Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.48
Liaison Spencer Gray
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

College of the Atlantic
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Rob Levin
Director of Communications
Communications
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

Student Nicholas Urban '15 conducted a term-long senior project at COA in spring 2015 studying the feasibility of College of the Atlantic's goals regarding its institutional Energy Framework. The document contains a 35-year road map with energy projects and milestones. The study compared the college's current baseline with the 35 year road map to assess the feasibility of various goals and milestones.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

In winter 2016, visiting faculty member John Gordon taught Sustainability in the Built Environment. For its final class project, students analyzed COA’s existing Arts and Sciences building, and created a range of solutions to replace or renovate the building for improved efficiency, sustainability, and functionality. Students in the class compiled faculty and staff requests for space, learned design skills, and created a project solution to address needs sustainably.

Another example of a multidisciplinary student project related to buildings is the development of the college's Sustainable Building Policy. Students, staff, and faculty worked together to develop the policy through the college's Campus Committee for Sustainability and the Campus Planning and Building Committee. The final policy was approved by the All College Meeting in spring 2015. The policy sets standards for new building spaces around energy use, discarded resource recovery and management, water use, and building materials. A committee of students, staff, and faculty are current using this policy and the class work referenced above as we work with architects to design new academic and administrative spaces for campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

For the spring 2015 Physics and Mathematics of Sustainable Energy course, one final student project focused on two areas of sustainable energy development at the college's Peggy Rockefeller Farms property. This project involved a review of the efficacy and financial impact of a solar panel installation, and an investigation of the feasibility of building a solar-powered greenhouse at the farm, including analyzing current greenhouse options on the market.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

In winter 2018, the Anthropology of Food class taught by professor Kourtney Collum, includes a student "takeover" of the college's dining hall. Each student in the class designs a meal of personal and cultural significance, which they then work with dining hall staff to produce in quantity sufficient to feed the student body, faculty, and staff. According to Dr. Collum, “Through this assignment we hope to help the broader COA community think about the social and political histories of the foods we eat; how things like war and globalization and colonialism have shaped our diets. The assignment isn’t meant to provide any answers; the goal is to prompt endless questions. It’s literal food for thought.”

Another example is in the college's Foodprint class, taught every other year and most recently in winter 2017. From the course description: "What are the elements that make up our campus food system? Where does COA’s food come from; under what conditions is it produced, transported, and prepared; and who is involved in this complex system? This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze local food systems, beginning right here at COA. In collaboration with COA’s kitchen and farm managers, vendors, and food systems faculty, students will hone their qualitative and quantitative research skills while exploring questions such as: What are the impacts of the food purchasing and consumption decisions we make at COA? What would it take to transition to a sustainable regional diet, and how could we do that while being sensitive to individuals’ food needs and diets? How do formal and informal policies shape our dining decisions? By examining our campus food system through a human ecological lens, students will develop their own set of standards for assessing the sustainability and quality of campus food and develop a vision and set of recommendations for increasing the social and environmental sustainability of our campus food system." Student projects in this course include inventorying and categorizing all college food purchases to assess the sustainability of the campus food system; surveying students, faculty, and staff on their dining behaviors and preferences; working with campus stakeholders including dining hall managers, farmers, and food distributors; and ultimately making recommendations for changes in the campus food system.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

Student Yaniv Korman '18 has, over the course of two years, utilized plant knowledge, landscape architecture, and organizational planning to rehabilitate an old garden on campus known as the Sunken Garden. Korman is not just beautifying the space - he is replanting it with perennial, edible plants which will grow without the use of harmful pesticides or fossil-fuel-based fertilizers. He has worked with groups such as the COA gardening club and over the past two years and Professor Isabel Mancinelli’s landscape architecture class to rehabilitate the long-neglected garden.

This ongoing project has helped to educate a number of COA students on the value of edible plants, the tenets of organic gardening, and the joys of working with one's hands in the fresh air.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

In the spring of 2017, student Spencer Gray '17, completed an electrification project of a lawn tractor for one the the college farms. Below is his abstract for the project.

“In June of 2016 I visited the Danish energy island Samsø. Samsø has made a remarkable transformation to a carbon neutral community through the collective effort of multiple community partners. Through a combination of large scale wind installation and solar arrays the island generates an excess of clean electricity. Through a municipality organized biomass heating plant the island has helped eliminate oil furnaces and created a commodity out of a waste crop. While there I studied how Samsø made these changes and what challenges they still face. One of these challenges is the agricultural equipment, like tractors, that the island economy depends on.

