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Ask Jim A Question

Ask Jim GraphicEach semester, Jim Walker, UT Austin’s Director of Sustainability sits down with students on the West Mall to answer questions about sustainability at the university. The following questions were asked at our last “Ask Jim” event, and then sent out on Twitter for our followers. They now serve as the Office of Sustainability’s evolving list of frequently asked questions.

Ask us your own question on Twitter, and be sure to use the #AskJim hashtag!

Sustainability Logo@UTAustinGreen @UTAustin - "Where does UT Austin's energy come from?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We have used natural gas since 1930 to produce our own power and thermal energy on campus, and won awards for efficiency! utexas.edu/utilities/

Sustainability Logo@UTAustinGreen @UTAustin - “Is there a place for UT Austin’s full or partial divestment from fossil fuels?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Fossil fuel #divestment will be all but impossible for most Texas public universities, but it’s a conversation worth having on every campus. @350

Sustainability Logo@UTAustinGreen @UTAustin - “What’s an update on the Council of Business Productivity’s conservation goals?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
In Jan 2013, Pres. Powers created the Transforming UT initiative http://ow.ly/qyjrU to research and report back on the CBP Report, including energy conservation goals

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - “Can I recycle glass on campus?” #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Yes! @UTAustin is now single stream recycling, meaning that you can put all recycling in 1 bin! We are still rolling out the program, http://ow.ly/qykwR

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - “Are you offering any internships?” #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
From time to time. Follow @UTAustinGreen or check out https://www.utexas.edu/operations/sustainability/opportunities.html

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - What is it all for? #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Ah yes, the Big Question we must all answer for ourselves. Happy to compare notes over coffee sometime – hit us up @UTAustinGreen

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "How involved are you on new construction projects on campus?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We mostly provide support to the many great @UTAustin project managers and design teams on our growing number of new @USGBC #LEED buildings http://ow.ly/qymm7

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What percentage of trash taken to the landfill is actually recyclable?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We are planning to do a campus waste audit in the spring once our new Zero Waste Coordinator is on board (but we think it’s a lot!).  Aiming for #zerowaste by 2020

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What is #sustainability?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We believe #sustainability means taking personal responsibility for understanding and working on resource management and social issues at whatever scale you can.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "How long would Austin last if the city had to rely on just the water currently in the lakes?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Not long since Austin’s drinking water lakes are around 30% capacity, http://ow.ly/qyoFs Hopefully #TxWater and #drought will become a hotter topic on campuses.

@UTAustin is doing our part for water conservation - http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2013/04/05/uts-irrigation-system-saves-millions-of-gallons-since-last-year

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why is there no hot water in the bathrooms in MAIN?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Hmmm, there should be – contact your Energy Steward!  energysteward@austin.utexas.edu

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Where can I get low-flow equipment for my off-campus apartment?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
At the store. Better yet, ask your apartment manager what they recommend. Better better yet, check out this City of Austin site http://ow.ly/qypLd

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why are the lights in FAC left on after the building is closed?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Might be Custodial Services in there, they will turn off lights as they leave. But go ahead and contact the Energy Stewards anyway energysteward@austin.utexas.edu

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Is it really ok to throw fruit on the ground since its biodegradable?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We’d rather you not litter at all (@DMWT_Program), and also not to feed the squirrels (we know they’re cute, but …). We’re hoping to launch campus wide composting soon.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Where does e-waste generated from UT Austin go?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
If it has a UT Inventory tag, it goes to Surplus Property. If it’s personal e-waste, check out ESW on campus, http://ow.ly/qyREY, or  Goodwill, http://ow.ly/qyqMc

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "I can't figure out how to turn the AC off in my apartment, can you help me with that?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Well, first, try going to your thermostat, or window unit, and turn it off.  If that doesn’t work, contact the Austin Energy Multi-Family Program, http://ow.ly/qyS8I 

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What was the weirdest meeting related to sustainability you've sat in on?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
The fun thing about #sustainability is – there are no weird meetings – it’s all connected and relevant! #funtimes

