Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.79
Liaison Ian Johnson
Submission Date May 26, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Colorado College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ian Johnson
Sustainability Director
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Other Yes

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living labratory for air & climate while collecting data for STARS. The intern in charge of data collection conducted an interview of the HVAC/ Central Plant Supervisor and was given a tour of the heating plant facility. Furthermore, the Office of Sustainability employs a student intern to work on the college's annual greenhouse gas inventory. The intern looks at all aspects of campus to collect data related to greenhouse gas emissions and has looked into ways of implementing more efficient recording systems.
In addition, the Air: Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry class includes a student-designed laboratory/field research component related to local pollution. This year the focus was on GHG emissions related to dog waste in city parks.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Office of Sustainability interns have used campus as a living laboratory for buildings while collecting data for STARS and in other projects. Through communication with CC's Campus Planner, interns have learned about building operation and maintenance, design and construction, and indoor air quality. Interns are working with faculty in the GreenLabs project, which aims to improve energy efficiency in labs on campus. Additionally, members of Campus Sustainability Council including interns and students wrote a petition to advocate for a carbon-neutral library design. These students were exposed to carbon neutrality on a large scale and were able to influence the college's decision to build a high-energy efficiency building.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

A group of students funded by an EcoGrant are undertaking an audit of local, sustainable and ethical food on campus. Using the framework provided by the Real Food Calculator, the students systematically analyzed the quality of the various products being purchased and generated quantitative data based on local, ecological, fair trade, and humane expenditures. In addition, the Office of Sustainability interns met with Bon Appetit staff in order to collect data for STARS. Further, the Food and Social Justice course includes independent projects exploring food on campus and in the community.
Finally, the Human Impacts on Biogeochemical Cycles course in the environmental program conducted a nitrogen footprint calculation for the college, including impacts related to food.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability Interns have used the campus as a living laboratory for energy while collecting data for STARS. Through meeting with the College's Campus Energy Manager, interns learned the ins and outs of energy on campus and were able to evaluate the strengths of shortcomings. In the Intro to Geodesign course, students undertook campus-based geodesign projects that identify opportunities for renewable energy placement. Additionally, the large number of solar arrays on campus provide a learning opportunity to members of the community who see them and are able to inquire about renewable energy. There are real-time energy dashboards located in the Worner Student Center which display the campus' energy use minute by minute. These dashboards provide information for students to see and further inquire about.
In addition, the Energy: Environmental Energetics and Thermodynamics course works with a local nonprofit to conduct an energy audit and retrofit for a low-income house in the community.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students enrolled in courses such as Nature & Spirit -Science & Religion, Environmental Stewardship & Spirituality, and Conservation Biology & Spirituality have studied ecology through South Crestone Creek at CC's Baca campus. First year student orientation groups have and will continue to participate in stewardship efforts at the Baca Campus through native planting activities etc. In addition, two interns from the Office of Sustainability have been collaborating with faculty and facilities staff to improve the prioritization of sustainability in campus landscaping. In addition, the Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living laboratory for grounds while meeting with the Grounds Crew to discuss campus landscaping. In the Intro to Geodesign, students undertook campus-based geodesign projects that identify opportunities for xeric landscaping and/or vegetable gardens, together with plant communities that provide habitats for pollinators, birds, and small mammals. Finally, in applying for the Tree Campus USA program, students and interns in the Office of Sustainability have been researching tree count, tree type, and tree health on the Colorado College campus.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living labratory for purchasing while collecting data for STARS. By communicating with members of the Purchasing Department, interns have been briefed on the purchasing policies and procedures adapted by the College and have been able to see opportunities to improve.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living labratory for transportation while collecting data for STARS. By communicating with representatives of the Transportation Department, interns have gathered insight on the campus's use of sustainable transportation and have been able to determine areas in which the campus can improve. Additionally, the Veggie Van provides a learning experience for students involved with the Outdoor Recreation Club. The ORC takes the Veggie Van on trips in Colorado and these students are exposed to a vegetable-oil powered vehicle providing alternative transportation. The CC Bike Share is new at Colorado College and with the addition of this as well as CC's certification as a Bicycle Friendly University, students have been exposed to biking at Colorado College. The introduction of the bike share has allowed all students to have the option to bike at a low cost and learn about the feasibility of biking at CC.
