sustainability - The University of Tulsa


Professors receive Fulbright awards to conduct research in Europe

University of Tulsa Professor of Marketing Brian Chabowski has been granted a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Finland and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Erin Iski has received a Fulbright award to the Czech Republic.

“This recognition supports Dr. Chabowski’s well-regarded research in international marketing and sustainability, plus his professional background provides a solid foundation for his proposed Fulbright projects,” remarked Acting Provost Tracy Manly. “For Dr. Iski, the Fulbright award allows her to advance her work at this critical stage of her career and then share the findings with the growing number of TU students who are interested in the intersection of biology and chemistry.”

Sustainability in Finland

man with short hair and glasses smiling while wearing a black blazer
Brian Chabowski

Beginning in August 2021, Chabowski will research for nine months at the University of Vaasa in partnership with the Fulbright Finland Foundation as part of a series of projects that examine domestic and international aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability implementation. “Since I began studying the topic of sustainability over a decade ago,” Chabowski said, “it has been well known that Finland is a model country which has successfully implemented widespread sustainability projects in the private and public sectors in a very comprehensive manner on a local, national, and international scale.”

His proposal includes four distinct projects to begin while in Finland. These plans focus on international social ventures; marketing channel sustainability; emergent and sustainable energy solutions for small and medium enterprises; and digital entrepreneurship and sustainability competitiveness. He intends to coordinate with local partners of the University of Vaasa, such as the Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab and the Technobothnia research and development laboratory to survey local businesses on their domestic and international sustainability-related initiatives. “It is a great honor to be selected as a Fulbright scholar, and I want to take this exceptional opportunity to conduct in-country research and then return with newly gained insights to apply to real-life classroom examples as well as elsewhere at TU.”

Under the microscope in the Czech Republic

woman with long light-colored hair smiling and wearing a patterned blouse
Erin Iski

Based at Charles University in Prague, Iski will focus on the use of specialized microscopy to understand and investigate biological molecules on gold nanoparticles. Her work is pertinent to a variety of fields, including origin of life studies, in which it is critical to understand how small biological molecules interact on metal surfaces and perhaps join together to grow larger structures, such as proteins. Iski’s collaboration with Anna Fučíková in Prague is essential to the success of the larger project because Fučíková’s group is particularly suited to understanding these interactions under biological conditions. “In many ways,” noted Iski, “this scholarship presents the natural next step in my foundational work at TU.”

Becoming a Fulbright Global Scholar has been a career goal of Iski’s for as long as she knew the opportunity existed. “Now, not only will I have the chance to perform transformative research in a group that specializes in my niche research area, but I also get to create lasting cultural and academic relationships in one of the most amazing places in Europe.” Iski added that, given her ancestral background is in Eastern Europe, she looks forward to immersing herself in the culture, history and language of the Czech Republic. “And after learning about the Fulbright mission, I believe these goals are exactly what was intended in the founding of this program.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, to counter misunderstandings and to help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and discover solutions to shared international concerns.

Sowing the seeds of sustainability

For the past several years, visiting professor of business Bethany Johns (MEB ’16) has volunteered with the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Sowing Seeds in Belize. The mission of this organization is “to educate, equip and empower through educational sponsorship and resources to train and enable local entrepreneurs in sustainable, self-sufficient business development.”

Professor Bethany Johns wearing glasses and a dark blazer
Visiting Professor Bethany Johns

Sowing Seeds in Belize provides some material goods, such as clothing and school supplies, to villagers in rural southern Belize through its Container Ministry. However, the bulk of the organization’s work is focused on providing training that helps residents develop the knowledge they require to launch sustainable business ventures. According to Johns, “volunteers are more than an extra pair of hands. Labor is not so much the need. It’s really about offering education and life skills.”

