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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions.

Please give us a call if your question is not answered here.  You can scroll down to read the entire list, or click on the question for a direct link.

What is "Sustainability"?
What does the Office of Sustainability do?
Why aren't we (insert idea, item, action, or product)?
What is SustainTECH?
What do the three leaves in the SustainTECH logo mean?
Does Texas Tech have a recycling center?

 

WHAT IS "SUSTAINABILITY"?

It's "being green", right?  In part, yes.  But in balance with other equally important factors.

Broken down to its essence sustainability is a simple concept.  Remember the conservation and stewardship lessons from 4-H, FFA, or ag eco?  Combine them and you have sustainability.  It is a straightforward philosophy of giving equal consideration to three basic responsibilities - economic, environmental, and social.  Sustainability, the ability to perpetually maintain an outcome, results from a balance of these responsibilities.

 

Sustainability Diagram

Sounds simple, right? In concept, yes.  In application it can be a daunting challenge. Some sustainability efforts are easy; Turn off the lights when you leave the room, throw your recyclables in the proper container, switch to low-flow water fixtures.  Others can be a logistic, operational, or financial nightmare – How you divert product waste from the landfill when there's no place for the diverted product to be sent?  Where to find the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars for equipment retrofits without impacting our academic mission?  How do you change a traditionally acceptable common behavior which is impacting our sustainability?

Those are the questions Texas Tech faces every day.

 

WHAT DOES THE OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY DO?

Beginning early in 2013 plans were implemented to dramatically improve the Office of Sustainability's visibility on campus, within the Lubbock community, and online. With the improvement in local and online presence we can better promote sustainability efforts at Texas Tech.  Our goal is to make sustainability such a common part of the Texas Tech ethos that it takes on a life of its own.  This means promotions, public relations, lifestyle education, and general outreach to the campus community.  The cumulative effect of these small, personal efforts is the single most effective, and ultimately easiest and cheapest, way to improve campus sustainability.

The Office of Sustainability also researches ways to make the campus more efficient and less wasteful, to help us be a better host to campus residents and employees, and to be a better neighbor to the Lubbock community.  This could include anything from an idea found online, to a new process or product discovered at a trade show, and everything in between.  Part of our job is to keep our eyes open for new, more efficient, more effective, less harmful, and generally better ways of doing things at Texas Tech University.

Finally, we try to be a campus-wide coordinator for academic sustainability needs.  Past sustainability efforts have been localized with departments, offices, or organizations working towards sustainability goals on their own.  We are trying to change that, becoming the Go To Source for campus-wide sustainability information and coordination.  The Office of Sustainability is always on the lookout for a resource in search of a need, or vice versa.  If you have either, please call! We would love to be part of helping you find a solution.

 

WHY AREN'T WE...?

Why isn't Texas Tech doing (insert process, idea, product, technology, or philosophy here)? The answer?  We would love to!  Unfortunately real life can serve up budgetary, regulatory, or logistics challenges which keep us from doing all the things we want to do.  Sometimes it means repairing what we have even though it's not as efficient as a newer, but much more expensive, technology.  Or it could mean focusing on something not popular in social media, but which will have much more positive effects on campus sustainability goals.

"Isn't that just an excuse to not worry about sustainability?"  Not at all.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  True sustainability takes careful thought, planning, and organization.  Sometimes that means stepping back, taking a deep breath, looking at things from a new perspective, and finding ways to use resources in newer, more efficient ways. That's what Texas Tech is doing now. And it's beginning to show.

As part of a renewed commitment to sustainability, Texas Tech has reviewed, revised, and sometimes completely discarded practices, procedures, and policies in lieu of newer, better, more efficient operational philosophies. In the Operations Division, for example, new construction and major remodels are now designed and developed to LEED guidelines. This takes additional time and resources during the planning and construction stages, but pays dividends over the life of the building.  Another example is the Campus Recycling Center operated by Housing Services.  The center takes a great deal of time, money, and effort to operate, much of it dependent on student and volunteer help, but in return hundreds of tons of materials are diverted from landfills each year. Proceeds from sold materials are used to fund scholarships.

 

WHAT IS SustainTECH?

SustainTECH is a uniquely Texas Tech identity for campus sustainability efforts.  SustainTECH is a unification tool, a way for us to combine forces and mold our hard work into a large, visible, and more accessible public entity that is easily found and widely recognized.

Any office, organization, or entity on campus can be a SustainTECH partner.  It's easy.  The more partners we have, the larger SustainTECH becomes. That growth translates to a greater presence within the campus community, Lubbock in general, and on web search engines and social media outlets.  That means we get more recognition for our efforts!  It also gives a central point for those interested in sustainability at Texas Tech to begin their search.  Visit the SustainTECH page for more information.

 

WHAT DO THE THREE LEAVES IN THE SustainTECH LOGO MEAN?

The three leaves above the "S" in SustainTECH signify the three responsibilities; Economic, Social, and Environmental.  The colors-red, black, and green-tie our Red Raider spirit to our sustainability commitment. 

 

DOES TEXAS TECH HAVE A RECYCLING CENTER?

You bet we do!  The recycling center is operated by Housing Services and is located on the north side of the Physical Plant annex.  You will find a list of accepted items, contact information, a map, and more on their web page