What We're Doing

    Issues of sustainability in the built environment are intertwined with architectural integrity and preservation.  The impression UTPA makes on the community is connected to constructed and natural factors.  Through the establishment of guidelines for maintaining the character of campus buildings, in tandem with ensuring that historic buildings are safe, functional, and energy efficient, UTPA can promote sustainability awareness.  The development of site-specific metering and monitoring systems that alert users to energy consumption and provide data for informed decision making, as well as the promotion of green-building concepts in commissioning and retro-commissioning of buildings, are ways that the university can support sustainability.  Construction and renovation projects impact campus sustainability in numerous ways. While the work is occurring, the university is responsible for causing major increases in the use of materials, energy used by construction equipment, air pollution from equipment, disturbance of soils, as well as sediment runoff to local waterways and generation of solid waste.  Decisions made in the design and construction phases strongly affect these impacts, and continue to affect the energy and maintenance costs of the building throughout its lifetime. 

    We are working hard to limit the financial and economic impacts of these projects.  Our objective at UTPA is to utilize energy-efficient and sustainable design standards on all new construction and applicable renovation projects and strive to meet or exceed a LEED silver level of sustainability.  The Starr County Upper Level Center (SCULC), while not obtaining LEED certification, has followed as many LEED guidelines as possible in constructing the building.  The projected savings of $349, 777 is to occur over 30 years. 

    The project site has tightly designed Limits of Construction.

  • The parking lot was detailed with consideration for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles. All exterior light fixtures were specified to comply with International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) standards, and all landscaping was designed to be water efficient. 
  • The HVAC system for chilling water provides greater efficiency and lower KW/ton, and the power-smith transformers are more efficient. 
  • The mechanical system has been designed to provide optimized energy performance with enhanced refrigerant management.

    The original project budget was supplemented during the course of the project, to accommodate a highly efficient four pipe mechanical system that will provide efficient cooling in the challenging climate of South Texas. This investment expresses the University’s commitment to long-term energy management, and it allowed the design team to efficiently coordinate this critical energy system.

Hensley, R. Don., AIA, LEED AP. SHW Group. (2010).


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