Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 56.16
Liaison Matthew Liesch
Submission Date May 13, 2024

STARS v2.2

Central Michigan University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Eric Urbaniak
Student Reviewer
OID
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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 Campus Engagement?:
Yes

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

Eric Urbaniak was a biology and public and nonprofit administration major and for his Honors capstone research project he surveyed the Central Michigan University student body to assess their sustainability knowledge and behaviors, as well as demographic information about the survey respondents. The research covered how sustainability is an emerging theme across college campuses, as well as at CMU. The survey was administered to 25% of main-campus undergraduate students at CMU. Through the analysis of the survey responses, there were several key findings regarding students and their knowledge of sustainability currently, and their behaviors, such as if students feel their individual actions make meaningful change. Students within this survey were also asked which sustainability projects they would like to see pursued on CMU’s campus, such as a designated recycling drop-off location for off-campus students or composting bins in residential kitchenettes. This research is expected to be published in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2024.


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:

In the class “Adapting to our Changing Climate” students worked with their professor, Matthew Liesch, and classmates to evaluate climate action plans of different cities around the country and use this data to compile a list of strategies and details to include in a climate action plan. Through this, students learned the importance of engaging stakeholders when constructing a climate action plan, and how best to structure a climate action plan so that it is easily readable and accessible to the public. At the end of the semester, the students gave a presentation to the city of Mount Pleasant community members and city hall employees that were working on drafting a climate action plan. The presentation included specific background data, key elements to include in a climate action plan, and suggestions about how to structure the climate action plan specific to Mount Pleasant.


 The following message was sent to City Hall employees regarding the presentation: Hi all, Please join me at the City Commission Chambers on Monday, December 11, 2023 to watch a presentation from CMU students, who will be presenting their research about Mt Pleasant’s vulnerability to Climate Change. This class project was designed by Matthew Liesch, who is a Planning Commissioner and the Chairperson of Geography & Environmental Studies at CMU. Matt Liesch teaches the course “Climate Change Adaptation” and worked in partnership with the City’s Planning Department on this effort. Presentation starts at 2:30pm, followed by Q&A at 3pm. Please invite others as you see fit! Thank you, Manuela


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:

There are certain classes at CMU that have projects relating to air and climate. In one class, called Socio-Ecological Resiliency, students had a class project of analyzing tree density, tree condition, tree age, and identifying “tree deserts” in campus neighborhoods north of CMU’s campus in order to make recommendations on where to plant new trees in Mount Pleasant. These students had the opportunity to present this information to Mount Pleasant city officials, including the city manager. Master Course Syllabus: https://centralmichigan.sharepoint.com/sites/AcademicSenate/Syllabi/GEO/GEO325.pdf Additionally, in a Soil Science class, students had a class project to analyze soil pH, soil permeability, soil temperature, and all the tree conditions mentioned in the previous paragraph. This data was collected to make recommendations on where to plant new trees, what type of trees to plant, and how to improve soil conditions. The students presented this information to the Mount Pleasant City Planner and other city officials. The reasoning behind these projects is that trees reduce urban heat island effects and absorb carbon dioxide, as well as other auto-related particulates:


 Bulletin Description of Course:


https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/geo-geography/300/geo-334/


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:

In the class “Sustainable Engineering”, students need to present on a sustainable engineering topic at the end of the semester to demonstrate all that they have learned throughout the semester in relation to sustainability concepts and the application of them. Students Matthew Okoney, Immanuel Arrington, and Peyton Bremer created their final project on Green Buildings, where they researched what green buildings are, and defined them as “a response to climate change, and depleting resources by developing new technology to make buildings more energy efficient and water efficient.” They then compare and contrast Green Buildings with traditional buildings by referencing EPA Green Building Standards and discussing the importance of green buildings moving forward with construction. These students also explored LEED certification within their projects, and how buildings earn points within the 6 LEED credit categories. In addition, students Gavin Percha, Brendan Gough, and Chad Sponseller did their final project on sustainable insulation in homes. They discussed how insulation works and how “the goal for sustainable insulation is to create adequate insulating materials without the need for intense modification of recyclable materials.” They then detailed the ways in which insulation is important for sustainability, economically, socially, and environmentally. They ended their presentation by comparing the different types of insulation and how sustainable they are either in their materials or how effective they are. 


Bulletin Description of Course: https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/egr-engineering/400/egr-410/


 


 


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:

Many class projects involve students learning more about Central Michigan University’s current renewable energy initiatives and ways to improve CMU’s non-renewable energy use. Students in Dr. Mark Francek and Dr. Wiline Pangle’s class needed to obtain energy data regarding CMU and investigate potential ways to implement more sustainable energy on CMU’s campus. Additionally, three Masters of Science in Engineering students under the supervision of Dr. Donghyun Shin have “developed thermal energy storage for concentrated solar power plants.” The goal of this is to make concentrated solar power technology more effective in means of energy production and replace fossil fuels.


 https://www.cmich.edu/offices-departments/office-research-graduate-studies/focus-on-faculty/faculty-highlight-stories/enhancing-energy-storage


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:

In the class “Sustainable Engineering” students must give a final project that examines how processes can be made more sustainable. Two students, Jenna Booth and Brianna Tavolacci did their final project on reducing food waste. These students examined how many pounds of food waste are generated on college campuses, what resources CMU currently has to reduce waste from food and dining, and presented on specific case studies of universities that have developed strategies to reduce their food waste. They also examined how they could use these other universities as models to reduce CMU’s food waste. The presentation at the end included a variety of proposals to reduce waste at CMU, such as increasing CMU compost bin availability, expand CMU farming abilities through using the greenhouse, and educating students within specific programs about different sustainability practices and techniques.