Sowing seeds, growing futures

“Instead of imposing our thoughts,” Johns said, “we instead offer aid to help the locals’ ideas come to fruition.” Johns points to the example of a self-sustaining greenhouse. The desire for such a structure arose amongst the members of a church in Belize, while volunteers – including Johns – from the United States supplied the design and guidance on how to construct it.

four women cooking inside a wooden structure
Preparing handmade purple corn tortillas over an open flame

“This partnership enabled the church to build the means to provide sustenance for the community,” remarked Johns. “There were no ideals or beliefs imposed on another culture. Rather, it allowed the seed of sustainability to take root. From the community garden where seedlings and gardening practices were offered, locals were able to toil and tend to Mother Nature, learning a sustainable trade that has reaped both figurative and literal harvests.”

According to Johns, this project had a compounding effect. With more than enough produce to feed their own families, women were able to make baked goods to sell in town. “Where we came into play at that stage was to instill in those women the value of saving the proceeds of their sales to cover future expenditures and to teach them about reinvesting profit so that their small enterprises could continue to grow.”

Sustainability is:

  • Working directly with local people to help them become self-sufficient
  • Teaching entrepreneurs valuable skills so they can operate their own businesses
  • Helping villagers obtain start-up loans so they can open their own shops

In a related vein, women have been sewing (on donated machines) face masks, drapery and bedding for sale locally. These seamsters have successfully leveraged social media to advertise and sell their wares. Sowing Seeds stepped in to help the women budget both their time (i.e., how many hours they can commit to working outside the family) as well as their finances in support of specific goals.

From a socio-economic perspective, one of the particularly intriguing facets of this enterprise is that rather than being paid for their individual output, the women work collaboratively to make products that are sold as a group. With many women working at different times in such a collective fashion, profit and pay are thereby allocated based on the total number of items sold and the days work by each woman each month. A portion of the proceeds also go back to the church where the sewing machines are located as rental for the equipment and the space. “This set-up teaches the women both responsibility and how to conduct a business,” remarked Johns.

Men, too, have benefitted from Sowing Seeds’ interventions. One farmer, Johns recounted, was able to move from survival-based agricultural work to growing, processing and selling cardamom pods, one of the world’s most lucrative spices. By helping the farmer obtain a loan for a commercial spice dryer and arranging for him to pay off that debt in kind with a portion of his monthly harvest, Sowing Seeds set him on the road to where he has now been able to expand his business into purchasing neighbors’ cardamom pods to dry and sell them as well.

Lessons in sustainability

“The couple that founded and lead Sowing Seeds takes sustainability to the next level,” remarked Johns. In addition to sending volunteers and material donations to Belize, they run a working farm and catering business in Pennsylvania as well as supplying Belizean products to area shops and restaurants, including turmeric, cardamom, oils (sesame seed, coconut and palm), cacao and coffee beans. These goods help people in Belize expand their business reach internationally and give U.S. business owners naturally sourced products.

dozens of white plastic pots containing seedlings
Starter seedlings for the community garden

But Johns points out that lessons in sustainability travel from south to north, as well: “We can learn a thing or two from the villagers’ simple ways of living.” These include drying clothes on a line in the fresh air instead of using a dryer, walking instead of always driving, reading by sunlight and choosing natural heating sources in place of gas or electricity.

With regard specifically to working with people in other parts of the world, such as Belize, Johns noted that it is important to keep in mind that “outside assistance is still external to a local culture. Obstacles to acceptance can, therefore, creep in.” As a way to help avoid such situations, Johns advocates for offering to help local people’s ideas come to fruition rather than imposing plans and agendas on them. In a similar sense, “direct handouts create dependence,” she observed. An example Johns points to is when relief organizations import tons of rice to feed villages struck by natural disasters. Such well-intentioned donations, however, negatively affect local farmers’ ability to sell their own produce because they are now in competition with free goods.

Sustainability is not:

  • Handing out clothes and food to the needy
  • Giving money directly to the poor
  • Showing up to hammer a few nails in a board

The lessons Johns has learned through her involvement with Sowing Seeds in Belize now infuse her own worldview, volunteering and teaching about sustainability. “In the end,” she said, “sustainability takes time, effort and continual review. It’s a long-term mindset geared to using resources efficiently and effectively.”

