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En vironmental conscience earn Green Awards

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

The UTEP Green Awards were established during the 2010 Earth Week and since then, they have been used to promote green initiatives.

“The UTEP Green Awards focus on the UTEP community,” said Julian Valdes, marketing coordinator for the Office of Special Events. “They are the recognition of a faculty, staff, student, department or organization that is doing something green to help out the environment.”

From recycling to plumbing upgrades that have waterless or low fixtures, UTEP officials said the university is striving to become a university that is not only efficient, but sustainable in enforcing energy-saving solutions into the campus’ future plans.

“The UTEP Green Awards acknowledge the people that are taking the steps to better the world,” Valdes said. “As a campus, we are trying to go green in our buildings and energy consumption. We must also focus on the small tasks that we take.”

Students may not always be near a recycling bin or may take one too many napkins at lunch, but part of saving the environment starts with the simplest of tasks. From turning off the television at a certain time or sending presentations electronically instead of printing can make a big difference.

“I could be a better environmentalist, but I make sure to recycle everything,” said Maegan Ramirez, senior political science major. “I care about water conservation, especially. It bugs me when people brush their teeth and they leave the water on. It doesn’t need to be on.”

However small the tasks may be, changing the way in which they are completed cannot only benefit the environment, but can also make one’s wallet a little greener.

“I became an environmentalist because I felt that we take things for granted on this planet at the expense of the survival of animals and plants,” said Mariel Maese, mechanical engineering graduate student. “I recycle, minimize waste, purchase environmentally friendly products and car pool to school.”

The awards ceremony will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19 during the Earth Day celebration at the Geology Lawn.

“We are looking for someone who is taking care of the environment,” Valdes said. “We want to acknowledge those using innovative methods in their workplace and daily life to better the environment – people who are saving energy and paper are saving the Earth in the end.”

In recognizing these individuals, the UTEP Green Awards will allow Miners to see the changes being made around campus. Maese hopes this will encourage students, who may be unaware of these eco-friendly additions to the campus, to join the movement towards being green.

“These awards will help spread the word about being environmentally friendly,” Maese said. “Some people don’t like to make a difference because they feel like it is just them and they can’t do anything about it. Individually, we can make a difference and these awards will motivate people to change.”

As well as establishing a recycling program on campus, UTEP has begun to design the placement of solar panels on the parking garage located on Sun Bowl Drive, thermal-photovoltaic panels at the Swimming and Fitness Center and wind turbines to be placed at the new Chemistry and Computer Science Building. The Green Roof, located on top of the Biology Science Building, was also constructed to lower carbon emissions.

“I am a supporter of the cause. I do try to conserve energy when I leave my office, home, etcetera,” Valdes said. “It is important to be aware since we are all living on the planet together. We must start locally in our daily lives in order to affect the entire world.”

More information about UTEP’s movement towards becoming a green university may be found at

Lorain Watters may be reached at

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