Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.23
Liaison Heather Albert-Knopp
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2022

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Dave Feldman
Professor of Physics and Mathematics
Environmental Science
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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?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:
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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 Public Engagement?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:
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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 Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

The course Green Building Through the Lens of LEED (full description below) makes use of the campus landscape. In the Winter 2022 version of this class students looked at landscaping practices and drafted sustainable landscaping policies that will reduce carbon emissions.

Green Building Through the Lens of LEED (MD3015)

Every day, we live, work, study, eat, play, relax and sleep in buildings. Americans spend around 87% of our time inside buildings. What makes a building sustainable? This course will be an exploration of green building concepts, materials, and best practices. We will use the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process as a framework for understanding buildings, including their materials, energy use, water consumption, site location, occupant health, and interconnection with the surrounding community. LEED is the most widely used green building certification in the world, with more than 110,000 certified projects representing 24 billion square feet of building space. This course will include field trips to local building projects and/or building material producers, presentation(s) from architects or design professionals, reading core LEED materials, independent research, and group projects. Students will apply their knowledge to building projects on or off campus. Students will be evaluated based on participation in class, completion of homework assignments and group projects/presentations. Students who complete this course will be prepared for the LEED Green Associate exam and certification ($100 cost to complete certification). This course is designed for students interested in construction, design, sustainability, community planning, climate resiliency, and touches on an array of other subject areas


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:

The course Green Building Through the Lens of LEED (full description below) makes extensive use of buildings on campus. The class engages students in assessing the College's buildings and environmental impacts. In this course students have compared existing sustainability policies on campus to the LEED Operations and Maintenance criteria and made recommendations for improving campus sustainability policies and practices.

Green Building Through the Lens of LEED (MD3015)

Every day, we live, work, study, eat, play, relax and sleep in buildings. Americans spend around 87% of our time inside buildings. What makes a building sustainable? This course will be an exploration of green building concepts, materials, and best practices. We will use the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process as a framework for understanding buildings, including their materials, energy use, water consumption, site location, occupant health, and interconnection with the surrounding community. LEED is the most widely used green building certification in the world, with more than 110,000 certified projects representing 24 billion square feet of building space. This course will include field trips to local building projects and/or building material producers, presentation(s) from architects or design professionals, reading core LEED materials, independent research, and group projects. Students will apply their knowledge to building projects on or off campus. Students will be evaluated based on participation in class, completion of homework assignments and group projects/presentations. Students who complete this course will be prepared for the LEED Green Associate exam and certification ($100 cost to complete certification). This course is designed for students interested in construction, design, sustainability, community planning, climate resiliency, and touches on an array of other subject areas


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 the class Practicum in Sustainable Energy (full description below), students carry out projects in sustainable energy on COA's campus.

Practicum in Sustainable Energy (ES3090)

This is a hands-on, project-based class in which students will collaboratively plan for and participate in all aspects of renewable energy projects on College of the Atlantic’s campus. Examples of projects include installation of a solar photovoltaic array, airsealing and insulating one of the college’s buildings, or planning and installing a greenhouse heating system. Students will learn how to take a project from design through fruition while navigating the various phases of the project lifecycle including operation and maintenance. The course will begin with an overview of existing technology and an analysis of the current energy generation and consumption data for the project site(s). The class will then plan the project and present this plan to the community. As part of this planning process, students will learn about the economics of renewable energy systems, including return on investment (ROI), internal rate of return (IRR), and related quantities. Students who successfully complete this class will gain the skills necessary to conceptualize, plan for, finance, and implement renewable energy projects. Evaluation will be based on several short presentations, problem sets, and active and effective participation in all aspects of the project. Default grade is Credit/No Credit.


