Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 77.56
Liaison John Pumilio
Submission Date Oct. 11, 2022

STARS v2.2

Colgate University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 John Pumilio
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
"---" 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:

ENST 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues
Spring 2020 Focus

The focus of ENST 390 this term is exploring opportunities for becoming a zero-waste campus. We will start by investigating what zero waste really means, how diversion rates are calculated, and the challenges and opportunities other campuses have faced, in addition to analyzing historical monthly data on Colgate’s landfill and recyclable waste. We will then split into six groups that will focus on different areas of the institution: Academic Buildings, Athletics, Dining Services, ITS/Library, and Residential Life split into up-the-hill and down-the-hill groups. Each group will seek to understand current waste management practices, data, and opportunities using a mixed-methods approach that will potentially include key stakeholder interviews, community surveys, waste audits, and possible experimentation.


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:

ENST 390 Student Project: The Status of White-Tailed Deer in Hamilton, a Community Forum (Spring 2022).

Students conducted research and surveyed the role of the White-Tailed Deer in the local community. They presented their findings to community members at the Palace Theater in the Village of Hamilton and facilitated an open discussion on deer perception and management strategies in Hamilton, NY.


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:

ENST 390 Project: "New York State Climate Smart Communities Program: Feasibility and Likelihood of Achieving Silver Certification for the Town and Village of Hamilton" (Spring 2021)

In 2019, the Town and Village of Hamilton were certified as Bronze communities in New York’s Climate Smart Communities program. The CSC program provides a framework for communities to develop the capacity to mitigate their carbon footprints and build community resilience to climate impacts. The next level of certification, Silver, is harder to attain, and only seven communities have reached that goal to date. How have those communities achieved Silver status, and what would it take to bring the Town and Village of Hamilton to this level? Are there any particular benefits of making it to the Silver level, or costs? This team will rely on details from past studies and “scorecards” that helped us attain Bronze certification and will need to coordinate with the Hamilton Climate Preparedness Working Group as well as key leaders with the Town and Village. Communication with communities that have been certified CSC Silver may also be helpful.

ENST 390 Project: Communication Plan for Town and Village of Hamilton Climate Preparedness (Spring 2021).

In past semesters, ENST 390 students have developed vulnerability and resilience assessments for the Town and Village of Hamilton. Each of those projects made specific recommendations to improve communication and inform the community about climate hazards and resources. This group followed up on this work by developing a communications plan for both the Town and Village of Hamilton in order to help support their efforts for climate preparedness. This team coordinated their work with the Hamilton Climate Preparedness Working Group as well as key leaders with the Town and Village.


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:

ENST 390 Spring 2019 - Hand Dryers versus Paper Towels Final Report

Students completed a lifecycle comparative sustainability analysis of electric hand dryers vs paper towel use specific to Colgate University. The results of this project helped establish a new policy at Colgate of replacing paper towel dispensers for electric hand dryers in existing buildings and all new construction.


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:

ENST 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues (Fall 2019)
Exploring Future Options for Colgate’s Central Heating Plant.
The scope of this project was to determine the most sustainable and economically feasible plan for heating Colgate’s campus by analyzing three potential future scenarios. The first scenario of this analysis is the proposed efficiency upgrade to the biomass boiler that was submitted as a grant request to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The second scenario considers Colgate’s future if it continues operating along its current course, or “business as usual,” utilizing biomass in conjunction with natural gas until the biomass boiler can no longer operate and the plant must switch entirely to natural gas. The final scenario is a prediction based on complete reliance on natural gas in which Colgate uses no wood chips, and it shuts down the biomass boiler.


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:

ENST 390 Student Project: "A Food Hub in Hamilton, NY" (Spring 2021)

Food hubs are an increasingly popular way to support community distribution of local food and support the development of food-based businesses. Is a food hub a good idea for Hamilton? This project will follow-up on research begun by a group of ENST 390 students in Fall 2020, which focused on the supply side of food hubs. Their project paper suggests avenues for additional research on the question of whether or not a food hub could work in Hamilton, especially the potential demand for consumer and wholesale purchasing and estimates of the economic costs and benefits of a food hub. The group may also wish to assess the potential for a hood hub to increase the food security of the Hamilton community. The Partnership for Community Development and Colgate’s Dining Services will be important partners for this project


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:

ENST 390 Student Project: "Indicators of Ecological Resilience Final Report" (Spring 2021)

"Our overall research question is as follows: what are the optimal indicators for assessing climate resilience at Colgate University and the Village of Hamilton, and what metrics can be used to measure them? To develop indicators of resilience in the dimension of Ecosystem Services, we review literature pertaining to the unique environmental context of upstate NY, as well as vulnerabilities specific to Colgate University and the village of Hamilton. We then move into our methods used to research potential indicators followed by a discussion of the indicators we selected, why we selected them, and suggested metrics for measuring them. We ended up highlighting ten different indicators split into three areas of ecological significance: forests, watersheds, and the built environment. For each indicator, we specified metrics for measuring them in the initial resilience assessment along with either proposed or ongoing methods for studying them. Finally, we end with a discussion of some of the key findings of our project, including the intersectionality of the different dimensions of resilience and the multiple spatial scales that influence resilience and vulnerability. Based on these findings, we make recommendations about future indicator identification for Colgate and other ENST 390 groups as well as suggestions for ways to integrate the intellectual capital of the university in future resilience planning."


