School for the Deaf in South Austin wins $130,000 prize to go green

School for the Deaf in South Austin wins $130,000 prize to go green

By Patrick Beach
December 11, 2011

Consider the faucet. You turn it on, wash your hands, turn it off, dry your

But if you’re deaf and you turn to dry your hands without shutting off the
water, it’s possible that you’ll miss the aural cue and leave the room with
the water blasting down the drain.

“It’s probably something we as hearing people don’t even consider,” said
Claire Bugen , superintendent of the Texas School for the Deaf in South

Consider the problem solved. Hands-free automatic faucets are coming to the
school, part of a $130,000 grand prize the school won in Global Green USA’s
Green School Makeover Competition , presented by the organization that
promotes sustainability and green jobs along with Pureology, which uses
natural materials in its hair-care products.

The award was announced last week . Texas School for the Deaf beat about 220
other schools for the top prize in a process that included written
applications, essays and on-site visits from contest representatives.

Half of the money will go for renovations and materials, the other half for
technical assistance. Improvements — set to begin next month and continue
through June 2012— will include retrofitting light fixtures for
energy-efficient bulbs, installing rain barrels and motion-sensitive lights,
switching to reusable water bottles and hands-free hand dryers, expanding
recycling and recycling education, and more.

The school got in the running for the contest at the urging of nearby
businessman Francisco Villa, owner of Francisco’s Salon, 1400 S. Congress

“I’m tickled to death,” Villa said. “I nominated them; they picked up the
ball and did the essays. When I got the email that they were a finalist, I
said, ‘You’re going to win!’ ”

When Villa opened his salon early last year, he did about 50 makeovers for
students and staff at the school, which is a block away from his shop. A
cousin of Villa’s attended the school in the 1970s, he said. So when he
heard about the contest, “I automatically thought of the school,” Villa

Bugen hopes this prize will seed other grants and possibly make the school a
environmentally conscious model campus, she said.

“We have not been as diligent about recycling as we should be on a campus
this size, especially on a campus where kids live 24 hours” a day, Bugen
said. “We’re committed to single stream, but this will help us bump it to
the next level by adding more bins and involving the students through their
science classes and being part of that expansion and their role in
supporting the environment.

“We’re also excited about rain barrels. The only thing the grant can’t do is
guarantee the rain,” she said. “This is a 67-acre campus that requires a lot
of watering to keep everything looking nice and the football field

And maybe when students head into the world, they’ll take the environmental
lessons they have learned with them.

“There’s somebody in charge of the Earth,” Villa said, “but we can do our
part while we’re here, right?”

[email protected]; 445-3603


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