Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.13
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Nov. 7, 2022

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Mary Liang
Assistant Director of Sustainability
Housing and Dining Services
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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?:
Yes

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

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-led 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.

Campus tours and the campus map also highlight pollinator-friendly gardens across the University, providing an opportunity for prospective and current students, campus visitors, and alumni an opportunity to learn more about supporting pollinators, including bee hotels for native bee species. maps.colostate.edu (select Sustainability and then Pollinators in the menu).


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability 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. Each semester, the CPD selects 15-20 CSU students to become trained facilitators. The students enroll in the 3-credit course Applied Deliberative Techniques to learn all of the skills needed to manage effective and meaningful conversations. Following this course, students enroll in a practicum where they facilitate community events, collaborate on research projects and public relations, as well as manage community engagement and conflict. 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.

The CPD works with its community partners to host 4-8 events each semester. For example, in 2020, the CPD collaborated with the City of Fort Collins, along with various community partners, to work on the Home2Health project. This project aims to update policies, codes, and regulations to improve housing affordability with a specific emphasis on health equity.

The CPD has 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 discuss issues that matter to them, such as land code regulations with single homes, neighborhoods with apartments, and business spaces; and meetings with the Platte River Power Authority on how to best pursue a non-carbon energy future.

For more information: https://cpd.colostate.edu/community-projects/reports/


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:

Researchers and graduate students at CSU operate the Methane Emissions Test and Evaluation Center (METEC) on the CSU Foothills Campus. The METEC facility, initially constructed in 2016, has developed into the leading location to test leak detection solutions, gas pipeline leaks and emissions, and a range of other natural gas related emissions work. One ongoing project is developing safety guidance for first responders during pipeline incidents, which also contributes to superior methods for finding, measuring, and fixing pipeline leaks. Other projects are advancing development of emissions detection solutions, working toward broad deployment on oil and gas infrastructure. Widespread adoption of these methods could have order-of-magnitude impact on methane emissions. The METEC group includes five research scientists and numerous graduate students, under the guidance of principal investigator Daniel Zimmerle of the Energy Institute. The center employs undergraduate and graduate researchers, who hands-on research experience at METEC by gathering data, operating the drones and other equipment, and reporting on the findings of the project.

Recent studies of oil and gas (O&G) emissions indicate widespread disagreement on air emissions between top-down measurements made by aircraft or satellites and emissions reported by companies using standard reporting methods. To address this disagreement, researchers, and graduate students in the METEC group are working with other universities to develop a new generation of software to simulate and analyze emissions. First application of the software will compare multiple measurements of the Denver-Julesberg O&G production basin in northeastern Colorado.


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:

In 2020, CSU’s College of Liberal Arts Dean contacted the Institute for the Built Environment (IBE), an interdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and off-campus professionals, to undergo a stakeholder building design charrette ahead of a funding opportunity for the extensive renovation and remodeling of the Clark Building. Built in 1968, the building’s 255,000 square feet footprint is the home of ten departments across two colleges. The Clark Building is one of the most heavily used academic building on main campus, and IBE facilitated a visioning workshop with 12 students and alums and 38 faculty and staff members to gather feedback on the renovation project. Furthermore, IBE distributed a questionnaire to students and staff unable to participate in the charrette, with sustainability questions including how to best preserve the building’s history, and how to integrate sustainability in the design and construction process. Two IBE interns from the College of Health and Human Sciences were also involved in this project.

By engaging students in a real-life building renovation process, students gained hands-on learning and transferable skills. Interns and students learned how to conduct a stakeholder-enhanced sustainability charrette, while integrating and prioritizing various sustainability requests into a single report to the college. Examples of the sustainability initiatives that resulted from the charrette include renewable energy ideas, conservation of water resources, highlighting cultural and historical elements, and creating healthy classrooms with daylighting. The report has formed the basis for the architectural team that has now begun the extensive planning and design process.


