Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.29
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date March 23, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Colorado State University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Nik Olsen
Assistant Director of Administrative Communications
Office of the President
"---" 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 No
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 Changing Climates Initiative at CSU aims to provide the CSU community with up-to-date information on climate change. This includes coordinating information with both faculty and students involved in climate at CSU. Many of the courses highlighted include class projects on local climate change (Atmospheric Science 400: Climates of Colorado). For example, there is a class-based research project currently underway which uses individual air-quality monitoring equipment to track individual exposure for students as they move across campus and the broader community. This is linked back to curriculum on pollution, air quality, etc.

Positive outcomes from the Changing Climates initiative, and the many courses represented there, include greater understanding among students of local climate change. http://changingclimates.colostate.edu/about.html


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:

Summit Hall, a student residence hall on campus, has successfully achieved LEED Gold for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance, a process that engaged residents and staff for the past three years. Graduate students with the Institute for the Built Environment and Residence Life worked with professional staff on project design and implementation with associated PhD and Masters level projects.

The Natural Resources and Sustainability Learning Community in Summit Hall has a required seminar called "Natural Resources in Action" that was engaged over the course of several semesters in the LEED EBOM project including participation in a waste audit and a commuting survey and presentations be IBE graduate students on the process.

The CSU Institute for the Built Environment has the explicit goal of using on-campus and local community projects, combined with innovative curriculum, to train students in Sustainable Building Practices.

A positive outcome on campus has been a greater understanding of the LEED for Existing Buildings process (this was the first such project on campus). The project also had a very positive outcome engaging residents in Summit Hall via the waste audit, alternative transportation survey, presentations, and programs with the Natural Resources & Sustainability Learning Community in the hall.


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:

The on-campus restaurant Aspen Grille is run in conjunction with the Food and Nutrition Sciences Department and the Hospitality Department. Students combine curriculum and class projects with this unique learning environment to explore topics in sustainable food and dining.

Positive outcomes for campus include greater understanding among students of the real-life challenges and rewards of operating a sustainable restaurant. The campus community also benefits from having an on-campus restaurant that serves local menu items.

Housing and Dining Services also has an ongoing student-learning laboratory where students learn about food waste reduction through direct contact with the composting and waste-to-energy programs at CSU. Multiple classes each year utilize the in-vessel composting system as a living laboratory, conducting soil samples, making recommendations about recipe mixes, and exploring expansion opportunities.


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:

Sociology 460, Society and Environment, is a course that helps students understand and use sociological principles, concepts, and theories to examine social and
environmental issues, and also to understand and evaluate the application of sociological methods to social behavior and issues, focusing on how application relates to human-environment interactions. The course includes specific course projects which combine CSU's own Center for the New Energy Economy and student involvement in those lobbying efforts related to sustainable energy. The projects include reports and class discussions of CSU's Energy Lobbying efforts to help students better understand policy and decision making.

Students also participate in data collection and analysis at CSU's prospective Wind Power site. In the last couple of years, students in the Mechanical Engineering department partnered with Juwi Wind to install the tower and they now conduct the data analysis on the site, which will hopefully become a full wind power plant.


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:

The Institute for the Built Environment at CSU, part of the College of Health and Human Sciences, has courses and student elective projects which train students on sustainable site evaluation using the campus and local projects as the study area.

One specific example is a partnership between CSU's Institute for the Built Environment, the Colorado Rockies baseball team, and ARAMARK, the Rockies' exclusive food and beverage vendor. CSU students helped build the The GaRden at Coors Stadium, which provides herbs and vegetables for ARAMARK to use in Coors Field's Mountain Ranch Club. Institute for Built Environment engaged CSU students in sustainable landscape design, organic horticulture, farm-to-table implementation, and applied sustainability practices. The GaRden was in full operation this summer with a harvest in September.

The Athletics Department also uses graduate students to evaluate and study turf on campus. This often becomes a dissertation/thesis project.


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:

Purchasing includes students in some of its special committees including the sustainable purchasing committee which implemented the most recent round of green purchasing policies, such as minimum recycled paper content guidelines.

Students help put together the Green Purchasing Fair held each year at CSU as a way to connect classroom learning around purchasing policy and implementation to a real-world application.