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:

ENST 390 "Assessing and Categorizing Colgate’s Local Food Expenditures" (Spring 2019)

"Colgate’s definition of sustainable food purchases encompasses third-party certified, community-based, and local foods. This research project aims to categorize Colgate’s “local” food expenditures, with an overall goal to enhance Colgate’s current food tracking system and provide useful recommendations for the Office of Sustainability and Dining Services. Dining Services at Colgate are run through Chartwells, a common dining hall service for higher education, and the majority of our food purchasing goes through this company. Currently, Colgate advertises that we spend about 30% on sustainable food purchases, and we were interested in getting a more comprehensive breakdown of this. Being able to benchmark how much we are spending on certain sustainable food categories, specifically local, will allow us to make more educated decisions, in terms of both quality and quantity, going forward."


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:

ENST 390 Student Project: "Colgate Air Travel Assessment" (Spring 2019)

"Air travel accounts for 4,297 MTeCO2, or thirty percent, of Colgate’s carbon emissions (Colgate University 2017). Colgate recently declared itself carbon neutral; however, air travel accounts for a large portion of carbon emissions that the University offsets. The University has successfully reduced its carbon footprint on other fronts; however, air travel remains a stubborn contributor to emissions, as it is central to our University’s academic mission. As the University pursues greater environmental initiatives, University air travel is a source of carbon emissions that can be improved. Thus, this project critically looks at how the University tracks air travel across all departments and what the current plan is for reducing these emissions. As it stands, the protocol for how to track, offset, and reduce air travel emissions across campus is not extensive. If Colgate wants to to reduce its reliance on offsets to become carbon neutral, air travel represents a substantial part Colgate’s carbon footprint that can benefit from greater efficiency. We hope to promote strategic self-evaluation regarding air travel on Colgate’s campus, while supporting the University’s academic values."


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:

ENST 390 (Spring 2020)
The focus of ENST 390 this term is exploring opportunities for becoming a zero waste campus. We will start by investigating what zero waste really means, how diversion rates are calculated, and the challenges and opportunities other campuses have faced, in addition to analyzing historical monthly data on Colgate’s landfill and recyclable waste. We will then split into six groups that will focus on different areas of the institution: Academic Buildings, Athletics, Dining Services, ITS/Library, and Residential Life split into up-the-hill and down-the-hill groups. Each group will seek to understand current waste management practices, data, and opportunities using a mixed-methods approach that will potentially include key stakeholder interviews, community surveys, waste audits, and possible experimentation.


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:
---

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:

Town of Hamilton, Village of Hamilton, and Colgate University Climate Resiliency Planning for NYS's Climate Smart Communities program.

"In the Spring of 2019, ENST 390 students focused on climate resilience planning. The students helped to organize and host community workshops and analyzed feedback to identify overall risks to climate change in Central New York. This effort helped to inform a collaborative effort to address the ongoing impacts of climate change locally including tree plantings, culvert upgrades, and retention ponds throughout our area to help mitigate ongoing impacts."


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:

ENST 390 Student Project: "Climate Change Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan for the Town and Village of Hamilton." (Fall 2020)

Support the Town and Village of Hamilton’s climate change planning efforts by providing them with a review of best practices for incorporating DEI principles into climate planning. Your research will include a review of the literature on this topic and include special attention to any relevant case studies that show how this work has been done well (or poorly) in communities with similar characteristics. The Hamilton Climate Preparedness Working Group will be a key community partner for your project.


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:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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ENST 390 (Community-based Study of Environmental Issues) is a project-based, interdisciplinary course that examines current environmental issues in the context of community-based learning. Students in this course take on semester-long research projects that help advance our campus sustainability program and operations. Topics for investigation are selected by faculty in conjunction with Colgate's director of sustainability, the Upstate Institute, or directly with local and regional agencies or organizations. Students get practical experience working in interdisciplinary teams to examine environmental issues with a goal of developing relevant recommendations. Examples of recent research projects include:
• "Building and Construction Sustainability at Colgate University," (Spring 2017), Katie Connors, Danny LaCrosse and Emma Newmann
• "The History of Heating at Colgate University," (Spring 2017), Julia Marchetti, Yukun Xu, Kylie Armo
• "Food Provision and the Incorporation of Sustainable Practices at Colgate University over its 200-year History as an Institution of Higher Learning," (Spring 2017), Robert Howie, Geneva Leong, and Summitt Liu
• "Land Use and Forest Management: A History of Sustainability at Colgate University," (Spring 2017) PJ Bell, Kimberly Duncan, and Martha Montufar
• "Assessing the Feasibility of Incorporating Sustainability into the Purchasing Department," (Spring 2015), Colin McMahon, Missy Velez, and Sherry Tran
• "A History of Transportation at Colgate University: An Analysis of the Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts," (Spring 2017), Marisa Chiodo, Kathryn Deaton, and Jonathan Morales
• "Reusable Takeout Container Programs and Possible Introduction at Colgate University," (Spring 2016) Grace Thomas, Kiki Torpey, and Dominic Wilkins
• "The History of Domestic Water Use at Colgate University," (Spring 2017), Jeff Potts and Ashlea Raemer
• "The Status of White-Tailed Deer in Hamilton", (Fall 2016), ENST 390 Class
• "Local and Transnational Environment Stewardship Through Religious Identities at Colgate," Glenna Thomas '17, Ro Gela Washington '16, Joshua Anyasi '17, Alex Ramon '16

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.