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 2020 students in the Anthropology of Food class (HS3079, instructor Kourtney Collum) collaborated with students in Curiosity and Wonder (AD2014, instructor Dru Colbert) on a project called "The (Un)Natural Histories of Cuisine." The instructors formed teams of students from both classes and together they selected a meal of personal or cultural significance and did a "takeover" of the college's dining hall to produce the meals for the student body, faculty, and staff during a lunch or dinner. The students also took a plaster casting of a plate containing their dish. Over the course of the term they developed an interpretive panel describing the cultural significance of the meal. The project resulted in an installation still hanging in COA's Dorr Museum of Natural History that includes a dinner table with thirteen place settings. Each place setting features the casting of the dinner plate, the interpretive panel, and an interactive element.


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:

The course Green Building Through the Lens of LEED (full description below) makes use of the campus landscape. In the Winter 2022 version of this class students looked at landscaping practices and drafted sustainable landscaping policies that will reduce carbon emissions.

Green Building Through the Lens of LEED (MD3015)

Every day, we live, work, study, eat, play, relax and sleep in buildings. Americans spend around 87% of our time inside buildings. What makes a building sustainable? This course will be an exploration of green building concepts, materials, and best practices. We will use the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process as a framework for understanding buildings, including their materials, energy use, water consumption, site location, occupant health, and interconnection with the surrounding community. LEED is the most widely used green building certification in the world, with more than 110,000 certified projects representing 24 billion square feet of building space. This course will include field trips to local building projects and/or building material producers, presentation(s) from architects or design professionals, reading core LEED materials, independent research, and group projects. Students will apply their knowledge to building projects on or off campus. Students will be evaluated based on participation in class, completion of homework assignments and group projects/presentations. Students who complete this course will be prepared for the LEED Green Associate exam and certification ($100 cost to complete certification). This course is designed for students interested in construction, design, sustainability, community planning, climate resiliency, and touches on an array of other subject areas


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

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

In the spring and summer of 2021, COA student Savier Morales completed his senior project titled "A Baseline Study as a Preliminary Step Towards Carbon-Free Transportation at College of The Atlantic." The first part of Morales's work consisted of a baseline study of emissions associated with transportation at the college. He then investigated three possible avenues to mitigate these emissions:

1. Optimizing public transportation to will meet the needs of the community and more efficiently use the lower-emission vehicles the college already has.

2. Changing COA's primary vehicle fuel type to Biodiesel as an alternative to Petroleum vehicles.

3. Transitioning COA's vehicle fleet to electric vehicles.

Based on his research, Morales recommends pursing items 1 and 3, with item 2 being a possible way to lessen environmental impact as the college completes its transition to electric vehicles. Morales included detailed cost and emissions estimates for several different transportation scenarios.


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:
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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 Water?:
Yes

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

COA faculty member Sarah Hall and her students have done extensive water testing at the college's two farms: Beech Hill Farm and Peggy Rockefeller Farm. They have sampled multiple wells at each farm, testing for radon and arsenic. Hall and students found that there is some arsenic present in the water at Peggy Rockefeller Farm, but that the levels are below the state limit of 10ppb.

Water data from this work was used in two of Hall's classes: Geology and Humanity (ES1042); and Topics in Research: Geoscience and Geochemistry (ES4061).


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 Campus Committee for Sustainability (CCS) is primarily responsible for assessing all aspects of existing and planned campus conditions to determine the most efficient and effective ways to develop a more sustainable campus. The CCS is also charged with monitoring, and, if necessary, revising the college's Energy Framework, its plan for achieving a fossil-fuel free campus.

Students play a large role in the CCS. The majority of CCS members are students, and a student serves as the CCS chair. This thus gives students experience planning and coordinating campus sustainability efforts.


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:

Students in the course Active Optimism (HS5057, Instructor: Kourtney Collum) carry out projects aimed at improving aspects of the college. One team of students developed a proposal for a community fridge: a shared refrigerator into which the dining hall (and college community members) could put left-over food. This food is then available free for students. The community fridge was proposed as a way to address food insecurity among students. The fridge went online in the fall of 2021 and has been heavily used by students.