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:

Many classes at CSU have used the campus to explore aspects of sustainable transportation. One such example is Ray Browning, a Department of Health and Exercise Professor. His students collected data across campus on long board use and were able to have long board racks installed at strategic points to facilitate more long board commuting.

The long board racks have had a very positive outcome on campus by reducing long board thefts and also reducing wear and tear to interior spaces by giving students a secure place to keep long boards outside.


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:

Sociology 461 (Water, Society, and Environment), explores and analyzes the sociology of water and how human societies interact with and depend upon water. For the final project in this class, every student or student group must design and begin implementing a waste project on campus. This year class projects included a $100,000 budget proposal to the Facilities Student Fee Fund for more water bottle filling stations on campus, as well as a proposal to the CSU Student Senate (ASCSU) to ban plastic bags on campus.

The projects have a very positive impact on campus by engaging the student government on important waste minimization resolutions and proposals. The projects also connect classroom theory to real-world application by challenging students to identify campus solutions, research feasibility, and submit budget and/or policy proposals to implement the idea.


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:

Aspen Hall, a residence hall on campus, hosts a grey water project. The grey water use system was built in 2007 and has been used for research by College of Engineering gradate students for several years. The system was designed to use UV purification but through testing and analysis by the grad students, the system was switched to chlorine. Current student-led projects, including PhD dissertations, are exploring cost analysis for this system. This semester, Housing & Dining Services has expanded the living lab by hiring a grey water student intern to lead this project.

The grey water system has had a very positive outcome as the students in Aspen Hall have been actively engaged in the system. Student showers, sinks, and laundry rooms from the first floor provide grey water for the system, which sanitizes and returns the water to toilets in their bathrooms for flushing. The Engineering grad students who operate the system do a program to engage Summit residents each fall to explain the system and then present their data and recommendations to the students in the spring semester. A student survey and info session engage residents and large diagrams explaining the system in the model room engage the thousands of prospective students who tour Aspen Hall each year.


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 CSU Community College Leadership program is an academic unit with a wide variety of leadership courses. Among them are EDCL 750 and EDCL 751, Simulated Presidential Cabinet I and II. Both use real models of University governance and administration to simulate and explore issues in coordination, planning, and administration. EDCL 750 focuses on issues and challenges relating to students, faculty, instructional programs, noninstructional programs, and instructional delivery. And EDCL 751 focuses on issues and challenges relating to internal/external governances, legal authority, institutional revenues, expenditures and insurances, and human resources.


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:
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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 Food Science and Exercise department regularly uses CSU students to design and/or participate in local studies for health and well being. In the past three years these have included student-based research on bicycle emission exposure for CSU commuters, the effects of hookah on respiratory health, and ADHD/ADD studies on student attention and concentration. Through a number of classes and research courses, students at CSU have a number of opportunities to participate in or design their own student project on health and wellness.

The student projects have a very positive outcome on both the campus community, who benefits from the research, but also the students who gain valuable research skills as undergraduate students.


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 Summit Fund is a student run Investment portfolio whose goal is to enrich students' educational experience by bridging academic coursework with professional experience in managing an actual investment fund. In six of the past 10 years, the Summit Fund portfolio has beaten the S&P 500 index. In 2013 alone, the portfolio returned over three percent above the S&P 500 index. Management of the Summit Fund is directly tied to coursework as students must complete Finance 355 (Principles of Investment: Modern Investment Theory) as a prerequisite.


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 CSU Center for Public Deliberation guides students in specific research/academic projects in the area of coordination, planning, and governance.

For example, at the University of Northern Colorado LEAP summit (2014), CPD students will run a two hour session on mental health issues tied to the National Conversation on Mental Health that was launched in June by President Obama.

CPD students assisted with forums on Amendment 66 - school taxation - in Golden Colorado on Oct. 15 and on local food issues in Steamboat Springs on Oct. 17.

By empowering students to lead and engage discussions like this, CSU helps prepare students for meaningful deliberation in their future careers and the campus community benefits by having a center focused on guiding and engaging everyone on difficult and controversial topics in a healthy and meaningful way.


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:

Behavior change: CSU works hard to support sustainability at the University and this includes encouraging sustainable behaviors among students and employees. The Caros Consulting Group is an in-house enterprise launched in 2006 with a goal of studying sustainable behaviors. Led by a professor of Sociology, the center uses student researchers and specific classes to lead research on campus exploring sustainable behavior.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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