Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.66
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 23, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Auburn University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Nanette Chadwick
Director, Academic Sustainability Programs
Biological Sciences
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

During Fall 2018, students in CPLN 5020 Cities, Planning and Climate Change seminar class completed graded course projects that involved assisting in updating Auburn University’s 2010 Climate Action Plan (CAP), which was due for an update. They interacted with the Auburn University Office of Sustainability during this process. As part of the project, they worked in teams to conduct a peer-institution study and brainstormed ideas for the plan update. They presented their projects as 5 teams of students in the course, at the end of the semester, to interested faculty and staff members from the Office of Sustainability.

Positive Outcome: The Office of Sustainability will utilize the results of these student projects, as the Office completes development of CAP 2.0 at the end of 2018.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

Building Tours:
Auburn has several LEED-certified buildings, and these are used as educational tools in formal student exercises in classes on campus. Students take faculty-led in-class tours of these buildings each semester, to expose them to examples of green building practices.

Gorie Center for Building Science Tours:
http://cadc.auburn.edu/construction/construction-facilities
The LEED features in this building, including waterless urinals, shower and changing facilities for bicyclists, and many natural lighting and energy-saving features, are used for organized class tours in various programs on campus, including Biosystems Engineering, Sustainability Studies, and Architecture.
Positive outcomes: Students from a wide variety of classes learn about the first LEED building on Auburn's campus, and see first-hand examples of sustainable building design, as part of their coursework.

Recreation and Wellness Center Tours:
The new, student-funded Recreation and Wellness Center has many LEED features, such as a courtyard landscaped with native plant communities, 2 green roof areas, and natural lighting features and materials throughout.
Website: http://www.campusrec.auburn.edu/facilities
The Recreation and Wellness Center is used for organized class tours in SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability, and in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World. Students participate in a group guided tour of the center during their class meeting time, view the various LEED features, and then integrate these observations with related class lectures and discussions about sustainable building practices.
Positive outcomes: Student use of campus facilities to gain information from their immediate environment on how to design buildings for sustainability.

Office of Information Technology (OIT) LEED Building Tours:
Staff in this building give organized tours on demand, of the building features, to show off various aspects including innovative cooling and heat-use in the mainframe computer server rooms. These rooms vent their generated heat to the outdoors during summer to reduce AC costs, then keep the heat in during winter to heat the building. The website link describes some of these features, for which OIT won a Spirit of Sustainability Award in 2015.
Website: http://wp.auburn.edu/sustainability/oit-building-project/
Positive outcomes: Increased public awareness of building energy saving methods through outreach tours, as well as miscellaneous tours given to students and staff on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

Energy Tours:
On-campus systems for energy production and use are visited during organized class tours in SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability, and in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World. Students participate in a group guided tour of a power substation, where cooling and heating systems are demonstrated that pump water for temperature control in campus buildings. An engineer from the Facilities department on campus describes the opportunities and challenges involved in increasing energy efficiency, using water vs. steam-based systems for heating and cooling, and in purchasing electricity from Alabama Power.
Positive outcomes: Students learn about energy issues through understanding the advances and setbacks, as well as the complexities involved in working toward energy efficiency on campus. They see first-hand how buildings are heated and cooled on campus, and where the energy comes from to power that process.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

Food Tours:
On-campus systems for sustainability in food production (Horticulture), food consumption (Tiger Dining) and food waste (Campus Kitchens) are visited during organized class tours in SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability, and in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World. Students participate in a group guided tour of these 3 aspects of the campus food system, during a class meeting time. They visit the Old Rotation on campus, which is the oldest continuous cotton experiment in the world, begun in 1896.
Website: http://www.ag.auburn.edu/agrn/cotton.htm
They view the effects of using sustainable methods of rotating legumes, cotton, and corn in demonstration plots. They then walk over to the adjacent horticultural fields and orchards, where they identify, sample and taste local and seasonal crops. They end up at one of the campus Tiger Dining facilities, where the head chef of Campus Dining demonstrates various sustainability initiatives such as recycled and re-use food containers, food-waste-reducing practices, use of local and on-campus foods in the dining system, etc. They end up learning about the Campus Kitchens project which funnels leftover campus foods each week to the local Food Bank.
Tiger Dining sustainability website: http://www.dineoncampus.com/auburn/show.cfm?cmd=sustainability
Positive outcomes: Students learn first-hand about food systems on campus, view and taste examples of foods grown on campus, and view examples of Tiger Dining sustainability efforts.

Campus Kitchens project:
This is an outreach project of the university, and is run by student volunteers. Each week, students package food waste leftover from the campus dining programs, and deliver it to local organizations who serve the hungry in our community. This project uses the food waste generated on campus, as a living laboratory to teach students about how to reduce waste, how to use leftover food items, and how to engage with social justice issues around hunger and food insecurity, in the surrounding community. This program has won several awards.
Website: http://www.auburn.edu/outreach/campuskitchen/

Positive outcomes: The Campus Kitchens project allows student volunteers to transform food waste from the campus dining system, into nutritious packaged meals that enrich the lives of city residents who are food-insecure, and provides the students with hands-on learning about how to reduce food waste in our system, as well as how to engage with the surrounding community.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

