Due its location in an arid region of the Southwest, UTEP sustainability has focused on water conservation for the past couple of years. Recently hired David Archuleta, Director of Water Initiatives at the University of Texas at El Paso, will be supervising several initiatives and projects aimed to conserve water and increase overall University Sustainability. Archuleta, who has worked in the past as a top-notch manager for two President's of the US and CEO of EL Paso Water Utilities for 24 years, will work around two main goals: increasing the visibility and amount of research in water resource management at UTEP, and creating a master's and doctoral degree program at the University in the very same field.
UTEP's goal is to convert approximately 150,000 square feet of existing lawns and traditionally landscaped garden areas to incorporate water conservation measures and Xeriscape designs. Water conservation is promoted through the use of plants selected for their water efficiency and resilience to the desert climate. A properly designed and maintained Xeriscape area can easily use less than one-half the water of a traditionally landscaped area and also requires less maintenance over time. During the initial phase of the project, UTEP partnered with El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) through a rebate program and received monetary returns for the Xeriscape program.
To date, UTEP has converted about 49,000 square feet of traditionally landscaped areas to various types of xeriscape design. These designs feature a selection of native plant materials and gravel/rock ground cover. In Spring 2009, the follow up phase converted about 22,000 square feet of turf area in front of Hudspeth, Worrell, and Miners Hall; areas adjacent to Fox Fine Arts and Cotton Memorial; and the area behind Bell and Benedict to a xeriscape design. Also, all new construction projects incorporate xeriscape design with drought-tolerant plants as a standard practice. This policy can be seen in the landscaping around the Academic Services Building, Sun Bowl Parking Garage, new Child Development Center, and Foster - Stevens Basketball Practice Facility.
Efforts have been made to upgrade the campus restrooms with waterless or low-flow fixtures. These devices effectively reduce water consumption while controlling the sewer smells. Selected areas around campus have been retrofitted while the effort continues to span the campus for the coming years. In addition, new construction and renovations will include these fixtures as a mandate in future designs.