Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.19
Liaison Ian Johnson
Submission Date July 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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
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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:

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.


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:

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.


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:

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.


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:

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.


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:

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.


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

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.


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:

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.


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:

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.


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:

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.


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

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.


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

The Office of Sustainability Interns have used the campus as a living laboratory 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.


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:

The Office of Sustainability Interns used campus as a living laboratory for Investment while collecting data for STARS. Students in the Investment subcommittee of the campus sustainability council also have engaged with the Board of Trustees to advocate for sustainable investment. 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 published a document in the Spring of 2016 which is a guideline for proxy voting at CC available to the entire campus community and is working on publishing written guidelines for sustainable investing.


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:

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.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
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 Wellbeing & 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.


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)?:
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 other areas:

Sense of Place programming has been successfully implemented into New Student Orientation. This is designed to help educate new students about various aspects of sustainability on campus including water, food, energy, buildings, landscape, etc. Sense of Place trips are also carried out throughout the year to strengthen student and faculty relationships with their surrounding environment. Faculty are encouraged to implement Sense of Place principles into courses as well.

Senior Colleen Orr wrote and presented her thesis to both students at Colorado College and at the AASHE national conference regarding nitrogen footprinting and the positive outcomes in calculating the college's nitrogen footprint. Starting fall of 2017, the Greenhouse Gas Inventory Intern will be calculating the college's nitrogen footprint along with the carbon footprint.

Ben Capelin conducted a meta analysis with help from faculty Rebecca Barnes on carbon sequestration potential of soil types in the region to inform climate action planning.


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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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.