UNLV’s Sustainability Task Force is currently working with Brailsford & Dunlavey, a program management firm based in Washington, D.C., to create a campuswide climate action plan, nicknamed the Rebel CAP. The document will serve as an official guide for integrating sustainability practices into university operations to reduce our carbon emissions.
The Rebel CAP will be completed in 2024, making UNLV the first NSHE college or university to have an official climate action plan.
Sustainability is not a new concept on our campus. Rebels have been implementing sustainable practices on campus for more than 30 years. In celebration of our commitment to sustainable practices, here are five changes Rebels made toward sustainability.
The Rebel Recycling program was the brainchild of UNLV Sustainability coordinator Tara Pike, whose thesis as an undergraduate led to creating the recycling program that still serves the UNLV campus. The program was officially launched in July 1995. Since its inception, Rebel Recycling has grown in capacity and scope to provide all aspects of campus life with sustainable options such as recycling, document shredding, zero-waste events, and residence hall move-in assistance.
On average, university campuses throw away 30,000 water bottles per week. In an effort to reduce single-use water bottle waste, students bound together to create the Take Back the Tap initiative. After gaining widespread support from students, faculty, and staff, over a dozen hydration stations were installed on campus in 2012. Today, we have more than 100 hydration stations in 31 buildings across UNLV campuses diverting tons of plastic from landfills each year.
Xeriscape and Turf Replacement
Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. In the 1990s, students petitioned and protested for leadership to convert areas of campus to desert landscape. Turf replacement lessens our environmental impact by conserving water, creates space for beautiful native vegetation, and saves the university money in unnecessary watering costs.
Facilities Management has now replaced over 1 million square feet of grass with desert-acclimated vegetation or artificial turf and continues to research and test innovative ways of replacing grass turf.
Creating a sustainable future for Rebels includes making our buildings more sustainable. We currently have 15 buildings with 1.4 MW of generation capacity solar panels. The energy produced from these solar panels is equivalent to offsetting electricity use in 116 homes per year.
The campus is adding more LEED-certified buildings as we expand to accommodate a growing population. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Greenspun College of Urban Affairs (Gold Certified) and Hospitality Hall (Silver Certified) have received their certifications and the new Advanced Engineering Building will be LEED Silver equivalent when construction is completed in late 2023.
Cleaner Energy Transportation
Reducing the university’s carbon footprint takes innovation. Parking & Transportation and partners in Business Affairs have been working to create a more bike-friendly, walkable, and accessible campus. Bike lockers are now installed near campus housing to provide visitors with safe areas to store their bicycles.
UNLV does the majority of moving around campus using electric carts. More than 600 electric carts are assigned to departments for use by students, faculty, and staff.
For those who have ditched their fossil fuel-burning vehicles for EVs, there are 17 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in nine parking lots, with plans for more.
The UNLV community can also receive discounted RTC of Southern Nevada bus passes and incentives through the Club Ride for using alternative transportation such as carpooling.
For more information on campus’ overall transportation vision, check out the Campus Parking & Transportation Plan.