry and offers some items for sale to the campus. The garden also operates a composting program that includes coffee grounds from campus offices.
For the past decade, all major building renovations and new construction are built to achieve LEED accreditation from the US Green Building Council. Additionally, the mechanical and electrical systems in the existing buildings have been upgraded to reduce the use of electricity and natural gas. This year the university continued to replace the valves on plumbing fixtures in all of the campus’s restrooms with water reducing controls.
Sustainability Committee Chair,
Jim Carr AC, GMB, CGP