In fall 2020, TU’s Energy Management program introduced a new curriculum that includes topics such as climate change and alternative/renewable electricity sources. Learn more.


TU Law faculty member part of team awarded major NSF grant

The University of Tulsa College of Law’s Warigia Bowman is a widely published expert on public policy, infrastructure, water and energy. Bowman is, therefore, a natural fit for the team of 34 interdisciplinary researchers recently awarded a $20 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, administered by the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The focus of this five-year award is the development and testing of science-based solutions for complex problems at the intersection of land use, water availability and infrastructure in Oklahoma. Bowman is a sub-principal investigator and the only member from TU. She is also the College of Law’s first recipient of an NSF grant.

Professor Warigia Bowman seated at a library table with a book and a laptop computer
Professor Warigia Bowman

“On behalf of the entire TU Law community, I commend Warigia Bowman for contributing to this vital research endeavor,” said Dean Lyn Entzeroth. “She brings valuable expertise in both public policy and groundwater, as well as an understanding of the regulatory issues facing both water and renewable energy to the grant team.”

At the intersection of science and society

“Professor Bowman has academic expertise concerning the interface between science and society, and practical background in stakeholder participation and engagement,” remarked Hank Jenkins-Smith, a co-lead researcher on the grant and a public policy professor at the University of Oklahoma. “Both of these will be at the heart of the EPSCoR project. We are very pleased that she has agreed to be a part of our research team.”

“This project is novel in both its design and vision,” explained Bowman. “It creates a social science-led, multidisciplinary collaboration among social, physical, biological, engineering and computational scientists that aims to provide socially sustainable solutions to emerging problems caused, in part, by changing weather patterns, gaps in sustainable energy infrastructure and declining water supplies.”

Wide-ranging goals

Joining Bowman on this NSF-funded project are researchers from Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Langston University, East Central University and the Noble Research Institute. The group anticipates accomplishing several objectives:

  • Education and workplace development as well as the creation of a resilience model that can guide Oklahoma stakeholders
  • Broadening of participation in STEM by women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and first-generation college students
  • Enhanced STEM training for K-12 teachers as well as non-traditional STEM educators, including 4-H and Oklahoma museums
  • Enhancements in K-12 student STEM education, such as a Native American student STEM competition and teacher conference, and the creation of a Tinkerfest at the Science Museum of Oklahoma
  • Expansion of Oklahoma’s Citizen Science Network
  • Support for higher education faculty and students involved in STEM

Bowman’s participation on the grant will also contribute to her personal research agenda. In addition, it will support training of her graduate research assistants at TU Law on projects focusing on risks posed by declines in state groundwater storage. Bowman and her research assistants also plan to study threats and opportunities posed by renewable energy to Oklahoma communities.

Earning your JD at TU Law will bring you in contact with faculty members at the forefront of their fields, such as Warigia Bowman, who are both excellent teachers as well as scholars. Learn about this vibrant, welcoming community.

TU cuts energy consumption with new sustainability initiatives

Through a comprehensive plan to overhaul the campus energy infrastructure, technology resources and behavioral patterns, The University of Tulsa cut campuswide electricity use by over 2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2019.

“What’s been so impressive is how quickly we’ve made this transition,” said Kevan Buck, TU’s executive vice president and treasurer. “Jason Grunin, the assistant vice president of business and energy, has had an ambitious vision from the start, and our partners at Cenergistic have handled much of the day-to-day energy savings. Our infrastructure upgrades and new tech have played a large part in our energy transformation, but it’s the human touch that has driven savings.”

In recent years, the university has introduced many initiatives aimed at creating a more sustainable university. Targeted upgrades to lighting, sprinklers, transportation and utility meters have reduced energy consumption across campus, and the installation of solar panels introduced clean energy to facilities.

