Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.67
Liaison Stephen Ellis
Submission Date Oct. 7, 2021

STARS v2.2

Boston University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Stephen Ellis
Director, Data Analytics
BU 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?:
No

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

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

The BU Cross-College Challenge (XCC) is an interdisciplinary project-based course. The XCC engages students in team projects that address a real-world problem or an enduring human question. Student teams work with their faculty as well as with a variety of on-campus and community partners on a substantial, research-based challenge while building their knowledge and skills.

This XCC Course is entitled: Learning About Boston & Beyond By Walking It –Exploring One City as a Case Study to Explore Master/Counter Narratives. In this spring 2019 course, students physically explore the city of Boston through a series of “trails” including the Freedom Trail, Black Heritage Trail, Women’s Heritage Trail, Boston Journalism Trail, and the Innovation Trail, as well through more recent analyses of “protests” in Boston over the last two years. Through course lectures, readings, and films, this course employs “fieldwork” as a means through which to learn the concept of master/counternarrative through the field of critical race theory. This course allows students to explore how the city of Boston has resisted the master narrative as well as its complicity in perpetuating issues of segregation and systemic racism.

[FY2019]


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:

In spring 2020, As a part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Wiley Hundertmark (CAS ’20) worked with faculty mentor Lucy Hutrya to conduct research centered around the biogenic emissions produced on the BU campus. Focusing on the overall landscape of the university, Wiley spent hundreds of hours drawing polygonal diagrams in order to understand ways for reducing BU’s fossil fuel emissions and utilizing the overall campus space more efficiently. He was able to account for over 5,100 unique polygons for the landscape. His work identified needs and immediately facilitated tree planting in the relevant areas on campus.

[FY2020]


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:

As a part of Sarabeth Buckley’s Ph.D. project, in the Earth and Environment Department working with Nathan Phillips, she is trying to increase growth in green roof gardens through carbon fertilization by taking CO2 from inside of buildings from people breathing and following it through the ventilation system to apply it to a garden. This involved calculating CO2 produced by the number of people in the rooms in the building and comparing this to CO2 levels measured with sensors inside classrooms, in building spaces, coming out of exhaust vents on the roof, and atmospheric CO2. The next step was growing crops next to the vents on the roof top and next to control fans blowing atmospheric air. This would help increase campus and larger sustainability efforts by conducting proof of concept tests for a system that could help increase growth in any green roof garden with access to exhaust air

Her second project is developing a grading system for buildings at Boston University to determine whether or not they are suitable locations for green roofs to be installed. This involved using examples of other grading systems designed for other campuses and cities, talking to BU administration and facilities and other experts in industry and at other campuses, using an existing solar feasibility study, and conducting an extensive literature review. Relevant categories and subcategories were identified and a scale and weighting system was developed for all subcategories. This was used to test three different buildings and rate them.

Buckley presented on the projects in May 2019.

[FY2019]


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:

In 2019, Associate Professor Michael Gevelber collaborated with several undergraduate students (Rebecca Kahn, Justin Lee, Jaun Leal, Max Davidowitz, Ryan Peters, Michael DiMuccio, Luca Amorosa, Julia Kaminski, Michelle Lin) to conduct Boston University’s Energy Efficiency Pilot study for Brownstone Dorms and Offices. Brownstone dorms represent 19% of BU’s dorm space and overall represents 1.3 million gross square feet (11.5%) of BU’s Charles River Campus. Overall, these researchers found that these brownstone dorms were heavily contributing to BU’s energy waste. The team brought in outside blower door expert, Jason Taylor, and found specific major leaks around old chimney flues, windows, doors, and gaps in pass throughs. Moreover, energy waste was also contributed to the outdated boiler controllers and thermal regulation control systems within the rooms. The researchers team presented these findings to facilities in order to conduct a needed brownstone renovation project for these buildings.

[FY2020]


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:

Beginning in the fall of 2018, Boston University Dining Services held Weigh the Waste events in the three major dining halls to increase awareness about the scale of post-consumer food waste generated on campus, empower students to reduce their waste, and identify common sources of waste. Each dining hall hosted one event in the fall semester and one event in the spring semester. These events were led by the Sustainability Director for Dining Services and supported by students involved with BU’s Student Government and BU Sustainability. During these events students were encouraged to scrape their plate waste into clear bins for edible and inedible waste. After the events the results were shared on social media and in the respective dining hall.

