School of Architecture Promotes Sustainable Design in Core Curriculum with Meadows Foundation Grant

Faculty in the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin will soon have the opportunity to incorporate principles of sustainable design into core curriculum due to a $240,000 grant from the Meadows Foundation.

The three-year grant will be disbursed via a competitive process in which faculty can submit proposals to compete for four $20,000 awards each fall, beginning in fall 2008. Faculty will be asked to submit proposals outlining their strategy to incorporate more explicit attention to energy use and other aspects of environmental sustainability into their coursework.

"UT Austin consistently ranks as one of the top 10 schools of architecture in the United States," said Elizabeth Mueller, director of the Center for Sustainable Development. "Our students are actively recruited by some of the best design and planning firms in the nation and this grant will allow them to be even more competitive in entering the workforce upon graduation."

Faculty from all areas of the school, including architecture, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, interior design, urban design, sustainable design and historic preservation, can compete for the grants.

Proposals from the various fields of study will likely emphasize diverse areas of sustainability, including the relationship between design and energy efficiency, materials and resource use, site design, land use and transportation planning, and landscape ecology.

The school has historically been a leader in the field, establishing one of the first graduate programs in sustainable design (originally called "design with climate") in 1973.

"More than ever before, leading firms are looking to recent graduates to help them provide the environmentally sensitive designs increasingly in demand," said Mueller. "Since LEED certification is an increasingly valued credential for designers, being able to incorporate these cutting edge concepts and tools into core classes for our students is a tremendous asset."

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, created by the U.S. Green Building Council, encourages sustainable design. Practitioners can receive LEED certification by demonstrating a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and LEED buildings receive a plaque recognizing them as an environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy place to live and work.

The Meadows Foundation, one of the most recognized philanthropic institutions in the country, was established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia Meadows to benefit the people of Texas. The foundation's mission is to assist the people and institutions of Texas to improve the quality and circumstances of life for themselves and future generations.