The most notable conservation effort, however, comes via a partnership with Cenergistic, a national sustainability company. TU personnel work closely with Cenergistic engineers, experts and an energy specialist to audit and optimize energy-using systems across the organization to achieve peak efficiency. The energy specialist tracks energy consumption at all campuses with leading state-of-the-art technology to identify waste and drive conservation.

“Savings of this magnitude in the span of only a year speak volumes about the university’s commitment to sustainability,” said Rob Sullivent, Cenergistic’s regional vice president of client operations. “As an alumnus, I am proud of the commitment TU is making to the future of our planet.”

“Our goal from the beginning has been to make TU one of the leaders in sustainability across the state, and we’re well on our way. As an added benefit, we’ve saved a lot of money in the process,” Buck said. “We look forward to what future savings these initiatives will bring.”

About Cenergistic

Since 1986 Cenergistic has partnered with 1450+ educational, municipal government and healthcare organizations to achieve $5.6 billion in utility savings and cost avoidance. These strong results come from the application of Cenergistic’s organizational behavior-based strategies and are enhanced by our proprietary software platform to drive building and equipment optimization. Our energy conservation program reduces utility consumption by an average of 25% with no capital investment while maintaining or improving the comfort and quality of building environments. For more than a decade, Cenergistic has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year or Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence. To learn more, visit

TU launches partnership with Cenergistic to implement new sustainability program

University of Tulsa President Gerard Clancy and the TU Board of Trustees have announced a partnership with the Dallas-based energy conservation firm Cenergistic to implement a new energy sustainability program that will increase technology, scaling capacity and organizational continuity among the university’s physical plant systems.

Cenergistic services will help TU redirect money from utility costs to improve classroom technology by managing energy and sustainability initiatives in TU Physical Plant. TU has a long history of engaging in sustainability projects including reducing water consumption among common campus areas, eliminating paper usage by moving to electronic records, installing solar panels, implementing recycling initiatives and adding educational content to its website about off-campus conservation strategies. TU also is home to a sustainability committee featuring faculty, staff and students who encourage campus engagement and conduct environmentally friendly research. Teaming up with Cenergistic reinforces TU’s priorities on further reducing energy usage, capturing additional cost savings and providing more resources for the Physical Plant staff.

“Our partnership with Cenergistic will help us close funding and personnel gaps, allowing us to spend our budget where it matters: providing students an exceptional education with the appropriate resources, said Jason Grunin, TU assistant vice president of business and energy. “Every dollar we save on energy helps us further the environment, experience and education of our students.”

new partnershipTwo energy specialists will be deployed to TU, equipped with Cenergistic’s Ceres cloud-based, machine learning software, which includes real-time alerts, to augment optimization of TU’s equipment and energy usage across all university buildings and facilities. Cenergistic also provides remote and onsite engineering and measurement and verification experts.

“Cenergistic is thrilled to partner with The University of Tulsa to implement our Energy Sustainability program. With our full-time onsite energy specialists equipped with the latest software working to ensure all facilities and systems are functioning at peak efficiency, coupled with an organizational behavior-based approach to energy conservation, we believe the university will see great success in both cost and energy savings,” said Dr. Randy Hoff, vice chairman of Cenergistic. “It is our mission that, with help from everyone in the organization, we will create a culture of sustainability that will progress into the future.”

Learn more about TU sustainability programs.

The Energy Sustainability Program will help TU qualify its buildings for ENERGY STAR® certification with the Environmental Protection Agency. University officials also look forward to strengthening the mindset of conservation and a culture of sustainability among staff and students prompted by the Cenergistic partnership.

