Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.14
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Tonie Miyamoto
Director of Communications and Sustainability
Housing and Dining Services
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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:

Researchers and graduate students at CSU are completing work on a $3.5 million award from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) program to design, build, and operate a facility on the CSU Foothills Campus that simulates natural gas production sites under real-world industry conditions. The Methane Emissions Test and Evaluation Center (METEC) is being used to test the performance of low-cost methane sensing technologies, including drones, for locating and characterizing leakages from equipment both above and below ground. Methane, the main constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas. Existing methane monitoring devices have limited ability to cost-effectively, consistently, and precisely locate and quantify the rate of a leak. Some of the solutions identified by the project so far are the equivalent of a $20,000 instrument reduced to a $500 package. Under the guidance of principal investigator Dan Zimmerle of the Energy Institute, graduate students have the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience at METEC by gathering data, operating the drones and other equipment, and reporting on the findings of the project.


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:

The Michael Smith Natural Resources Building addition, completed and open for the fall semester in Fall 2018, achieved LEED Silver for New Construction building. It serves as an interdisciplinary research and academic facility for Colorado State University's Warner College of Natural Resources.

In Spring 2017, the project team welcomed the Institute for the Built Environment (IBE), an interdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and off-campus professionals who take research to practice, to facilitate the green building process and assist with LEED management. Five IBE students worked on the design and green building features of the project, while students from the College of Natural Resources participated in a 2-day charrette of their goals and vision of the building atrium.

By engaging students in a real-life construction and LEED process, there was a valuable opportunity for hands-on learning and transferable skills. Students researched and learned the new criteria of LEED New Building certification, as well as representing and identifying student needs in an academic building. One feature of this new building addition is the "treehouses," small classrooms with large garage doors that open to the adjacent Sherwood Forest, allowing students to experience nature while learning about nature.


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:

In FY18, students and staff at the Energy Institute undertook a study of transforming the energy infrastructure at the CSU Mountain Campus to more sustainable options. The study included four scenarios with a combination of solar, wind and storage. The findings of the study were summarized in a white paper "Optimization of Performance and Life Cycle Cost for a Hybrid Renewable Energy System at Colorado State University's Mountain Campus" which provides a blueprint to expand renewable energy options on this campus.


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:

The on-campus restaurant Aspen Grille is run by students 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 & 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. One such expansion that was proposed by a student who was serving as the ASCSU Director of Environmental Affairs, was to create a windrow composting operation that came online in Spring of 2017. This creates more student learning opportunities. For example, the instructor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and her students created a two-day compost pilot project with Lory Student Center-managed restaurants, LSC catering and coffee shops in the LSC, Behavioral Sciences Building and Morgan Library. The project targeted “back-of-the-house” composting, which means food waste from kitchen, restaurant, and catering preparation.


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:

Housing & Dining Services has invested in a state of the art, fully-automated composting system called the Earth Flow (affectionately known as Oscar). This enclosed, 30-yard capacity in-vessel composter is located on the CSU Foothills Campus (three miles west of the main campus). Pre-consumer food waste from CSU Dining Centers is composted in the Earth Flow. Post-consumer food waste is composted through the windrow composting operation which is also located at the CSU Foothills campus. These programs have cumulatively diverted over 3 million pounds of food waste since their conception. Materials produced are used by student gardens, donated to community non-profit organizations, and used as a soil amendment for construction and landscaping projects on campus.

These two systems operate as a living lab with student interns from Soil & Crop Sciences loading materials, taking measurements, and making recommendations for the recipe and operational improvements. A faculty advisor in the College of Agriculture serves as a member of the Compost Team and selects the interns each semester. The Compost Operator provides hands-on instruction on-site and the Assistant Director of Sustainability for Housing & Dining Services supervises the interns.


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 Spoke is Colorado State University’s on-campus cycling repair and maintenance education training center servicing our University students, faculty, and staff. The university’s living lab empowers the student mechanics to manage the business operations and purchasing needs of the bike shop. The student mechanics must track sales and transactions, maintain cash register receipts, and submit orders for supplies and materials to keep The Spoke stocked. Student mechanics manage orders for brake pads, tubes, u-locks, tools, helmets, and pouches repurposed from used bike tubes. The Spoke actively purchases ULocks and cables (the biggest selling items) from a local company called Rocky Mounts in Boulder. For all other products, The Spoke buys from two distributors who have facilities in Colorado (Denver and Aurora), so we try to minimize our movement of freight out of companies who have a distribution center within 60 miles of our location. This real-world purchasing experience helps the students prepare for future careers and gives them an opportunity at the end of each semester to reflect on the shop's success, as well as make recommendations for the next semester.


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:

At CSU senior engineering students conduct design projects for transportation infrastructure improvements. The Engineering Capstone Projects demonstrate how the design of safe and abundant bicycle trails/lanes will help shift commuter behavior away from Single Occupancy Vehicles on campus. Many of these projects have ultimately been constructed on campus.

Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) hires a number of students to help with transportation data collection, hands-on transportation education for our campus users, and other projects as needed.

The Institute for the Built Environment has a number of classes each year that require collective class projects to complete a goal. These projects have focused on and off the CSU campus.


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:

Each March as part of RecycleMania, CSU conducts a Waste Audit on the Lory Student Center plaza to sort one day's worth of trash from the residence halls on campus. ASCSU student government, Student Sustainability Center, Eco Leaders, and several classes participate in the audit as a real-world example. Trash, recyclables, compost, and items that can be reused are sorted by hand and weighed. Students then break that data down to determine what percentage of the waste stream on campus could have been recycled, composted, or reused.

The data from the Waste Audit has helped inform recycling campaigns, an expansion of the compost program on campus, and information about how to reuse and/or donate unwanted items through programs like our move-out program. Students have used the data they collected from the Waste audit to write bills for student government and to submit proposals to the Housing & Dining Services Sustainability Fund.


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:

Seventeen water bottle filling stations were installed in residential and dining facilities as part of a grassroots proposal from students and staff to the Housing & Dining Services (HDS) Sustainability Fund several years ago. This initiative has only continued to expand; now there are 130 water bottle filling stations across campus due to the success of educating areas on campus on reducing the use of plastic water bottles. Each student who lives in a campus residence hall is given a reusable Nalgene bottle during move-in, with education on areas with water filling locations, and actions to reduce disposable plastic and other single-use bottles. Eco Leaders and sustainability interns are engaged in the project to help develop education and track water bottle filling station usage. Since the start of HDS's water bottle filling station installment, interns have assessed that over 780,000 disposable water bottles were avoided through these stations alone.


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 Institute for the Built Environment and the Center for Energy and Behavior, two on-campus research institutes, focus on sustainability and behaviors. Each of these centers employs undergraduate and graduate students working on energy conservation and use the city and university campus as a living laboratory. The Center for Energy and Behavior has worked on a few campus focused energy conservation programs: 1) collaborated with facilities staff to encourage campus staff to be energy conservation ambassadors in their department, 2) developed social marketing campaigns to encourage energy conservation in the residence halls, and 3) worked with graduate students to develop a software feedback system to encourage faculty and staff to shut off their computers.


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 Inclusive Physical and Virtual Campus Committee, under the direction of the Vice President for Diversity (VPD), developed a comprehensive policy (http://policylibrary.colostate.edu/policy.aspx?id=750) that requires both virtual platforms and physical facilities across campus to adopt a universal design. While campus already follows ADA guidelines and accessibility standards for the web, the universal design would expand access and opportunity across campus.

Students have been an integral part of the process. One such effort that began in 2015 was the expansion of gender-inclusive restrooms. Students in the School of Social Work, under the guidance of faculty member Marie Villescas Zamzow, participated in social action by researching and advocating for inclusivity best practices as part of a class project. The students did some research and sponsored a petition to support the expansion of single-stall, gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus. They collected hundreds of signatures to share with the CSU President and Vice President for Diversity, who connected the students with the Inclusive Physical and Virtual Campus Committee. Working together, the students and committee conducted a campus survey to gather community opinion on preferred language and symbols used to designate gender-inclusive restrooms. The survey results were used to help adopt a University-wide naming protocol and signage standard. As part of the process, Facilities Management hired two of the students to locate and audit existing restrooms with the potential to become gender-inclusive. The students identified over 260 single-stall restrooms, most of which have now been funded to be transformed in 2018-2019 to become “All Gender”. These restrooms are now labeled on the campus map at https://map.concept3d.com/?id=748#!ce/12855?ct/25059,20377,18389,13646,13645,13644,12106,9554,18543,44183,44185,44186,44187,12859.

Upon completion of the policy, CSU created accessibility guidelines and construction standards to ensure our buildings welcome commuters with amenities to reduce their need to commuter with a Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV):
• Lactation (Section 3407)
• Reflection(Section 3409)
• Showers (Section 3408)
• Breakrooms (Section 3404)
• All-Gender Bathrooms (Section 3405)
Further, the Master Plan Committee of CSU approved a geographical distribution of these facilities across campus by distance from any building on campus. In 2019, 15 additional commuter showers and 15 lactations facilities have been funded under this policy.

More information:
http://source.colostate.edu/survey-asks-for-input-on-restroom-signage-on-campus/


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 Summit Fund is a student-run investment portfolio in the College of Business whose educational goal is to enrich the student’s education by linking academic coursework with professional experience in managing an actual investment fund. The educational objectives to be achieved by students include: demonstrating the principles and procedures of professional fund management; applying current economic conditions; conducting firm level valuation based on analysis of financial statements; assessing the degree to which sustainable practices are upheld by firms to be held in the portfolio and constructing an investment portfolio consistent with the Fund’s economic analysis and investment policy statement.

