Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.20
Liaison Denice Koljonen
Submission Date Feb. 17, 2022

STARS v2.2

Boston College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Tara Pisani
Assistant Professor
Earth and Envronment
"---" 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:

The ENVS4941-43 Environmental Seminars for seniors matches student research teams to mentors on campus to investigate a real environmental problem that the mentor's organization is dealing with. Students present their findings at a poster symposium and in a paper, both of which are published on the Environmental Studies website. These student projects, which started in 2013, have involved Facilities, Grounds, Dining, Transportation, and Libraries and are highlighted below in the various sectors of campus.

Boston College Dining Services is a hub for student engagement in sustainability. Dining runs a sustainability internship program, where students work on projects related to the New England Food Vision that "calls for our region to build the capacity to produce at least 50% of our food by 2060." Interns do research on the sustainability practices of regional suppliers that meet BC's FRESH label (Fair, Equitable, environmentally Sustainable, and Healthy), manage the weekly farmers market, organize events like "trash dinners" to reduce food waste, and coordinate with the student club BC Real Food on their events and residence hall composting program.

Dining Services also works with faculty and students across the school on course projects and research related to sustainable food consumption, recycling and composting behavior, and reducing food waste on campus.

BC Real Food provides opportunities for campus engagement in activities in the campus community garden. Faculty use the garden to teach classes on food, sustainability, and social justice.

The Office of Sustainability uses competitive campus games to educate on sustainability, increase recycling, reduce energy use and associated carbon emissions, reduce water consumption, and promote a culture of sustainability. The campus engagement projects include Recyclemania, the NRG games, and SaveOhno.


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:

Boston College uses its infrastructure to engage the public in sustainability through a number of pathways:

(1) BC's core complex problems courses encourage faculty to develop experiential projects both on the campus and within the community. For example HIST/SOCY 1504: Understanding Race, Gender and Violence has laboratory activities that partner students with St. Stephens to work on issues related to violence prevention and safe communities.

(2) BC's PULSE program (associated with Theology and Philosophy core curriculum) educates students about social injustice through 12 hours of weekly service learning. PULSE students are put into direct contact with marginalized populations and matched with social change organizations. The PULSE Program has offered 3.2 million hours of service to the greater Boston community throughout its 50 year history. Boston College works with over 50 community partners and three in particular address sustainability: CREW (Climate Resilience for Extreme Weather), Haley House Community Garden and Soup Kitchen, and the Boston Green Academy.

(3) Joseph E. Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action works with communities on the redevelopment concept: a strong balance of natural green space and appropriate in design to create natural connections with the surrounding community. The Corcoran Center offers the course, "Urban Action Lab"that challenges students to take on real challenges within the greater Boston community. Partnering with community-based organizations and government, this experiential learning course guides students as they act as consultants, solving real-world problems through research, analysis, and collaboration. For more details see: https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/carroll-school/sites/corcoran-center/urban-action-lab.html

(4) ENVS4941-42 Senior Research Seminar is research based seminar/capstone course for seniors in the Environmental Studies major. Students work in teams and with a community partner on sustainability. The 2019-2020 projects include: "An Exploratory Case Study of Woolson Street Community Garden" by Caroline Donahue and Charles Goodfriend and "New England Aquarium Volunteers - Influencing Factors of Emerging Environmental Stewards" by Willa Disbrow, Thomas Gabel, and Tiffany Oluoch, and "Climate Change Communication and Perceptions in East Boston" by Casey Maslan, McKenzie Stevens, Manuella Villa Gomez, Kate Meyer, Daniela Pasturczak.


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:

During the Spring 2018 semester students in ENVS4943 Environmental Seminar assessed air pollution sources from the BC campus. This project is intended to help report data for STARS, but also to go a step beyond and map out sources, look into ways to reduce emissions, and to compare BC's emissions with other schools to understand how we are doing in comparison to other schools.

The final paper, "Boston College CO2 Levels and Air Pollution at Major Boston Universities" By Christina Karl and Daniel Creighton (2018) is published here https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/bc1/schools/mcas/envstudies/PDFs/student-research/air-pollution/Boston_College_CO2_Levels_and_Air_Pollution_at_Major_Boston_Universities_PAPER.pdf


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:

Projects that have dealt with building sustainability tend to focus on energy consumption. In particular understanding the energy use by building inhabitants as well as typical appliances or features (elevators) found in buildings. Here we include a sampling of some of the past projects, along with their papers, that have focused on the sustainability of buildings:

A Proposal to Build a Green Roof on the New Margot Connell Recreation Complex by John McKeon, Isabelle Nolan, and Olivia Pendergast (2019) <https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/bc1/schools/mcas/envstudies/PDFs/student-research/biodiversity-ecosystems/A%20Proposal%20to%20Build%20a%20Green%20Roof%20on%20the%20New%20Margot%20Connell%20Recreation%20Complex_2019_Paper.pdf>

Reducing Energy Consumption in Boston College Residence Halls By Kayla Lightbown, Gabriel McLarnan, & Haley Shewfelt (2018) <https://drive.google.com/file/d/19O5fNO__yJgZBOopKDqqErbvn4kOcCBW/view>

Building a Green Recreation Complex: Sustainable Considerations for the Future of Boston College Campus Recreation <https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/bc1/schools/mcas/envstudies/PDFs/Student%20Research%202016/Building_a_Green_Recreation_Complex_PAPER.pdf>


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:

Environmental seminar projects aimed at looking at energy use and efficiency have been conducted in cooperation with Facilities, The Office of Sustainability, and BC Libraries.