About Cenergistic

For more than 30 years Cenergistic has helped over 1,400 K-12 districts, universities and government municipalities find more than $5B in hidden electricity, natural gas and water savings by applying sustainability as a service solution on their campuses. Superintendents, CFOs, COOs and board members can reduce energy and water spending by up to 25% annually with no capital investment, while improving the comfort and quality of classroom and building environments, helping students and employees achieve their full potential. For ten consecutive years, Cenergistic has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year. To learn more visit




TU named to Princeton Review “Guide to 399 Green Colleges”

The University of Tulsa is included in the Princeton Review 2018 edition of “Guide to 399 Green Colleges.” TU received a Green Rating score of 80 or higher in a Princeton Review survey from August 2018.

green collegesThe guide profiles colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability. TU was selected for the survey based on its academic offerings, campus policies, initiatives, activities and career preparation for students. TU also is included in the 2019 release of the Princeton Review College Guide “Best 384 Colleges” where it is named a “Best Regional College” in the western region.

Students are passionate about sustainability at TU and have inspired university leadership to enforce green policies and programs to reduce the school’s environmental footprint, including a limit on the number of pages students are allowed to print each semester. Recycle bins are readily available across campus, shuttles run on compressed natural gas and students who wish to use a healthy and green mode of transportation can rent for free one of TU’s 450 bicycles through its Yellow Bike Program. Majors tied to sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices are environmental policy, earth and environmental sciences and geology.

According to Princeton Review Editor-in-Chief Robert Franek, college applicants and their parents are increasingly interested in supporting sustainability efforts. The “Guide to Green Colleges” provides detailed “Green Facts” reports on a school’s use of renewable energy, recycling and conservation programs as well as the availability of environmental studies and career guidance for green jobs.

“Our sustainability committee is dedicated to improving existing sustainability projects campus wide while searching for new ways to conserve resources,” said Jason Grunin, assistant vice president of business and energy conservation.

TU named to national list of green universities

The University of Tulsa has been named one of the nation’s top 100 green universities by, an online marketplace that helps residential and commercial energy consumers shop for electricity and natural gas supply.

green universities
Students for Sustainability plant seeds for Monarch Way Stations.

The website’s compilation of universities includes exclusively those named top 100 institutions by U.S. News & World Report. Rankings are based on a number of eco-friendly factors such as each college’s Princeton Review Green Score, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy by State score and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Green Jobs State Report.

TU is listed No. 86 among national universities in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings and was selected by for prioritizing sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint through campus initiatives and community partnerships. One of the most recent projects TU introduced involves a partnership with Public Service Co. of Oklahoma. TU and PSO collaborated in 2016 to install solar panels on the roof of the Case Tennis Center, estimated to generate energy valued at more than 50 percent of the building’s annual usage.

Sustainability Committee plans spring events

The University of Tulsa Sustainability Committee is excited to promote campuswide engagement through annual recycling activities this spring. All students are encouraged to participate in the eight-week Recyclemania competition, beginning Feb. 6. See below for a list of upcoming events.sustainability

Feb. 8 – School-wide Waste Audit
We are going to gather data on what we, as a campus community, are wasting with special emphasis on plastics.

Feb. 13 – Plastics Awareness Forum, 6-8 p.m., Student Union Alcove
Enjoy food from Eloté and learn about the dangers of plastic! This plastics awareness event will educate our campus community about plastic, how it is harmful, how it is used on campus and what we can do about making ourselves healthier and our campus and more sustainable.

Feb. 23 – Green Team at the TU Men’s Basketball Game, 7 p.m., Reynolds Center
During the game, the TU Green Team will pick up recyclables and interact with fans about the importance of recycling.

March 1 – E-waste event, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., venue TBA
Recycle your batteries, cell phones, computers and any electronics that have outlasted their usefulness. TU is teaming up with the Tulsa Metropolitan Environmental Trust for this yearly event.

March 6-10 – Caught you Green-Handed!
The Sustainability Committee will surprise TU students, faculty and staff with prizes for recycling!

March 22 – “Before the Flood,” 6-8 p.m., Chapman Lecture Hall, food afterward at Blue House
Watch this documentary about waste and your carbon footprint, hosted by and starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

March 31 – Recycling pledge and membership drive, noon Student Union 
Join our growing student group!

April TBA
In April, the Sustainability Committee will host an Earth Day event on Harwell Field for hundreds of local elementary students. We also will plant a 150-square-foot Monarch Way Station in mid-April. Like us on Facebook for updates on all of our activities.

