Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.19
Liaison Ryan Todd
Submission Date April 30, 2024

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00
"---" 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:
In 2018, Sac State received a five-year 3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch STEM-POWER, a collaborative education preparation program for faculty, teachers, and student teachers. Towards the end of summer 2022, the College of Education and local teachers engaged in a week-long program focused on the participatory action learning of STEM. The purpose of the event was to cultivate a new style of learning by creating a more hands-on approach to teaching
STEM to increase diversity and collaboration among students.

The event welcomed a total of 110 Sacramento educators who learned about bio-conservation and how soil, plants, and pollinators contribute to a healthy garden and support niche ecological systems. Teachers sampled the compost generated at Sac State’s BAC Yard and measured soil temperature.

A hands-on approach and visual representation of STEM in action offered new teaching techniques to local educators and encouraged them to extend beyond the wall of the classroom and learn from the surrounding natural environment.

Schools are now looking to community partners such as Soil Born Farms to help educators build gardens in their schools with the common goal of improving STEM
education.

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:
Students and faculty from the Sustainability program give walking tours to highlight the different sustainable features of campus. These tours include a look into the BAC Yard (Bioconversion and Agriculture Collaborative), which is home to many sustainability driven projects. Students learn about our Aquaponics system and are shown the differences between the three different types of composting which take place in the BAC Yard. They are also given a peek into the process of pollination from our on campus beehives, as well as a look into how honey is created.

Sac State partners with Sacramento Municipal Utilities District to be part of the Sustainable Communities Program. The program helps bring environmental equity and economic vitality to all communities in SMUD's service area, with special attention given to historically underserved neighborhoods.

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:
Environmental Studies Department Chair, Wayne Linklater received a $10,000 grant from Second Nature to conduct air quality research in Sacramento’s
most impacted communities. The research will correlate the relationship
between air quality and respiratory illness.

Sac State is working with Breathe California and United Latinos to establish
air-monitoring zones in South Sacramento and North Highlands. These
areas are historically known to have less tree coverage and high exposure to air
pollution from regional proximity to highways and industrial areas. Although
California has strict vehicle emission standards, exhaust from cars and trucks largely contributes to air pollution. Major roadways and interstates bring
chemical pollutants and particulate matter into nearby neighborhoods.
Children who go to school and live near densely populated roadways have higher
rates of asthma than children who live farther from roads. Additionally, longterm
exposure to air pollution can also contribute to cardiovascular disease in
the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

This research initiative strives to bring community awareness to air quality conditions in at-risk communities in order to educate and inform residents on future policies and resources to improve their quality of life.

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:
Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex serves as the most sustainable building on campus. Some of the sustainable features of this building are: a living roof, usage of recycled wood from fallen campus trees, large windows for natural light accessibility, and energy efficient fume hoods. These features, along with many more, are notated with building-wide signage, allowing students to learn more about the sustainability practices on campus. Additonally, an interactive guided tour is offered to engage students in the sustainable attributes of the building.

The Well at Sac State is also LEED certified and has earned Gold Certification with 41 points in the following categories: Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation and Process, and Sustainable Sites. The tour provided by The Well includes points of interest like sunflower seed wall panels, Foiltech skylight, and terrazzo floor.

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 2023, a group of senior Electrical Engineering students conducted an assessment for the replacement of natural gas boilers that provided heated hot water and domestic hot water at one of the residence halls on campus. Working with the staff from the sustainability department to secure electricity load data for the building and gas use, they put together a feasibility study for the cost and potential of replacing the current equipment to align with the campus’s decarbonization goals through electrification.

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:
California State University, Sacramento offers the Nutrition and Food 110 course. The course provides study and laboratory experience in planning, procuring, production, serving, and evaluation of food for individuals, families, commercial, and institutional foodservice operations. Application of menu development techniques such as recipe modification and standardization to various target populations. Examination and application of marketing analysis and promotion. Understanding of current issues and sustainability topics related to food production.

During the course, lab hours are spent in the Capital Public Radio garden learning a variety of gardening techniques, observing garden development throughout the season, and partaking in necessary garden processes.

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:
Sac State participated in AMPlied Urban Forest. This tree planting event was to engage with the campus community in adding underutilized species to Sac State’s tree collection. Overall the event aimed to teach the community how trees contribute to community wellness and develop community based knowledge and tools to sustain and maintain the newly planted trees.

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:
During Earth Week 2022, the Office of Sustainability launched the CSUSwide app Hornet Reuse. It allowed students, faculty, and staff to use the platform to give away their items to other members of the campus community. It was a marketplace-like app where users could post items to give or ask for items they could use. The app was restricted to only CSUS members and everything was given and received for free.

The app was revolutionary and helped achieve campus waste goals. Every year tons of waste are generated on college campuses across the country. The app provided a sustainable solution by preventing the purchase of new items, and re-purposing items, and keeping usable items out of the landfills.

Is 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:
Sac State celebrated California Clean Air Day on October 4, 2023. The campus partnered with Sacramento Regional Transit to offer Sac State employees and students a free Transit Field Trip. The program was designed to help people feel more confident and comfortable taking public transit.

Whether going to work, school, running errands, or attending a Kings game at Golden 1, the bus or light rail can get you there! Sacramento Regional Transit offers many services throughout Sacramento County, all while being more cost-efficient than driving your car and better for the environment by reducing emissions. But if you have never taken public transit, the bus and light rail can seem daunting. To help people feel more comfortable and confident, the 50 Corridor + Sacramento TMAs have teamed up with Sacramento Regional Transit to take Sacramento State Employees and Students on a short transit field trip.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sac-state-transit-field-trip-tickets-719212533047
https://www.cleanairday.org/events/2023/431-Sac-State-Transportation-Fair-and-Transit-Field-Trip-for-Current-Employees-and-Students/

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:
One of composting programs is thermal composting, which aims to capture post consumer food waste. Students collect food waste and coffee grounds from on campus eateries and coffee houses to compost. This mixture is mixed with leaves to create compost, some of which is then put back onto campus to fertilize the plants and trees. The rest of the compost is donated to businesses, schools, and members of the community.

