Environmental Programs Steering Committee

May 13, 1999

102 Baker Institute 9:15-11am


  • Joyce Almaguer
  • Paul Harcombe
  • Priscilla Huston (staff)
  • Bill Leeman
  • Donald Ostdiek

Guests/Presenters from UNIV 303

  • Karrie Johnson
  • Nancy Kwon
  • Cameron Naficy
  • Cassey Roberts

Not Present:

  • Kathy Ensor
  • Arthur Few
  • Walter Isle (chair)
  • Gordon Wittenberg
  • Mark Wiesner


1. Final Report Presentation by students from UNIV 303 -- The Impact of CO2: Science, Society, and Policy

The students pointed out that although they had not been able to focus as much as they would have liked on solutions, they do feel that the work they have done is enough to convince them that since the Kyoto agreement has not yet been satisfied, Rice University is in a potential leadership position regarding CO2 impacts. Recognizing that Rice is producing an estimated 20 tons of CO2 per year, the students focused their study on three major components with respect to Rice: Energy, Transportation, and Construction. In addition to their presentation, they provided a full report for all attendees and are working on an online version of their presentation and report. Although a few notes are provided below, the full report provides a far more complete understanding.

Energy: This is by far the largest creator of CO2 at Rice, producing an estimated 15,700 tons per year for heating and air conditioning. Rice has already started a leadership approach in this area with co-generation, actually reducing the emissions between 1990 and 1998. However, several patterns were noted that could be considered for future reductions. One observation is that the science buildings are required by the national regulations to have one pass air systems and these buildings produce far more CO2 than other buildings. Also, the campus uses co-generation when the costs are lower than purchasing electricity and there may be ways of considering more use of co-generation.

Transportation: The study focused on the campus bus system and supported a planned study with two electric vehicles. They pointed out that the fact that air-conditioning is required on buses in Houston adds to the problem. Also personal transportation for faculty, staff and students to/from campus generates a lot of CO2. They suggested working with others in the Houston community, including the South main Street Association.

Construction: Given the intense construction cycle that Rice is currently beginning, there may be a lot of opportunity in this area for research and study regarding CO2 emissions during and following construction. The students focused a lot of their work on alternatives to brick and concrete. They recommended that attention to energy and transportation be taken into consideration as well before construction is undertaken.


They plan to present their report to the President and perhaps others involved in the focus areas.

They would like to see more research in this area as well as a leadership role by Rice.

They liked the course but thought it was very hard and time consuming. They wished it had been a larger course both in order to share the work but also to create a larger informed audience at Rice.

The course did include 80-90% group work but also a 10-20% advocacy component.

The possibility of considering a 4th lab hour was discussed.

They felt the title of the course should be changed to encourage more student enrollment -- perhaps something such as "Environmental Problem Solving" would be more compelling.

2 . Next Meeting date

Walter Isle was unable to attend this meeting and with the summer about to begin, the next meeting has not been set. Priscilla Huston will request summer schedules from all committee members. New members will be Matt Fraser, Dale Sawyer, and Gerald McKenny. Plus a graduate and an undergraduate to be named.