TU joins EPA in green power partnership

The University of Tulsa has been selected for an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership in recognition of its efforts to implement green power sources on campus. The EPA partnerships honor organizations dedicated to minimizing the risk of climate change.

green power

As a Green Power Partner, TU gains access to EPA tools and resources that aid in achieving green power goals and communicating leadership in sustainability. In September, TU and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma completed the installation of 936 solar panels on the roof of the Case Tennis Center. The 300-kilowatt system is estimated to generate the amount of energy equivalent to solar energy harvested by 75 residential structures. TU and PSO’s collaboration is key to the company’s new projects in solar power generation. By adopting renewable, zero-emissions electricity, TU and PSO are reducing the world’s carbon footprint while supporting cleaner energy alternatives and demonstrating best practice environmental management.

Faculty and students in TU’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences are conducting research on several projects related to the harvesting of solar energy and development of third generation solar cells.

University of Tulsa senior Kirk Smith named Rhodes Scholar

TU Senior names Rhodes Scholar
TU’s 2017 Rhodes Scholar Kirk Smith (left) and his mentor, Todd Otanicar, a TU mechanical engineering professor

Kirk P. Smith, a University of Tulsa mechanical engineering senior, has been awarded a 2017 Rhodes Scholarship – one of only 32 recipients in the nation. The honor was announced Sunday, following two days of interviews.

“This is a momentous occasion for The University of Tulsa, for our College of Engineering and Natural Sciences and for Kirk. He exemplifies the best of what TU seeks to inspire in each of its students: intellectual curiosity, integrity and service in a changing world,” said university President Gerard Clancy.

Rhodes finalists are selected for their outstanding scholarly achievements, character, commitment to others and potential career leadership. Rhodes Scholars receive two years of full financial support to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

A St. Louis, Mo., native, Smith is a captain of the Golden Hurricane cross country team, a TU Presidential Scholar, an inaugural member of TU’s Global Scholars program and a National Merit Scholar. At Oxford, he plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering science.

“Kirk’s ambition to engineer energy sustainability is already hitting stride. His research in Tulsa, Colorado and Germany is evidence of his creativity, collaborative skills and persistence,” said TU Provost Roger Blais. “Kirk’s research mentors testify to the depth and scope of his work in their labs as well as his readiness to take on graduate studies in any competitive setting in the states or overseas.”

As a scholarship recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), he was invited to participate in the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE Germany) program in the summer of 2016. He interned at Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt and assisted doctoral students with thesis research on polymeric solar thermal collectors.

“We are proud of Kirk’s accomplishments thus far and look forward to seeing what the future brings. His research holds great promise for the energy industry and long-term renewable energy efforts,” said James Sorem, dean of TU’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Smith is TU’s first Rhodes Scholar since 1988. University of Tulsa students and alumni have won more nationally competitive awards than all other Oklahoma colleges combined.

TU, PSO announce launch of solar power generation

The University of Tulsa’s Case Tennis Center is being powered by solar energy in partnership with Public Service Co. of Oklahoma. On Sept. 28, 2016, TU and PSO officials announced completion of the four-month project, one of the state’s largest rooftop solar installations.

The implementation of solar power supports TU’s ongoing efforts to promote a campus culture focused on increasing sustainability. PSO owns and maintains the 936 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels that are leased by TU. The 300-kilowatt system is estimated to generate the same amount of solar energy harvested by 75 residential structures.

In recent years, TU administrators gathered feedback from the university community to organize a Sustainability Committee and adopt more efficient practices such as expanding the use of LED lighting, installing occupancy sensors, optimizing climate controls in campus buildings, creating a single-stream recycling system, purchasing CNG-powered shuttles, reconfiguring golf carts to solar power and establishing TU’s free Yellow Bike program.

“These initiatives have helped reduce our carbon footprint and have opened the door for research opportunities for students and faculty here at the university,” said Susan Neal, TU vice president for public affairs, research and economic development.

