Sustainability Projects - The University of Tulsa

Sustainability Projects

Water Initiatives


A large portion of the water consumed at The University of Tulsa is for the lawns. To prevent water loss, a high technology sprinkler system becomes a necessity. During the last five years, TU has implemented new technologies in three phases to reduce water consumption. In phase one (2011), a Rainbird Sprinkler system was installed. This system is completely interconnected, and breaks the sprinklers down into zones that are monitored via computer 24 hours a day for any burst pipes or broken sprinklers. In phase two (2012), an advanced weather system that can detect rain, moisture of soil, and wind speed was installed, enabling the sprinkler system to calculate how much water was necessary, then shut off water supply when appropriate. Phase three of the sprinkler system included flow sensors and valve controls. The sensors monitor the university’s 12 water feeders and are capable of shutting down a zone until repairs are made. The valve controls measure through-put in the pipes and water output, calculating the amount of time a sprinkler should run.


The fountains around the university also are connected to a weather station that monitors wind speed. If wind speed is too high, the fountains will run at half of their maximum height. The water used in the fountains also comes from a reclamation tank, so water is continually reused.

Permeable Pavers

TU is a member of Partners for A Clean Environment (PACE), a voluntary, nonregulatory program coordinated by the City of Tulsa’s Quality Assurance and Stormwater Quality groups. Use of permeable stone pavers near Lorton Performance Center allows the university to be a member of PACE’s group of Low Impact Developers. The permeable pavers contribute to a healthier watershed by allowing storm water to seep into the ground rather than overwhelming nearby streams during flood events. The pavers also keep pollutants from entering the waterways, while lessening rates of erosion.

Hydration Stations     

The university recognizes the positive impact of refillable water bottles. By distributing free water bottles to the student body and installing over 65 “Hydration Stations” around campus, TU has contributed to the reduction of plastic water bottles. The Hydration Stations allow those on campus a quick and easy water bottle refill while simultaneously tallying plastic water bottles saved. As of the last count in February 2014, TU had saved 1.82 million plastic water bottles.

Go Trayless

Conservation of our resources is a fundamental aspect of sustainability. Going trayless means that when we go through food lines in the cafeterias, or elsewhere, we do so without a tray. Being trayless conserves food as well as the water needed to wash the trays.

Food Initiatives

Food Bank

Dining Services has many programs promoting sustainability that are related to food production. TU participates in the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma’s Food Recovery Program that donates leftover food from both the Pat Case Dining Center and Allen Chapman Student Union. A representative from the Food Bank comes to TU twice a week — Tuesday and Thursdays — to pick up food, which is then distributed to other centers that feed hungry people in Tulsa. TU has donated 4,400 pounds of food through the Food Recovery Program since April 2015. This program is making great progress in reducing the amount of food thrown away while helping the community.

Paper Initiatives

TU implemented paperless services to save paper. Services include:

  • Direct deposit requirement for most payroll and reimbursement transactions
  • Duplex Printing in computer labs
  • Use of the TU Portal for important paperwork
  • Mandatory online completion of Human Resources’ Monthly Leave form
  • TU Employee Phone Directory only available online
  • Double-sided copying default initiative in Collins College of Business and the Student Association
  • Collins College of Business Academic Advising Office completed conversion from paper files to electronic files
  • Physical Plant currently is working on distributing work orders via mobile devices, eliminating paper printed work orders.
  • Under the new print quote policy, each student is limited to 1,000 black and white pages or page-sides per semester. After the 1,000 pages have been reached, students will be required to purchase more pages. This is in effort to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from printing.

Energy Initiatives

Solar Panels

TU continues to lead sustainability efforts among educational institutions in Oklahoma by the addition of 936 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels that were installed on the roof of the Case Tennis Center in 2016. The 300-kilowatt system is owned by PSO and leased by TU. To maximize energy production throughout the day, approximately half of the panels face east and the other half face west. The panels should produce up to 400,000 kilowatt-hours of energy a year, the same amount of solar energy harvested by 75 residential structures. The electricity generated will supply power to the Case Center.

Energy Management

The university’s goal is to implement gridSMART technology into the largest academic buildings, eventually followed by campus apartments. This technology will allow students to use electricity more efficiently.

Energy Metering Project

The goal here is to improve building features to save money and electricity. Our initial specific target is installation of occupancy sensors as part of all renovations and new construction to save lighting costs. Sensors have been added to Mabee gym and are in College of Law renovation plans. Keplinger Hall’s renovated classrooms include sensor lighting. The third floor of Helmerich Hall has increased the arch value of the building envelope, increased insulation to a 4 factor of 30.

Construction/renovation completed in Tyrrell Hall included replacing lighting and other structural changes to improve the electrical mechanical elements and to improve the efficiency of the roof tile. The single pane leaded glass windows were rebuilt maintaining the original look.

Purchasing Initiatives

All computers must be purchased via the internal campus computer store. Each purchase also includes a mandated Dell managed recycling program to ensure the equipment is disposed of properly at the end of its life.

WFF oversees all of our purchasing of cleaning supplies for the campus. As policy, all main cleaning products purchased are GreenSeal certified.

Our paper supplier, WordCom, supplies only recycled paper unless the department requests specifically non-recycled for special needs projects and or what the department requests is not available as a recycled product.