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What is UT Austin doing to divest from fossil fuels?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Honestly, not much right now.  UT Austin is one of several beneficiaries of UTIMCO whose current policies on investment do not include divestment.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What is your view on LEED, and are most buildings on campus LEED certified?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
@UTAustin has a policy for new buildings to meet #LEED Silver, and most of our recent buildings have achieved LEED Gold, http://ow.ly/qyT5m

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "How are we doing in terms of sustainability and waste management compared to other universities of our size?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We think we do pretty well at 51% diversion, with a 2020 zero waste goal, check out @UTAustin in http://recyclemaniacs.org/ or https://stars.aashe.org/

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What will the Office of Sustainability concentrate on in the near future?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Updating our Greenhouse Gas Inventory, our #AASHEStars reporting and our @UTAustin #sustainability policy, helping launch new courses, and having fun.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "What can students do to promote sustainability on campus?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
They can get involved – with our office or a student org or just other students - and promote the change they want to see. We’re happy to help!  Contact us @UTAustinGreen

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why does UT Austin have its own power plant?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
In the 1920s, @UTAustin leaders decided the university could better meet our educational mission by generating our own power, http://www.utexas.edu/utilities/

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "I know you are raising awareness about sustainability on campus, what else are you doing...?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Trying to figure out what the fox says.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why is single-stream recycling better for #sustainability?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Some believe it isn’t, but we believe single-stream is easier to manage and message. We still need to use less stuff and educate people, but that’s #sustainability.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Is there any infrastructure for grassroots #sustainability initiatives rather than top-down initiatives?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Yes - our many @UTAustin student organizations, among others, http://www.utexas.edu/sustainability/involved.php

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Rather than our current energy reduction goals, why don't we do something ambitious like going "energy neutral" by 2020?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We like how you think! But it won’t be easy. @UTAustin currently uses almost 300M kwh/year at $0.06/kwh. Let’s get coffee and compare notes …

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "How can we encourage students off campus to get involved in sustainability?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Besides the on-campus opportunities, http://ow.ly/qyXTZ, there are many off campus opportunities in Austin, @AustinEcoNet is a great place to start

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why are we not composting paper towels in the restrooms?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We’ve definitely thought about it. This is one of several ongoing composting related conversations happening with Custodial Services. Stay tuned!

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Does UT Austin face challenges as large public university that it wouldn't if it was a small private school?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Sure, there are more buildings, people and stuff to manage. And the public oversight is different, but the advantage is we tend to make a bigger splash when we do act.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Are you a new organization on campus?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
The @UTAustin Office of Sustainability (@UTAustinGreen) was founded in 2010, so yeah, we’re pretty new! 

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Are there internships available for students that are interested in sustainability?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Why, yes. Yes there are. Check out https://www.utexas.edu/operations/sustainability/opportunities.html

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Will you please move your truck out of President Powers' parking spot?" --Campus Police #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Yessir. Right away sir. Thank you sir.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustinGreen - What new things are happening in transportation towards sustainability on campus? #askJim

→ UT Sustainability
@UTAustin encourages students, faculty and staff to find alternatives to driving alone to get to campus http://ow.ly/qyZtk (rail would be great!) @Connect_centex

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why aren't all the new plantings on campus xeriscaping?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
We’re trying! The transition to a more water efficient landscape takes time. Look for a new Campus Landscape Plan next spring http://ow.ly/qyZVI

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "How are our trees doing on campus with the drought?" "How can I help care for the trees on campus?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Our trees are very stressed, have been since 2009. You can follow @UTAustinGreen for updates and opportunities to help our Arborist.

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - "Why does a raccoon leave no waste on its plate?" #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Because they are so danged cute!  But seriously, they’re efficient little critters. @UTexasDining #UTCleanPlate

Sustainability Logo@UTAustin - Why is my office in the PCL so cold??! #AskJim

→ UT Sustainability
Hmmm, there are several possibilities – contact your Energy Steward!  energysteward@austin.utexas.edu

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