Further, student members of Campus Sustainability Council recently conducted an audit of the carbon emissions related to transportation for field study in the environmental program. The environmental program is undertaking a project to reduce and potentially offset carbon emissions from field study with support from Campus Sustainability Council. In addition, students in the Human Impacts on Biogeochemical Cycles included transportation in their nitrogen footprint calculations for the college.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living laboratory for waste while collecting data for STARS. Additionally, the new waste-receptacles in the Worner Student Center have signage displaying waste streams with a Leave No Trace logo on the centers. These receptacles provide a learning opportunity to all students about recycling and compost and has led to an increased diversion rate from the landfill. Student activism surrounding Recyclemania also provides an opportunity for educating the student body about waste diversion for the college.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living laboratory for water while collecting data for STARS, and in other projects. The Building and Grounds intern is working on a project to increase xeric gardening across campus and conserve water. In addition, in the Intro to Geodesign course, students students undertook campus-based geodesign projects that identify opportunities for water conservation and xeric gardens. Further, Monument Creek (which runs through campus) is used to study urban water quality in a number of courses, including Physical Geology and Biogeochemistry of Watersheds.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability Interns used campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance while collecting data for STARS. In the Intro to Geodesign course, students submitted projects related to landscaping and energy on campus to the Campus Master Plan architects, as a means to communicate student-developed sustainability aspirations to the designers. Further, a number of students serve on the Campus Sustainability Council, which has developed a Sustainability Action Plan to address broad planning and governance goals.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability Interns have used the campus as a living labratory for Diversity & Affordability while collecting data for STARS. The Butler Center provides cultural competency and sensitivity training around issues of diversity at Colorado College. The college held an assembly in the fall of 2015 to talk about diversity on campus and the lack of an inclusive atmosphere. As a result of this assembly, multiple focus groups and action groups have arisen to address the inclusivity of the CC community. This inclusivity goes beyond just looking at the number of students of color but gets to the root of diversity at CC. For instance, students in the Documentary Film-making course in Fall 2015 made short films about the controversy surrounding race and diversity at Colorado College. In addition, a student is conducting their thesis research looking at diversity and inclusion at Colorado College.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability Interns have used campus as a living labratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work while collecting data for STARS. Further, the Environmental Education semester at the Catamount Center includes a component of reflection relating to health and wellness and students' personal relationship to their environment. The Wellness Center redesigned its office for the fall of 2015. It now includes a corner for crafting and more space to play as this is integral to mental health. Students can learn from the seminars provided by the Wellness Center or from spending time in the office space.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability Interns used campus as a living laboratory for Investment while collecting data for STARS. Students in the Divestment group also have engaged with the Board of Trustees to advocate for sustainable investment. In the fall of 2015, a sustainable investment subcommittee to the Campus Sustainability Council was formed. This subcommittee is made up of students and staff and is researching the feasibility of sustainable investment, initiating a trend towards sustainable investment at CC, and investigating proxy voting. The subcommittee will publish a document in the Spring of 2016 which is a guideline for proxy voting at CC available to the entire campus community.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Office of Sustainability interns have used the campus as a living laboratory for public engagement while collecting data for STARS. Further, student groups are working on programs to improve engagement in the broader community, including projects addressing food justice, arts for social change, and youth engagement. The Community for Collaborative Engagement has multiple projects to engage local community groups and disadvantaged populations. The Soup Project was a competition during the 2015 school year to better address homelessness in Colorado Springs and provide an alternative to CC's soup kitchen. This competition was a learning experience for much of the CC community and resulted in real projects attempting to address these issues. These programs, including GRITS, a zine produced in collaboration with community members focused on issues of homelessness, received funding and began in fall of 2015. In addition, a film student made a documentary for their thesis focusing on the Meadows Park community center in Colorado Springs. Finally, students in the environmental education TREE semester develop relationships with groups of fifth grade students in local elementary schools, conducting projects related to environmental science at the Catamount Center near Woodland Park, CO.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

An intern in the Office of Sustainability presented to the incoming class of 2018 during orientation about sense of place. The presentation was designed to educate new students about various aspects of sustainability on campus, including water, food, energy, buildings, landscape, etc. Sense of Place programming has continued throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, including trips to learn about local cultural history and water use.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.