Activism Optimism (HS5057)

In Beginning to End Hunger M. Jahi Chappell quotes the Brazilian sociologist Herbert Jose “Betinho” de Souza, who said “I’m not some stupid optimist. I’m an active optimist.” Chappell goes on to argue that active optimism—the notion that problems can be solved if we act on them with critical knowledge—is precisely what is needed to end hunger. This course will embrace the practice of active optimism by engaging students in place-based efforts to address food systems issues at COA. In this advanced course, students will form project teams and work collaboratively to build on on-going campus food systems initiatives. During week one of the course, students will select project teams and work with the instructor to develop a reading list and schedule tailored to the groups’ needs. Thereafter, class time will be dedicated to discussing readings, developing and peer-reviewing research plans and materials, presenting progress-reports, collecting and analyzing data, and facilitating community input and outreach activities. Depending on their project, students may focus more or less on data collection and analysis, policy development, or program implementation. Students will be evaluated based on their participation (including self-directedness and professionalism), the quality of the processes and outputs of their projects, and their ability to work collaboratively with classmates and the campus-community (in particular, community-partners including COA’s dining managers, farm managers, Food Systems Working Group, and the Cabinet).


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:

Students in the course Active Optimism (HS5057, Instructor: Kourtney Collum) carry out projects aimed at improving aspects of the college. One team of students explored the possibility of participatory budgeting at the college, as opposed to the largely top-down approach currently used.

Activism Optimism (HS5057)

In Beginning to End Hunger M. Jahi Chappell quotes the Brazilian sociologist Herbert Jose “Betinho” de Souza, who said “I’m not some stupid optimist. I’m an active optimist.” Chappell goes on to argue that active optimism—the notion that problems can be solved if we act on them with critical knowledge—is precisely what is needed to end hunger. This course will embrace the practice of active optimism by engaging students in place-based efforts to address food systems issues at COA. In this advanced course, students will form project teams and work collaboratively to build on on-going campus food systems initiatives. During week one of the course, students will select project teams and work with the instructor to develop a reading list and schedule tailored to the groups’ needs. Thereafter, class time will be dedicated to discussing readings, developing and peer-reviewing research plans and materials, presenting progress-reports, collecting and analyzing data, and facilitating community input and outreach activities. Depending on their project, students may focus more or less on data collection and analysis, policy development, or program implementation. Students will be evaluated based on their participation (including self-directedness and professionalism), the quality of the processes and outputs of their projects, and their ability to work collaboratively with classmates and the campus-community (in particular, community-partners including COA’s dining managers, farm managers, Food Systems Working Group, and the Cabinet).


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:

Students in the course Active Optimism (HS5057, Instructor: Kourtney Collum) carry out projects aimed at improving aspects of the college. One team of students researched the college's workstudy system, analyzed workstudy wages in light of the local cost of living, and advocated for increasing workstudy wages,

Activism Optimism (HS5057)

In Beginning to End Hunger M. Jahi Chappell quotes the Brazilian sociologist Herbert Jose “Betinho” de Souza, who said “I’m not some stupid optimist. I’m an active optimist.” Chappell goes on to argue that active optimism—the notion that problems can be solved if we act on them with critical knowledge—is precisely what is needed to end hunger. This course will embrace the practice of active optimism by engaging students in place-based efforts to address food systems issues at COA. In this advanced course, students will form project teams and work collaboratively to build on on-going campus food systems initiatives. During week one of the course, students will select project teams and work with the instructor to develop a reading list and schedule tailored to the groups’ needs. Thereafter, class time will be dedicated to discussing readings, developing and peer-reviewing research plans and materials, presenting progress-reports, collecting and analyzing data, and facilitating community input and outreach activities. Depending on their project, students may focus more or less on data collection and analysis, policy development, or program implementation. Students will be evaluated based on their participation (including self-directedness and professionalism), the quality of the processes and outputs of their projects, and their ability to work collaboratively with classmates and the campus-community (in particular, community-partners including COA’s dining managers, farm managers, Food Systems Working Group, and the Cabinet).


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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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.