[FY2019]


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

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

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

In fall 2018, student teams from Questrom’s MSMS program analyzed facets of Sustainability’s initiative to replace BU’s existing vehicle fleet with electric vehicles. Three teams each considered internal processes and structures, incentives for implementing EVs, and infrastructure needed to support the implementation. The diverse nature of the MSMS students, all non-business undergraduate degrees, led them to take very broad approaches to analyzing the various dimensions. The resulting recommendations included a phased approach to developing policies and governance, applying for government grants, acquiring vehicles and supporting facilities, and broadening the range of EVs over a five-year period to support needs on both the CRC and Medical Campus.

The students teams executed the project during a seven-week program module, supported by course work in corporate strategy and finance, along with faculty mentors experienced in consulting. Requirements and data gathering entailed interviews with a robust set of internal BU and external stakeholders, including industry groups, EV vendors, vehicle monitoring and data collection vendors, fleet management firms, utilities, facilities, and government organizations. The recommendations were supported by financial analyses consistent with BU’s capital budgeting processes. As the EV industry is fast evolving, opportunities for positive environmental impact coupled with cost savings present a significant win-win for BU and its sustainability initiatives.

[FY2019]


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

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

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

In spring 2020, student teams from Questrom’s MSMS program analyzed facets of waste at BU in support of BU Sustainability’s Zero Waste Initiative (ZWI) aiming to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. As ZWI’s goals relate to the diversion of waste from landfill or incineration, three MSMS teams each considered the chain of wastes coming to campus, those generated on campus from its activities, and those leaving campus. The diverse nature of the MSMS students, all non-business undergraduate degrees, led them to take very broad approaches to analyzing the various dimensions.

The teams’ consulting began with a review of the ZWI work to date and interviews with members of the task force. From there, focal areas for analysis were identified as key opportunities for improvement: retail dining and food-related waste, campus waste bin infrastructure and student engagement, and waste hauling processes. Each team executed surveys with key internal and external stakeholders: food service managers and staff, facilities and maintenance personnel, students, trash removal vendors, and incinerator operators. Opportunities for enhancements and associated recommendations included alternative beverage dispensing, training to induce students’ behavioral changes, and reassessment of current waste hauling processes. Financial analyses underscored cost-saving opportunities from the recommendations.

[FY2020]


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:
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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 Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

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

As a part of the development for the future Center for Computing & Data Sciences (CCDS) BU Sustainability intern, Hayden Tutty, participated in meetings (during fall 2019) with Campus Planning & Operations and architecture firm KPMB, documented the process, and did a write-up about the project development. Hayden's report illustrated Boston University’s decision to develop a major academic building with carbon-free operation. Overall, the CCDS, will be Boston’s largest fossil fuel free building. The Center positions the University as an institutional leader in both interdisciplinary research and sustainability. The innovative building design forgoes a traditional natural gas boiler system in favor of a 31 vertical well geothermal system using 100% renewable energy.

[FY2020]


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:

The BU Cross-College Challenge (XCC) is an interdisciplinary project-based course. The XCC engages students in team projects that address a real-world problem or an enduring human question. Student teams work with their faculty as well as with a variety of on-campus and community partners on a substantial, research-based challenge while building their knowledge and skills.

As part of the XCC Course "EQUIPPING COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH THE TOOLS TO BRING ABOUT SOCIAL CHANGE," students created a presentation and actionable knowledge through research related to food insecurity. During this fall 2019 course, the students examined food insecurity on college campuses including Boston University, how food insecurity impacts students, how to make accessible options for students who are struggling financially, and what implementation requirements would be required for a food pantry for students on BU's campus. The students received an award for their research/analysis which allowed them to begin the food pantry implementation process.

[FY2020]


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:

The BU Cross-College Challenge (XCC) is an interdisciplinary project-based course. The XCC engages students in team projects that address a real-world problem or an enduring human question. Student teams work with their faculty as well as with a variety of on-campus and community partners on a substantial, research-based challenge while building their knowledge and skills.

As part of the XCC Course "EQUIPPING COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH THE TOOLS TO BRING ABOUT SOCIAL CHANGE," students presented their research on mental health for BU students (in fall 2019). For their project, the students proposed that a Mental Health Text Chat would be an adequate solution to improving the mental health of students on campus as an extension of BU's current Student Health Services. The students researched the mental health scope and associated consequences of poor mental health for students on campus, as well as looking at implementation logistics and costs for a mental health text chat on campus.

[FY2020]


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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