"Like the tractors of Samsø, lawn and garden equipment is a challenge that our local communities face in our transition from fossil fuel dependence. Lawn and garden equipment, like lawn tractors, emit 10% of the transportation associated emissions in the United States2 (total transportation associated emissions are equal to emissions associated with electricity production1). However, lawn tractors are good candidates for electrification since they have well defined uses and a more limited scope of use. The goal of this project was to demonstrate the viability of small electric vehicles as a replacement for conventional internal combustion engines in residential lawn tractors.

"I worked with Anna and David, the farm managers at Beech Hill Farm, to determine whether or not the needs of the farm could be met by an Electric Lawn Tractor. Following this, I selected a 1992 Bolens ST140 as the platform for the conversion. This lawn tractor was especially suitable because its tub frame and entirely steel construction allows for easy modification where needed. I removed the gasoline motor along with the gas tank and all of the original wiring. The tractor was stripped down and reworked to accommodate the new electric drive system.

"The final conversion, the Bolens ST140E, has four 12v flooded lead acid batteries that power a 10hp 20hp peak permanent magnet electric motor. The mower has an onboard 12v conversion system that allows conventional electrical accessories to be used. Fully charged, the tractor will be able to mow around 3/4 of an acre depending on grass length and slope. When not mowing, the tractor should last a day's use. Two charging profiles allow for a boost charge during the middle of the day.”


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

Graduate student Lisa Bjerke's 2017 thesis explored the best feasible practices for discarded resource management for COA. From the synopses: Humans currently use more than one-and-a-half times the amount of replenishable resources on earth, and in the United States the municipal disposal rate tripled between 1960 and 2014. Higher education institutions have a key function in addressing the resource and wastage crises, academically and practically on campuses. Using mixed-method research, this study initially answered four research questions (1) how do other higher education institutions manage their discarded resources, (2) how does COA manage its discarded resources, (3) how do different community members at COA perceive and interact with discarded resources, and (4) what factors affect discarded resource management at COA. Answers were based on a review of relevant theoretical frameworks and applicable resource management methods. COA mainly uses the conventional 3 R model of reduce, reuse, and recycle. The best feasible discarded resource management for College of the Atlantic must bring discarded resources into the visibility of the community, creating redundancy and flexibility in the management system, and facilitating an adaptive governance of its discarded resources.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

Patricio Gallardo Garcia Freire is currently (winter/spring 2018) preparing a baseline report of the "COA stream" that crosses the middle of the college's main campus. In addition to the surface hydrology of this highly managed basin, he is also compiling the infrastructure history of the drainage basin and intertidal zone in this area (culvert installation, construction of nearby buildings etc.). He will initiate a citizen science data collection site at the campus footbridge during spring term 2018.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:

In the winter 2018 Impact Investing course, taught by professor Jay Friedlander, for the final class project students divided into five groups to make recommendations for part of the available cash balance for the college's sustainable investment fund. Five competing recommendations were made, supported by a rationale for selection. The class ultimately voted to choose the winning recommendation, Pax Environmental Global Markets Fund. At the conclusion of the class, the college bought $5,000 of this fund. While the common thread of the investment recommendations was Impact Investment, the type of impact varied from saving water or saving energy to providing socially responsible management. Students from this class have been invited to continue meeting with the committee on sustainable investment to make another similar investment from the available funds.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

Completed as part of the spring 2015 Mathematics and Physics of Sustainable Energy course, a project by students Aura Silva Martinez, Graham Hallett, Morgan Heckerd, and Roman Bina focused on the logistics of establishing a solar farm on at COA’s Peggy Rockefeller Farms to provide clean energy to for local surrounding community members.

This project considered the formation, installation, and implementation of a Community Solar Farm (CSF) on Mount Desert Island, Maine. The CSF model of Solar PV production is an innovative and emerging trend in the renewable energy sector, with a variety of common practices and forms established. After researching current models, potential sites for the solar array, and recruiting members for the CSF the students proposed the site on Peggy Rockefeller Farm. They determined that a 200-panel array of 250W panels functioning at 14.7% capacity rate could be constructed on this property. This project would be implemented as a 9-member association to be formed as a for-profit Limited Liability Corporation.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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