Sustainability Coordinator promotes campuswide green initiatives

By Ali V. Adams

As a child, Tiana Lightfoot Svendsen was inspired to become an environmentalist by the animated adventures of “Captain Planet and the Planeteers.” Now, she’s applying the lessons she learned from the TV show as UT Southwestern Medical Center’s first Sustainability Coordinator.

Tiana Lightfoot Svendsen works to encourage green initiatives as UT Southwestern’s first Sustainability Coordinator.
Tiana Lightfoot Svendsen works to encourage green initiatives as UT Southwestern’s first Sustainability Coordinator. (David Gresham Photo)

Ms. Svendsen praised the steps UTSW already has taken to minimize its environmental footprint.

“There is much to be proud of, especially at the departmental level, at UT Southwestern,” Ms. Svendsen said. “The University installed new, energy-efficient chillers; the Surplus Warehouse Team collects unwanted office furniture for reuse and safely destroys information in computers for recycling; Environmental Health and Safety properly disposes of hazardous materials; University Hospitals offer cafeteria discounts for customers who dine on ceramic plates and reusable clamshells; and St. Paul University Hospital implemented a battery and toner recycling program that has spread to the rest of campus. Now, we have to keep the momentum going.”

Her first priorities include:

  • Providing campuswide recycling of batteries, ink cartridges, toner, and cellphones. Electronics recycling bins can be found in the Eugene McDermott Plaza on South Campus; the T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building and the Paul M. Bass Administrative and Clinical Center on North Campus; and the Professional Office Buildings/St. Paul University Hospital on West Campus. Drop-off stations are available at the Zale Lipshy Facilities Office and the UTSW Service Building at 4600 Harry Hines Blvd. (X Building). 
  • Expanding reuse and recycling initiatives. Cardboard boxes and all plastics No. 1-7 now can be recycled.
  • Providing reusable and compostable alternatives to Styrofoam containers in UTSW cafeteria areas. 
  • Expanding reusable-energy projects, such as the solar panel installation on the North Campus. 
  • Partnering with Better World Books to collect used books for resale, recycling, or donation to literacy programs. 
  • Revitalizing the Green Champion program, which enlists staff volunteers to promote eco-friendly best practices within their departments.

“It takes every person making small, but consistent efforts to make a big difference,” Ms. Svendsen said. “Commit to one eco-action, and then when it becomes natural, add another. The Earth will still be here, even if we are not, so make sustainable choices – if not for planetary reasons, then for selfish ones.”

To become a UTSW Green Champion, email Click on “Going Green” under “About Us” at to learn more about UTSW sustainability efforts.