The Summit Fund’s approach to sustainable investing practices has led to positive outcomes on campus by providing support for the development of similar practices by the CSU Foundation in its drafting of guiding investment principles. The faculty advisor and students managing the Summit Fund are representatives on the Committee for Investor Responsibility committee.


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 CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to work with campus, city and county governments, school districts, and community organizations to identify key community concerns and design innovative processes to better incorporate local residents into public decision making. The center works with its community partners to host 4-8 events each semester. For example, the CPD has worked with the City of Fort Collins on their climate and sustainability planning, including hosting community forums in 2018 and 2019 on the City’s Climate Action Plan and efforts to improve air quality and offering training programs so that community members can host equitable conversations on these issues within their own communities.

They have worked with the university and the city to gather community feedback on the development of long-term strategic plans and offer opportunities for a diverse range of community members to talk about issues that matter to them, such as Keep Fort Collins Great (KFCG) tax, Housing Affordability, and Outdoor Wood Burning forums in 2018. CPD students work on every facet of these processes, from facilitation to participant recruitment to process design. The CPD empowers students to take an active role in their communities while providing them with concrete career skills based in ethical and sustainable community engagement and decision making.


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 Volckens Group in the Mechanical Engineering Department at CSU (housed within the Powerhouse Campus Energy Institute) living lab aims to develop engineering solutions to solve air pollution problems that we face as a society. One project focuses on biomass cookstoves. They have found that half of our planet uses some form of a campfire or ‘cookstove’ as their primary source of energy for cooking and heating. Emissions from such primitive fires have major impacts on global air quality, human health, and climate
In 2000, the CSU Energy Institute (then known as the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory) started tackling snowmobiles and their two-stroke engines, which generate large amounts of pollution. They adapted a technology from the natural gas industry to build cleaner-running snowmobiles. The team replaced the traditional carburetor with direct, in-cylinder fuel injection and built the cleanest-running snowmobile on the market at the time. Soon thereafter, they turned their attention it to improving two-stroke engines used in pedicabs in the developing world and launched a CSU spin out company called Envirofit International to sell retrofit kits.

The company grew into producing and selling clean-burning cookstoves for people in the developing world. Envirofit International upended the conventional model of having villagers make their own cookstoves and focused on producing quality cookstoves that could be distributed to different parts of the world. Together with the CSU Energy Institute several cookstoves have been developed. Today, Envirofit International continues to develop clean cooking technologies that “cook faster while reducing fuel use, smoke, and toxic emissions.” More than 5 million people in energy poverty use Envirofit’s smart stoves.

More information:
https://energy.colostate.edu/our-expertise/energy-access-in-the-developing-world/

The CSU commuting survey revealed that one of the primary barriers for CSU faculty and staff to walk or ride their bike to work is a concern about needing to shower once they arrive on campus. Rather than treating this as solely a transportation issue, the Inclusive Physical and Virtual Campus Committee student representatives worked on the implementation of a virtual interactive map that features Inclusive Resources such as gender inclusive restrooms, lactation rooms, shower rooms, and meditation rooms to expand the awareness and availability of these wellness resources on campus more broadly. The subcommittee worked with a student intern to conduct a field study and first pass analysis building survey as a means to identify existing wellness features such as showers for bicyclists, break rooms, meditation rooms, and lactation rooms. Amenities such as these (and others) reduce the need for a car, reduce overall trips and affordability, and open up alternative transportation as a viable option for employees and students. This project also promotes inclusivity for those with diverse identities and issues that are reflected in our populations such as varying disabilities (visible as well as invisible), religious expressions, gender identity and expression, motherhood, etc. By highlighting these Inclusive Services on the main campus map (maps.colostate.edu) in a mobile and accessible fashion, the students have helped make these critical services available to the campus community. Projects like this one are part of a larger campus commitment to move to universal design standards.

More information:
http://policylibrary.colostate.edu/policy.aspx?id=750


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:

As a result of CSU becoming a Bee Campus USA institution, two beehives were installed on-campus at the Durrell Center and four hives outside the CSU Horticulture Center. These hives provide a unique living laboratory experience for the campus community and visitors. The student Apiculture Club and the CSU Honey Bee Veterinary Medicine Club manage the two hive locations and provide hands-on learning with tours, presentations, and active research projects through professors/students within the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. Another distinctive feature of this program is the opportunity for Vet students to treat hives with antibiotics if necessary and conduct check-ups on the health of the bees. The hives provide a teaching space for future veterinarians to learn about hive management and maintenance.

https://source.colostate.edu/the-buzz-new-bee-hives-coming-to-horticulture-center-in-may/
https://source.colostate.edu/students-buzzing-with-activity-in-beekeeping-bee-medicine-clubs/


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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