Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.79
Liaison Courtney Stoner
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

American University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Courtney Stoner
Sustainability Analyst
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:

An Interactive Media design class had projects centered around encouragement of sustainable behaviors on AU's campus. Examples of past projects can be found at https://vimeo.com/showcase/5083632. These projects helped students understand how to advance sustainability by engaging members of campus through applications and digital formats.

To better promote sustainable behaviors on campus and identify areas of concern, one student created the "Eagle Cause" app as a course project. The app is designed to solve how to address promotion of sustainable behavior on campus and find areas of most need. The app is set up as a "game" to encourage sustainable behaviors by students at AU.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:

Many students complete for-credit internships while at AU. There are many NGO and non-profit organizations focused on the local environment and sustainability in DC and a number of students who are able to gain real-life experience at environmental or sustainability focused NGOs for course credit. Students completing for-credit internships are required to correspond with their faculty adviser weekly with updates (usually through Blackboard) on what they are working on and what they are learning throughout the course of their internship. Students learn how to apply knowledge from the classroom and advance sustainability with the public through these internships.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

A pollution-focused class invites the Office of Sustainability to discuss how campus projects, such as bio-diesel buses and energy efficiency projects have decreased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This furthers student's understanding on how the university has an effect on the local air quality and GHG emissions, and strategies used to mitigate these effects.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:

ENVS-260, Introduction to Environmental Science II, uses the campus as a Living Laboratory both in the lecture and the laboratory portions of the class. We work with the Director of Sustainability and Arboretum Manager to use AU's campus as a model for building a sustainable city, which is the final in-class (lecture portion) project of the course, where students present their final designs to people they have worked with on campus as well.

The Sustainable Design/LEED Training course uses examples of the LEED building design features on campus.

The Office of Sustainability gives many tours to various classes, pointing out sustainable design features in buildings such as energy efficiency, renewables, and the human health components of green building.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:

Studies in Global Environmental Politics: Sustainable Design/LEED Training worked with Facilities Energy Management to explore sustainable building design and utility consumption. Through energy data analysis in Lucid and Facilities Management-hosted tours of AU's mechanical rooms and systems, students developed their understanding of the challenges and potential solutions to managing energy efficiency on campus.

https://www.american.edu/finance/news/energy-and-engineering-show-leed-students-katzen-energy-efficiency.cfm


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:

In the Complex Problems Course: Pollution Solutions, students identified and investigated specific areas of pollution alongside AU representatives to develop realistic solutions. Some of the topics involved food sustainability and how to deal with campus food waste.

The Learning by Leading Initiative, in partnership with Smithsonian Gardens and the University Arboretum, aims to have students tackle real world problem such as climate change, environmental literacy, horticulture, and food security. A sociology class and a communications class had involvement with this program, specifically in the Edible Campus component, which planted a number of seasonal herbs and vegetables in planters on main campus, just off the quad. Using techniques from their respective course disciplines, students came up with a strategy to promote and communicate the program.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:

Arboretum: Professors in different disciplines, including biology, literature, computer science, and health education, use the campus arboretum for learning in a variety of ways. Arboretum staff take classes on tours of campus and show sustainable aspects of the Arboretum, such as storm water features. The many storm water features on campus (rain gardens, bioretention basins) contribute to students' understanding of how they can be implemented and the benefits of doing so.

The Learning by Leading initiative, in partnership with Smithsonian Gardens and the University Arboretum, aims to have students tackle real world problem such as climate change, environmental literacy, horticulture, and food security. A sociology class and a communications class had involvement with this program, specifically in the Edible Campus component, which planted a number of seasonal herbs and vegetables in planters on main campus, just off the quad.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
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IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:

The environmental studies/science capstone worked on behavior change projects and learned about encouraging the campus community to use alternative forms of transportation, such as biking or taking public transit instead of driving. The class reviewed the availability of campus programs and suggested adjustments.

By studying the transportation of a large, urban institution, students learned about what kinds of transportation programs AU offers for the entire campus community, and how AU could improve overall on increasing the amount of people who utilize more sustainable transportation options overall.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:

Complex Problems Course, Pollution Solutions- students investigated specific areas of pollution they were interested in and worked with AU representatives to research these topics, and to develop realistic solutions. Some of the topics involved food zero waste and composting.

The Office of Sustainability is often invited to environmental science classes to perform waste audits and demonstrate waste sorting best practices. Different kinds of waste (compost, recycling, and trash) are brought to classes and students learn how to properly sort waste. Through the waste audit, students also learn about contamination of compost and recycling, and which kinds of objects are the most likely to be sorted improperly. After completing the lesson, students are better equipped with knowledge on how to properly sort their waste on campus and share the information with their peers.

The Office of Sustainability has presented to ENVS150: Waste Lab course about how to sort waste, how waste is related to GHG emissions, and about where waste goes after throwing it into bins. The class also did a follow up survey/study on campus to observe behaviors around waste sorting.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:

Studies in Global Environmental Politics: Sustainable Design/LEED Training worked with Facilities Energy Management. The class utilized water data in Lucid to get a better understanding of utilities usage in sustainable building design.

Graduate students measured water flows from historical fixtures, for LEED certification efforts; also use campus for stormwater analysis.

Environmental Studies courses looked at reduced use with low flow fixtures, toilets, and rainwater collection in the SIS building.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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