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:
Switching to drip irrigation in the arboretum will benefit the physical campus by reducing the amount of water wasted, lowering overall water usage, and reducing management costs. With the broadcast sprinklers currently in use, most dispersed water evaporates before it is absorbed into the soil, wasting mass volumes and leaving little water for intended plants. Additional water is wasted on undesirable weedy plants. However, with a drip irrigation system, weeds will not receive excess water, which will moderate their growth and reduce the need of physical labor to remove them from garden beds. Additionally, sprinklers do not properly reach target plants. Because of their overhead distribution of water, tree and shrub roots are encouraged to grow horizontally. However, if we install drip irrigation systems and use irrigation stakes to deliver water to the roots of plants, we can promote vertical root growth. Plants on campus that have vertical roots will be more resilient to drought and strong winds, which will further reduce the labor required for maintaining our landscape. Drip irrigation will also enhance the durability of walking paths because broadcast spraying encourages erosion and creates potholes on sandy paths. Not only will drip irrigation benefit the physical campus by conserving water and reducing management costs, but it will also promote proper plant growth and health. Overall, replacing the majority of our current sprinkler system with drip irrigation will improve the overall aesthetic quality and ecological relevance of our campus. With this project, we hope to convert approx. 95% of the current irrigation infrastructure in the university’s arboretum from broadcast spraying sprinkler heads to drip irrigation lines. A targeted watering system will conserve water, promote vertical growth of plant roots, and reduce management costs. We realize that approx. 5% of the current sprinkler heads will need to remain in order to support a certain aesthetic in areas where we want to have a grassy lawn. Also, some mature trees may benefit from maintaining a broadcast watering regime because they have grown accustomed to receiving water in this way. In all other areas of the arboretum, we hope to customize water delivery to the base (and root zone) of target plants that are maintained within garden beds as part of the botanical collection. Additionally, we plan to quantify the water savings of our project by calculating the difference in gallons per hour used by the new drip lines compared with the previous broadcast emitters. With the data we collect from our project and also general information about sustainable landscaping, we intend to create educational signage that we can display in the arboretum. Our intention is to create a didactic outdoor learning environment where, through our model landscape, the community can visit and learn specific ways in which we can move toward a more sustainable future. One long-term goal for the arboretum is to have rainwater capture and storage infrastructure; drip irrigation is the first step. The extent to which we are able to kickstart the upgrade of our irrigation system will be limited by the generosity of the Student Sustainability Fund.

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:
The Hivemind Cohort is for students (and recent graduates) who are working on launching their startups. By being an active member of the cohort, the program will connect you to valuable resources, teach important entrepreneurial methods, and facilitate peer interaction and accountability. The goal of this program is to help you accomplish milestones that you have set for yourself and your business, as well as foster a community of peers who are also launching their startups. The Hivemind Cohort will take place over ten weeks split into three 3-week sprints (diverge and converge) that are centered on key milestones to grow and scale your idea/startup. In addition, you will be testing three core assumptions of your startup which are its Desirability, Viability, and Feasibility. At the end of each sprint, all teams will report out/ demo what they have been working on during that time, which provides peer accountability.
Some of the benefits of the cohort include:
• Access to subject matter experts and one-on-one mentors
• Milestone formation & tracking
• Mastermind discussion
• Community building & support
• Private workshops with experts in different fields
• A mentor from the community
• Team workspace in the Carlsen Center
• Catered content for early-stage startups
• Opportunities to pitch and present to the Sacramento Community

https://www.csus.edu/center/carlsen/build-with-carlsen-center/hivemind-cohort.html

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 Associated Students Inc. or ASI is an organization to assist and advocate for students at Sac State. ASI is home to the food pantry, a place on campus where students in financial hardship can get food and toiletries for free. Another service they offer is the Pop-Up pantry, a bi-monthly program where students can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, some of which are grown on campus.
https://asi.csus.edu/asi-food-pantry

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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
Sustainability has partnered with the business department to give students a better understanding of how sustainability, finance, and business are correlated. The sustainability department will give walking tours of campus and the BAC Yard to students to teach them about the different efforts that go into a sustainable campus as well as an understanding of how that relates to financial decisions.

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:
Nutrition services offered at Student Health and Counseling Services include individual counseling and group classes.

The group classes include free live cooking demonstrations. At cooking demos students learn to prepare tasty, easy recipes for busy humans. Participants will increase their confidence in how to follow a recipe, safely chop food, add fruits and vegetables to their meals, and recieve resources for eating on a tight budget.

There are also other classes such as One-Pot meals where participants learn to make complete meals by using only one dish, better understanding nourishing foods in each of the food groups, and practice making meals balanced. They are also offered resources on how to find delicious recipes for more dishes.

Additionally, they offer a three-part workshop series where participants will meet with the CalFresh Healthy Living team. The workshops are Healthy Meal Planning and Prepping, Easy Dishes with Meat (and Meat Alternatives), and Lunch on the Go.

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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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
https://www.csus.edu/experience/innovation-creativity/sustainability/bac-yard.html
https://www.csus.edu/experience/innovation-creativity/sustainability/_internal/_documents/ir-faucet.pdf

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.