Transportation tour:
On-campus systems for sustainable transportation are visited during organized class tours in SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability, and in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World. Students participate in a group guided tour of a solar panel pilot project on top of a campus parking garage, which is linked to electric vehicle charging stations inside the garage. This project has won awards:
Website: http://wireeagle.auburn.edu/news/4423
They also tour stations of the Tiger Transit bus system on campus:
website: http://www.auburn.edu/administration/parking_transit/transit/index.php
As well as view and discuss the bicycle pathways, racks system, and other features of the bike transport system:
website: http://auburn.edu/administration/parking/bicycle_info.php
and finally, they visit the experimental solar cars project in the Engineering Department, which has also won award competitions:
website: http://wp.auburn.edu/soa/

Walkability Tour:
This tour leads students through campus to adjacent downtown Auburn, and shows them features related to pedestrian transportation, such as sidewalk features, design of street crossings, traffic calming features, relation to on-street buildings and business access, nearby residential street features for walkability, intersection issues, as well as linked on-campus features for pedestrian use such as pedestrian-only concourses. Students see examples of best practices for walkability, as well as areas and features with low walkability in which the city and campus infrastructure have been built mainly to support automobile-only transportation.

Positive outcomes: Students view first-hand examples of alternative transportation systems such as electric vehicles, solar-powered experimental cars, public transit, and bicycle and pedestrian systems, all as alternatives to automobile use. They use campus and adjacent city features to understand the complexity of the transportation system and the possible options for more sustainable transportation.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

Waste Tour:
On-campus systems for waste reduction and recycling are visited, mostly in and around the Student Center, during organized class tours in SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability, and in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World. Students participate in a group guided tour led by a staff person from the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department. They "follow the waste stream", by visiting solar-power waste compression receptacles outside the Student Center, recycling sorting bins inside the center, behind-the-scenes recycling activities of the dining system inside the center, and then exit the building to see how cardboard, cooking oil, and other materials are sorted and packaged for transport. They then walk across campus to the Recycling Center to see where the separated materials are prepared for transport to off-campus recycling facilities.
waste reduction and recycling website:
http://www.auburn.edu/administration/facilities/organization/operations/building-services/recycling/

Positive outcomes: Students gain a first-hand understanding of the challenges of materials sorting and collection in the waste stream, they witness efforts "back of the house" in the dining system to recycle and reuse materials and packaging for food items, and they experience the Recycling Center office and the sheer volume and personnel issues with managing a major waste reduction operation in the large institution that is their campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

Water tours:
On-campus water systems related are visited during organized class tours in SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability, and in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World. Students participate in a group guided Stormwater Tour at the Campus Arboretum, led by arboretum staff. They visit rain barrels, pervious concrete pathways, rain gardens, restored stream areas, floodplain areas, a bog garden, and other stormwater management features in the arboretum. Then they proceed downstream to see bioswales where rainwater collects near the LEED Gorie Center, a cistern and rain garden at the Architecture Building, and then follow the stream bed of the undergrounded Parkerson Mill Creek that runs through campus. Students listen to the stream through drain pipes and manhole covers, following it until it daylights at a restored stream area adjacent to the Sports Coliseum. They also visit degraded and restored stream branches behind the Forestry Building, to compare how they appear and function.
Arboretum stormwater website: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/cosam/arboretum/pdf/stormwater_brochure.pdf

Positive outcomes: Students gain direct observational experience with best management practices for stormwater control, as well as unsustainable practices related to the water system on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Each academic year, the Office of Sustainability recruits and supervises approximately six student interns. These students assist with daily office operations, special programs, student outreach, research, grant writing, communications, and policy development. The student interns also receive an expense-paid trip to the annual, national-level AASHE conference with Office staff.

Positive Outcomes: The assistance provided by the student interns helps the Office of Sustainability meet its mission. The work produced by the interns greatly augments the efforts of the 3-person Office of Sustainability. Their efforts have enabled the creation and execution of a number of programs, as well as providing a direct connection to the perspective and needs of the student body. The student interns, in turn, receive valuable hands-on experience with addressing issues of sustainability planning and coordination on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

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

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

The campus’s TigerFit health and fitness assessment program provides students with hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art fitness clinic, as well as participation in outreach efforts by the School of Kinesiology. The program offers quality health and fitness screenings at an affordable price to the Auburn University community, while giving students valuable hands-on experience in applied exercise technology, exercise physiology, and adult fitness programming. TigerFit offers appointments to students, faculty, OLLI members (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), alumni, and the general public during academic semesters.

Positive Outcome: The work of students in the Tiger Fit program provides direct benefit to the Tiger Fit assessment participants. Each person who participates receives a thorough fitness assessment, and receives a comprehensive report covering cardiovascular disease risk, aerobic fitness, body composition, muscular fitness, balance, and flexibility. This work not only helps clients, but in coordination with local health professionals can help improve prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, hypertension, and other metabolic diseases. The participating students gain experience with all of these issues related to health and well-being, as they apply to the campus community.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

Several of the above campus sustainability tours are also offered to the public during No Impact Week each spring, and so serve as an outreach activity to educate the general public. University staff and faculty also sign up for these tours, and faculty gain ideas on how to incorporate Campus-As-a-Lab activities into their various courses.

See the website for No Impact Week: https://cla.auburn.edu/events/calendar/no-impact-week1/


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.