Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Austin Eriksson
Submission Date Feb. 29, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

California State University, Northridge
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Helen Cox
Director, Institute for Sustainability
Institute for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing ---
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Other ---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students worked as interns for the Institute for Sustainability in conducting the campus's greenhouse gas inventory. A graduate student worked with the Institute to conduct a study of the urban heat island effect within the CSUN campus for his thesis.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

CSUN's FPDC and Engineering Departments have come together to work with students and improve their knowledge of how buildings operate and the effect of different technologies on their efficiency. One of the courses studies how buildings are performing; evaluates how much ecological efficiency they can offer in their current conditions; identify possible avenues that can be implemented to increase the level of efficiency; and finally develop an optimized renovation scheme based on a 3-D simulation model to increase the level of efficiency. This is carried out in several phases by senior level civil engineering students and is incorporated as part of their course curriculum satisfying their degree requirements. At the end of each semester a Building Energy Analysis Report will be supplied to FPDC/PPM that will outline all feasible upgrades including cost, ROI, savings, etc.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University Corporation employees students to help analyze how much REAL Food the university purchases and serves. This is being done through an initial pilot study to determine the baseline for CSUN in The REAL Food Challenge. The Real Food Challenge is a national student movement advocating for a sustainable food system. The objective is to increase the level of food at university eateries that are categorized as Real Food.
Schools who sign onto the Real Food Commitment pledge to shift 20% of all food spending to Real Food sources by 2020.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

CSUN's FPDC and Engineering Departments have come together to work with students and improve their knowledge of how buildings operate and the effect of different technologies on their efficiency. One of the courses studies how buildings are performing; evaluates how much ecological efficiency they can offer in their current conditions; identify possible avenues that can be implemented to increase the level of efficiency; and finally develop an optimized renovation scheme based on a 3-D simulation model to increase the level of efficiency. This is carried out in several phases by senior level civil engineering students and is incorporated as part of their course curriculum satisfying their degree requirements. At the end of each semester a Building Energy Analysis Report will be supplied to FPDC/PPM that will outline all feasible upgrades including cost, ROI, savings, etc.
Students in campus housing participated in the Campus Conservation Nationals, reading and entering meter data and conducting dorm competitions to reduce energy use.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Institute for Sustainability runs a campus composting site and a garden where the compost is used. This program is ran by student employees and volunteers with the supervision of a faculty member. Students learn how to compost properly and how to grow edible food in a garden. This program also serves as an educational facility for CSUN community members as well as surrounding community members who are interested in learning how to compost and grow their own food. See http://www.csun.edu/sustainability/campus-food-garden-and-compost-program

Students from the Geography department created Campus Tree Walking Guides for the community to use to learn about trees on campus. See http://www.csun.edu/sustainability/tree-mapping


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

A class of Urban Studies students were engaged in the analysis of commuting data associated with the 2015 commuting report. They computed energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuting to campus, and assessed the viability of using alternative transportation.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

CSUN has a fully functioning recycling center on campus that is run through Associated Students. The recycling program at CSUN was established in 1991 as a collaborative effort between Associated Students (A.S.) and the university to promote the benefits of recycling and divert recyclable materials from the university’s waste stream.

Today, A.S. Campus Recycling continues to support the campus community by collecting paper, cardboard, pallets, inkjet and laser toner cartridges, cell phones, tin cans and beverage containers. In all, more than 200 locations are served throughout the campus.

Campus Recycling’s collections services and outreach also provide students with organizational and leadership roles as well as work experience. Student participants are an example of environmental stewardship for future generations.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students in housing participated in a dorm competition for the Campus Conservation Nationals. They assessed water use and developed strategies for its reduction. Students in our Sustainability capstone course conducted an analysis of the potential for drought-tolerant landscaping on campus and potential water savings for conversion from turf.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students in sustainability classes contributed towards development of CSUN Sustainability Plan. Students in sustainability capstone course carried out semester-long project to investigate two-sided printing on campus which resulted in campus policy on two-sided printing default for all printers.
The plan can be found at: http://www.csun.edu/sustainability/csun-sustainability-plan


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Commit to Be Fit is a free fitness and wellness program led by CSUN Kinesiology students four nights per week. The workouts consist of functional cardiovascular and resistance training aimed to get you in shape and help you feel your best. The program is open to CSUN staff, faculty, and community members. http://www.csun.edu/wellbeing/staff-faculty-and-community-fitness-program-0


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Business students in finance manage a $2 million portfolio for the campus. They are carrying out a study to investigate impacts of designating this or a portion of this for environmentally sustainable investments.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The sustainability capstone course engages students in community service projects related to sustainability. These include outreach to business customers on energy and water conservation using rebates from the utility company, outreach in support of Grid Alternatives, which provides no-cost residential solar to low-come families, canvassing in support of an electric streetcar to serve the local area.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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