TU has been named Oklahoma’s greenest college by The Princeton Review and earned a 2015 Henry Bellmon Sustainability Award for Quality of Life.

An energy source that is 100 percent renewable, clean and shared statewide, PSO officials said TU’s solar panel system is key to the company’s new involvement in solar power generation. PSO plans to add more than 200 megawatts of solar energy to its power grid by 2024 while TU continues to lead sustainability efforts among educational institutions in Oklahoma.

TU partners with PSO for solar project

The University of Tulsa will soon receive power from solar energy, thanks to a first-of-its-kind partnership with Public Service Company of Oklahoma.

Post-CaseTennis-SolarPanelInstallUnder the terms of an agreement signed earlier this spring, PSO will own and maintain a 300-kilowatt solar panel array, being installed on the roof of the Case Tennis Center. TU will lease the panels from PSO and use the electricity they generate to supply power to the Case Center.

“PSO is proud to work with an innovative and forward thinking partner like The University of Tulsa to bring this new, renewable technology online,” said Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer. “Solar power will be an increasingly important part of our energy mix in the future, and this project is an important first step in that transition.”

The 936 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels being installed should produce up to 400,000 kilowatt-hours of energy a year. It would take 70 typical residential rooftop solar installations to produce that much energy. To maximize energy production throughout the day, approximately half of the panels face east and the other half face west.

“The University of Tulsa was recently named the greenest college in the state, and we are eager to take our sustainability efforts to even greater heights. By utilizing solar energy, we have begun exploring another way to lessen our campus’ carbon footprint – a move that’s important to our TU family,” said Kevan Buck, TU’s executive vice president and treasurer.

Energy technologies and services provider Power Secure LLC has been contracted to coordinate engineering, procurement and construction work on the project. Construction of the framework and installation of the panels begins this summer and will generate electricity for TU by September.

Tulsa-based PSO, a unit of American Electric Power, is an electric utility company serving more than 544,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma.

TU competes in Recyclemania

TU is among more than 400 colleges participating in Recyclemania, a nationwide recycling competition that runs through April 2. In the past, TU has topped the list of Oklahoma schools with a national recycling ranking of 102. The university also is among the top 30 universities for waste minimization and corrugated cardboard recycling.

TU’s recycling efforts are some of the best in the American Athletic Conference, and the university hopes to generate a top 100 ranking this year.

University officials encourage all members of the campus community to recycle standard items including old catalogs, cardboard and other materials found in office areas. TU is dedicated to environmentally friendly practices that promote sustainability on campus and beyond.

Recycling Unwanted Mattresses

The University of Tulsa makes every effort to recycle unwanted items and in 2015 began a partnership with LRP Recycling.

LRP is a nationwide furniture and mattress recycling company. It works with colleges and universities to find a green solution to unwanted furniture and mattresses from campuses around the country and to keeps those items out of landfills.

TU has recycled 277 mattresses to date for a total of 15,235 pounds of recycled material.

LRP removes the mattresses and disposes of them. The material is unloaded and sorted and all recyclable parts of broken down. Wood, steel, fabrics and foam are separated so that they can be sent to other vendors to create new products. The typical recycling rate for all materials that LRP handles is 90 percent or higher.

For more information about recycling on campus, please visit

TU named Bicycle Friendly University

The University of Tulsa has been designated a Bicycle Friendly University at the bronze level by The League of American Bicyclists. TU is one of only three universities in the state to receive the recognition. There are 127 bicycle friendly universities in 42 states and Washington, D.C.

students enjoy cycling outside together on a beautiful spring day.In addition to TU’s yellow bike program that loans free bicycles to the university community and supports environmental conservation, TU has developed the TU Riders Network (TURN) program to promote cycling awareness and safety around campus and throughout the Tulsa community.

As a designated bicycle-friendly community, TU will have access to free tools and technical assistance from The League of American Bicyclists. The organization is committed to defining standards and sharing best practices to engage diverse communities and build a unified voice for promoting cycling nationwide.