Here we include a sampling of some of the past projects, along with their papers, that have focused on energy. https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/mcas/sites/envstudies/research-projects/energy-use-efficiency.html

Exploring Classroom Temperatures: An Analysis of Student Preferences and Energy Usage By Daniel Cizmarik, Emmy Tolsdorf, Kasen Tone (2020)

Solar Energy and Boston College: A Case Study on the Renewable Applicability at Boston College By Abby Host, Aidan Kilpatrick, & Carlos Tramonte (2021)

Energy Impacts of Self Generating Electrical Cardiovascular Equipment on the Quonset Hut at Boston College By Benjamin Ruffing, Erin Walsh, and Zachary Contini (2020)

Assessment of Undergraduate Student Attitudes and Behavior Toward Energy Efficiency at Boston College By Chris Gillette, Sophie Banchoff, and Claire Kantor (2020)

Potential for Geothermal Energy at Boston College By Isabel Chin (2019)

A Comprehensive Study on the Economic and Social Effects of Integrating Solar Energy into Boston College’s Energy Infrastructure By Brian Gong, Charles Kleinsmith, and Ryan Walsh (2019)


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:

Environmental seminar projects aimed at Food and Dining have been conducted in cooperation with BC Dining Services and by utilizing the Webster Woods Conservation Area as a living laboratory.

Wildlife Monitoring and Animal Consumption for Food at Boston College By Jack Beckham, Lizzy DiSanto, Mckenna Foy, Christian McCoy, Jacob Ricco, Frankie Wilton (2021)

How Fresh is FRESH? By Jasmine Schmidt, John Msaddi, and Timothy Brannan (2021)

Menus of Change Impact on the Carbon Footprints of Top Dining Meals at Boston College By Madison Boettner and Megan Jennings (2019)

Beef Consumption at Boston College: A Discussion on the Carbon Footprint and Alternative Agricultural Practices By Jessica Carroll and Curran Clere (2019)

In all of Boston College’s dining halls, students are given the option to dispose of their trash in a Recycling bin, Compost bin, or a Landfill bin. While compost is certainly excellent for adding nutrients to soil, that is not the final destination for BC’s food waste. Instead of being turned into compost, the food waste is used in an organics-to-energy program where it is transformed into biofuel.
https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/offices/sustainability/pdf/EnvEagleNewsletterNov2021.pdf

In fall 2019 BC Dining collaborated with the Jenks Leadership Program through the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics at Boston College. The student group worked with dining interns to pilot the new Green2Go reusable container program in one dining hall. The initiative allowed the students to develop leadership skills and provide feedback to Dining on how to effectively launch the new waste reduction program.

In Spring 2021 Dining collaborated with the Boston College Public Health club to develop marketing materials highlighting local sourcing and healthy ingredients.

BC Dining chefs have also hosted several virtual and in-person cooking classes to teach food literacy skills and provide enrichment for students taking food-related courses. In April 2019 Dining hosted a sustainable seafood cooking class using seafood sourced from the Gulf of Maine. In Spring 2021 we hosted a plant-protein centric cooking class for the student health coaches team.


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:

Environmental seminar projects aimed at Landscaping have been conducted in cooperation with BC Grounds. The topics have addressed managing trees on campus, assessing the campus habitat for pollinators, and making the campus more bike friendly.

Here we include a sampling of the past projects that have focused on Grounds:

Recommendations to Create a Fragment Habitat at Boston College by Reece Hoppensteadt, Rebecca Karjian, and Kylie Kraemer (2020)

Assessing Water Quality and Groundwater Connections in Webster Woods Ponds
By Christopher Joseph and Kelsey Kosten (2019)

The Health Benefits of the Living History Tour of Boston College
By Colleen Griffin, Max Hamker, and Claire Kramer (2018)

Investigations of Campus Biodiversity for STARS Assessment
By Cara O’Connell, Armaan Tandon, and Grace Tregidgo (2018)

Exploring the Aesthetic Benefits of Arbor Landscaping at Boston College
By Risa Kuroda and Kjirsten Rhee (2017)

Assessing Pollinator Habitat at Boston College By Melissa Dangond and Connor McKnight (2017)


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

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

BC Dining has 5-6 sustainability interns that work with Dining each year to advance their sustainability projects. Student Sustainability Interns have been involved with looking at ways to source food from local farmers and processors. Students were instrumental in bringing local eggs to the campus and in facilitating BC's on-campus farmers market and CSA. The farmers market is managed by a student intern who is responsible for organizing the sourcing of local ingredients, which provides an excellent opportunity to develop skills in sustainable sourcing. Through BC Dining's FRESH label, food products and the companies that supply them are evaluated on several criteria: Fair trade, Regional location, Equitable labor practices, Sustainability, and Health. One dining intern is devoted to increasing the presence of FRESH ingredients in dining meals, including through research into options for sustainable purchasing. Current interns are in the process of researching options for regional meat sourcing.

