This past November, members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Sustainability Committee launched the university’s first Sustainability Master Plan.
The plan, which was facilitated by the Verdis Group and led by representatives from across campus as well as the Omaha community, identifies new policies and practices that can be implemented by UNO that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible, financially feasible and will benefit the campus now and into the future.
To share this plan, members of the Sustainability Committee are holding a series of seven weekly brown bag sessions that highlight each of the areas in which UNO is committed to sustainability, and your input is needed to make our future more sustainable!
The third session, being held on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, Rooms 201 and 205, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will focus on the topic of Water and Sustainable Sites.
Arguably, water usage is one of the most significant items to consider when evaluating sustainability. With more than 97 million gallons of water being used by UNO students, faculty and staff each year, the campus’ impact on the city and state’s water usage is significant.
This brown bag session will provide faculty, staff and students with an explanation of what UNO’ plans are to improve water usage, as well as how to adjust landscaping to maximize recycled water. There will also be a chance to ask questions and share new ideas with the committee.
Where We’ve Been
- In 2013, a nationally recognized and award winning bio-retention garden was opened to the west of UNO’s Welcome Center. The garden effectively minimizes stormwater runoff and enhances water quality through water capture and infiltration, and provides an enjoyable educational campus space for visitors, students, faculty and staff.
- UNO conducted a Storm Sewer study in 2011 to evaluate water quality and address issues of excess storm water runoff. UNO has begun to implement strategies from the study to improve water quality and better control storm water runoff.
Where We’re Going
- UNO has a goal of a 25 percent reduction in water usage, per campus user, by 2025 and an even further goal of a 50 percent reduction, per campus user, by 2050.
- Plans to address excess water in residence halls through water-use tracking measurements; upgrading shower heads in University Village and Maverick Village; and reviewing residence hall irrigation meters to ensure they are not being charged sewer fees.
- Re-evaluating water applications, such as sprinklers, to minimize their use and restrict use to optimal times and weather conditions.
- Upgrading equipment on campus including restroom faucets, appliances used by UNO Food Services, toilets, showers and more.
- Explore the potential of waste water reclamation for filtration, treatment and use where available.
More ideas explored on this topic can be viewed in the Sustainability Master Plan, which is available online. The section devoted to Water and Sustainable Sites covers pages 65 through 72.
- Feb. 18 (OPPD Dialog Rooms) – Materials, Waste Recycling
- Feb. 25 (OPPD Dialog Rooms) – Campus Culture
- March 4 (OPPD Dialog Rooms) – Campus Planning and Mobilit
- March 13 (Rooms 205/209) – Academics and Research
- March 18 (Rooms 201/205) – Energy, Buildings and Emissions
For those unable to attend this or any of the upcoming forums, please feel free to contact one of the Sustainability Committee co-chairs: Jonna Holland, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Patrick Wheeler, at email@example.com.