Bulletin Description of Course: https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/egr-engineering/400/egr-410/


 


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:

For a term project, in the class “Sustainable Engineering”, student Jeremy Krogman and Madeline Manarino did a project regarding permeable pavement, complete with a report and a presentation at the end of the class. The presentation covered an introduction to permeable pavers, and how they are designed specifically with drainage in mind. It discusses how these permeable pavers are great for areas that don’t have a natural slope or drainage system. It also discusses how it prevents rainwater from pooling and creating waste/contaminated water by allowing water to permeate back into the Earth. Their presentation covered how normal, impermeable parking lots create green house gas emissions in both their construction and their maintenance, while also increasing urban runoff and creating urban heat island effects. They then pose permeable pavement as an option instead of traditional pavement. They detail the differences between permeable and impermeable pavement, and the different types of permeable pavements. They end the presentation by reiterating how permeable pavers are a great option for limiting pollutants and how it limits the cost over time while creating a more sustainable environment. 


Bulletin Description of Course: https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/egr-engineering/400/egr-410/


 


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:

Students who work with Central Sustainability, specifically Eric Urbaniak, Claire DeBlanc, and Tiffany Jurge, made a grant proposal in collaboration with the Mount Pleasant Discovery Museum to start a “sustainability summer camp.” In the process of writing this grant, students had researched purchasing “sustainability kits” for the summer camp attendees. The sustainability kits which would include a reusable water bottle, reusable bag, ant farm, bee kit, and environmental books. The students researched the best products to buy from a sustainability view and a price-point. For example, the students researched the cheapest reusable water bottles that were still made out of quality material and would be durable for long-time use. Additionally, the students looked into which companies to purchase the ant farms from to ensure they were financially feasible to purchase for every student at the summer camp. Through this process, students learned more about how to purchase materials on a budget but also sustainably.


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:

CMU has a student organization called Formula SAE which is organized by the International Society of Automotive Engineers. In this organization, students, primarily engineering students, learn how to build a miniature race car. After spending the academic year developing their formula-style race car, they race it at multiple competitions. In 2022, CMU’s team has switched to a fully electric vehicle. In this process, students have learned about sustainable, electric transportation. The students have worked directly with auto manufacturers to develop their miniature racing cars, and in the process learned how electric vehicles are the future of transportation.


 https://www.cmich.edu/academics/colleges/college-science-engineering/departments-schools/school-of-engineering-and-technology/meet-team-chippewa-racing


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:

Central Sustainability conducts three waste audits a semester where Central Sustainability student workers take a dumpster from one of the residence halls and sort through it to see what should have been recycled and composted. They then obtain a potential diversion rate of the percentage of waste that could have been diverted from the landfill. When Central Sustainability does this, they do it on the front lawn of the University Center, where many students walk past. This allows for students to learn more about waste at CMU and ways that students could improve by diverting recyclables and compostables away from the landfill. Additionally, students in Central Sustainability make municipal solid waste charts for each month that categorize how much waste was landfilled, recycled, or composted in order to be better educated about CMU’s waste patterns. These municipal solid waste charts also help educate the public about how much waste CMU generates as a whole in order to inform the general student body to be more mindful of how much they consume and that they dispose of it responsibly.


https://cmichwaste.wordpress.com/sustainability-research-database/


 


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:

Furthermore, the class “Water and Wastewater Engineering” the students learn about water supply and the how municipal wastewater treatment plants work. The professor of the class, Maggie Williams, worked with students to develop their understanding of sustainable water usage and effective water treatment. Students were then tasked with upgrading an existing water treatment plant to meet the specific needs of the community, including safer water, more efficient treatment processes, and implementing water reuse systems to help with water scarcity.


Bulletin Description of Course: 


https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/egr-engineering/400/egr-407/


Dr. Rebecca Uzarksi is a professor in the Environmental Health and Safety program, and every semester she brings her students on a trip to tour the Water Resource Recovery Facility in Mount Pleasant so students can learn about the process of cleaning the wastewater that residents produce. They learn about the energy that it takes to clean the water and why it’s important to conserve the water in order to conserve energy, and why there are certain contaminants that should never be put in the water system and they won’t be easily cleaned up. Students also learn about the reporting process that wastewater treatment plants must go through with the EPA in order to maintain safety standards. 


Bulletin Description of Course:


https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/hsc-health-sciences/300/hsc-352/


 


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:

There are certain classes at CMU that relate to coordination and planning. For example, there is a class called the "Art of Event Planning," where students each spring semester learn about putting on an event, and plan a fashion show, called the Threads Fashion show. This includes selling tickets to the event, creating a VIP event, complete with gifts, dinner and a show, and then contacting student designers to design and make clothing for models to wear at the fashion show. The professor of this class, Ian Mull, and the students within it collaborated with Central Sustainability to integrate sustainability into the course to ensure that the fashion show’s VIP event and the fashion show itself is zero-waste.


Bulletin Description of Course:


https://cmich.smartcatalogiq.com/2023-2024/undergraduate-bulletin/courses/ind-interior-design/300/ind-331/


Threads Fashion Show:


https://www.cmich.edu/academics/colleges/college-education-human-services/departments/DIFM/fashion-merchandising-design/threads-fashion-show


 


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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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 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?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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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:
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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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.