BC Dining is also partnering with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on a project to increase sustainable seafood purchasing from New England. BC Dining hired two student fellows to lead a project to increase consumption of underutilized seafood on campus. The students will design their own project to collect data on student seafood eating habits and implement a marketing strategy to increase seafood purchases.


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 seminar projects aimed at emissions from the transportation sector have been conducted in cooperation with BC Transportation as well as local non-profit organizations.

Here we include a sampling of the past projects that have focused on sustainability challenges and solutions in the transportation sector:
Papers and posters are available at <https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/mcas/sites/envstudies/research-projects/transportation.html>

Assessing Ride Sharing Use at Boston College By Annie Silk and Sarah Hunkins(2019)

EJ and the MBTA - A study of ridesharing and public transit in the greater Boston area By Annette Heffernan, Grace Marra, and Elena West (2019)

Boston College Ride Sharing By Allison Chase and Trevor Lennox (2017)


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:

Environmental seminar projects on waste and recycling have been conducted in cooperation with Facilities, Office of Sustainability, and BC Dining.

Here we include a sampling of the past projects, along with their papers, that have focused on aspects of waste management on the BC campus:

Exploring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Production and Waste Sustainability within Boston College Dining Services By Daniel Frasca, Ashley Trotter, and Kelly Wacker (2021)
https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/bc1/schools/mcas/envstudies/PDFs/student-research/environmental-public-health/Exploring%20the%20Impact%20of%20the%20COVID-19%20Pandemic%20on%20Food%20Production%20and%20Waste%20Sustainability%20within%20Boston%20College%20Dining%20Services_2021_PAPER.pdf

Off Campus Food Waste vs On Campus Food Waste: Which one produces more food waste? By Hung Tran and Davis Wall (2019) https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/bc1/schools/mcas/envstudies/PDFs/student-research/recycling-waste/Off%20Campus%20Food%20Waste%20vs%20On%20Campus%20Food%20Waste_2019_PAPER.pdf

BC Dining is working with the student group Student Health Equity Forum (SHEF) to film a video of BC Dining's waste stream (highlighting compost and recycling) to educate students about the process. The collaboration with SHEF will encourage the student leaders to explore the waste process and create an educational tool that can be shared with other students.


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:

Environmental seminar projects on water have been conducted in cooperation with Facilities. One of the outcomes of one of the first projects (not published) was the implementation of low flow showerheads throughout much of campus (800 replacements). This action has saved the campus water and money. A 2018 student group assessed the performance of the replacement showerheads and identified ares for replacement to bring down water and energy use even more.

Here we include a sampling of the past projects, along with their papers, that have focused on aspects of water on the BC campus:

Assessing Water Quality and Groundwater Connections in Webster Woods Ponds
By Christopher Joseph and Kelsey Kosten (2019) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KjDgrr6Y6hk3BIS9NOWKclxbndowTQ3r/view

How's Your Shower?: Revisting 2013 Boston College Shower Fixture Cost-Benefit Analysis By Adam Davies and Amanda Helfrich (2018)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iXTzEYNE8xIivbQQuUvpXB1IwQZmkVGq/view

Impact Evaluation Of PCB Contamination In The Neponset River By Alec Madaus and Jeewoong Oh (2018) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YIV_u2BB6v-B0n7-AVigdDBwmW54JkpN/view


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?:
Yes

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

Courageous Conversations Towards Racial Justice is a dialogue-centered initiative on racism and privilege designed to address racial healing, equity, and justice. There are approximately four conversations that take place each semester. The Courageous Conversations Facilitation Team is a multi-racial group of faculty, students and administrators that brings together a diverse group of the BC Community for conversations on race and racial justice. Topics of past conversations are posted here: https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/sites/courageous-conversations/events.html


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?:
Yes

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

There are two environmental seminar papers that address this topic:

Exploring Classroom Temperatures: An Analysis of Student Preferences and Energy Usage By Daniel Cizmarik, Emmy Tolsdorf, Kasen Tone (2020). In addition to measuring classroom temperatures, students address in the paper gender differences in comfort level with room temperature and hgow room temperature affects productivity.

Exploring The Health Impacts Of Green Buildings On Occupants By Allison Johnson, Nicholas Chang, and Kathleen Roche (2018). The students in this project worked with the sustainability coordinators at Skanska, one of the companies that builds buildings at BC, to explore Well Building Certification systems. A Well Building Certification certifies that the building has excellent indoor air quality, natural lighting, biophilia components, access to healthy food, and fitness. The students did a cost-benefit analysis to see if the certification is worthwhile to pursue for BC's new buildings.


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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Environmental Studies Student Research
https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/mcas/sites/envstudies/research-projects.html
Research projects from 2019-2021 are referenced under the appropriate categories.

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.