For more information about TU’s yellow bike program or TURN, please visit

Cycling programs win Bellmon Sustainability Award

TU has received a Henry Bellmon Sustainability Award for its efforts to implement and expand two popular campus cycling initiatives, the Yellow Bike program and the TU Riders Network (TURN). University officials accepted the Quality of Life for All award at a gala on Sept. 17 in Tulsa.

The statewide annual awards are granted through a partnership with Sustainable Tulsa and the Tulsa Southside Rotary Club and Foundation. The organizations strive to raise awareness and reward individuals, organizations and companies dedicated to quality of life, responsible economic growth and environmental stewardship.

TU’s Sustainability Committee manages several programs across campus including recycling, energy management, paper initiatives, food drive collaborations and the Yellow Bike program. Since its establishment eight years ago, the Yellow Bike program has created a campus culture of healthier living and environmental conservation.

Nearly all of TU’s more than 500 bikes are checked out for free to students, faculty and staff for the duration of a semester or the entire school year. TU provides helmets, locks, bike racks and most recently bike service stations for minor repairs and adjustments. Also, the university’s Hurricane Bike Shop employs a small group of students who conduct routine repairs and maintenance.

Earlier this year, the TURN program was created to encourage cycling across campus and within the Tulsa community through mentoring initiatives and bike services. For more information about TU’s cycling initiatives, please visit

TU named state’s greenest college

The University of Tulsa may be “true blue,” but as Earth Day approaches, TU is being recognized for its environmentally friendly efforts by being added to The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition. TU is the only college in Oklahoma listed in the publication.

News-green-rankingThe guide profiles colleges with exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities. The online guide allows users to peruse detailed Green Facts on each school.

“Among nearly 10,000 teens who participated in our 2015 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Senior VP-Publisher. “We strongly recommend the schools in this guide to environmentally minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges.”

The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on Green Rating scores (from 60 to 99) tallied last summer for 861 colleges using data from its 2013-14 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment. Schools with Green Rating scores of 83 or higher made it into this guide. The University of Tulsa scored a 90. Information about Princeton Review’s Green Rating is at

Thanks for tuning in to TURN!

TURN, the TU Rider Network, is a new program designed to connect TU students, faculty and staff with the Tulsa community through cycling to promote a healthier, more environmentally friendly world.

TURN is the latest step in a series of cycling encouragement efforts at TU.  The flagship Yellow Bike Program was begun in Fall 2006 at the request of the Student Association after implementation of the tiered parking system increased the distance students had to walk to class.  The program was initially housed in the racquetball courts at Mabee Gym until the Bike Shop was opened in Fall 2008.

Future updates will contain information about TURN programs, profiles of cyclists at TU, efforts to promote cycling in the community, and tips and tricks to make cycling easier and safer.

TU awarded national recycling grant

Keep America Beautiful and the Coca-Cola Foundation offer TU new recycling opportunities

The University of Tulsa has been selected to receive a national recycling grant that will place 30 recycling bins around campus this summer.

The grant program was established nine years ago by Keep America Beautiful and the Coca-Cola Foundation to provide colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations and local governments nationwide with recycling bins that leverage volume buying discounts. Thirty-five percent of the earnings generated from recycling is allocated to students in collegiate residence halls.

“Through this program and our more than 50-year partnership with Keep America Beautiful, we are helping to ensure that communities understand the importance of recycling,” said Lori George Billingsley, vice president, community relations, Coca-Cola North America. “Community recycling not only impacts the environment today, but it helps build sustainable communities for the future.”

TU is among 28 traditional four-year colleges and universities chosen to participate in the grant program. Recipients were selected from a set of criteria including the extent of their need, recycling experience and their ability to sustain the program in the future.

Since 2007, the Coca-Cola/KAB Recycling Bin Grant Program has placed more than 35,000 recycling bins in more than 500 communities across the United States.