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:

Many communities in the developing world have no – or poor – access to electricity. Lack of electricity impedes development and forces residents to rely on air-polluting diesel engines for limited electricity supplies. A research team, consisting of CSU students and staff from the CSU Energy Institute, are working on a range of solutions that will reduce the cost of electricity access in the developing world. A recent study assessed electric pressure cookers for possible use in rural areas. A shift to electric cookers reduces stress on forests for wood fuel and improves local air quality. Another study developed innovative artificial intelligence methods for interconnecting villages to reduce microgrid development costs.


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:

Housing and Dining Services (HDS), along with CSU Facilities and students from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability collaborate to calculate the nitrogen footprint of HDS’s food and drink procurement as well as identify ways to reduce that footprint. Students use this year-long project to request information, analyze data within a complex nitrogen calculator, and present findings and recommendations to leadership in HDS. CSU Facilities also uses this information as part of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Positive outcomes for campus have included tangible changes in the HDS procurement process, as well as a detailed, more mindful procurement strategy of future purchases that have a high nitrogen footprint, including meat and dairy products. Students have also coordinated with the Student Sustainability Center to work on a student behavior campaign to better educate diners on their choice of food, encouraging students to choose diets with smaller nitrogen footprints.


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:

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 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:

CSU Senior Engineering Capstone projects design transportation infrastructure improvements that increase capacity, improve safety, and yield grant funding. 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. The following projects have been completed in the past three years:

1. Library Bike Roundabout – Constructed in 2021, CSU’s first bike roundabout was designed and tested through the capstone program. Senior engineers designed the roundabout, surveyed students, and set up a pilot version of the roundabout with traffic cones and rope to demonstrate its effectiveness to improve safety and, ultimately, induce demand.

2. Phemister Trail – Senior Engineers designed the trail and bridge project connecting the City of Fort Collins Garden’s on Spring Creek through CSU’s Horticultural Center to the Prospect Underpass. This path is heavily traveled by students and other commuters to campus.

3. Rampart Trail – This capstone project evaluated the siting of a trail along Rampart Road on CSU's Foothills campus. The trail was constructed in 2021 supported by the design work.

4. Plum and Meridian Roundabout – Senior Engineers designed a roundabout with considerations for circulation and utility constraints. The project has been incorporated into the West Elizabeth Bus Rapid Transit Corridor, and 30% of the design will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration for Small Starts grant consideration.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

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

In Fall 2022, a group of students from the Civil Engineering Senior Design Principles (CIVE402) class completed a design project to identify a viable solution to compost at CSU’s Mountain Campus, located 50 miles west of main campus, nestled in the mountain valley of the Rocky Mountains. The course, which focuses on how to transition an idea to a professional engineering setting, challenged students to design a composting facility capable of holding approximately 900 pounds of compostable materials each week from the dining hall, while deterring bears, and evaluating the possible end-uses for the finished compost. A composting facility has never been installed at the Mountain Campus; post-consumer composting is currently hauled down from the campus to main campus at the end of each week. An on-site composting facility also addresses the emissions from this weekly transportation trip.


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

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

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

The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) and USGBC’s Center for Green Schools is currently collaborating in a nearly 2-year project on health indicators in hundreds of K-12 schools across the nation. IBE and the Center for Green School student interns are analyzing whether K-12 schools who achieved LEED credits focused on enhanced indoor air quality have had higher attendance rates and lower reported student illness rates during the COVID pandemic, compared to schools not LEED certified, and LEED certified schools who did not pursue the indoor air quality credits. The research funding organization hopes to publish the study results in 2022. This coordinated research effort between IBE and the Center for Green Schools combine student and faculty experts in environmental health and building science with K-12 school experts and provides an excellent opportunity to explore the intersectionality of healthy, sustainable buildings and human health.


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:

In Spring 2022, graduate students from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition reached out to the CSU Food Pantry, requesting to complete an on-campus, impactful, service-learning project. Michael Buttram, CSU's Basic Needs Manager, presented a case study and expressed concern that some Pantry clients do not have access to healthy food products due to a language barrier or food product unfamiliarity. This may lead to additional food waste of certain foods, as well as exclusion of different ethno-social groups from the Pantry. As part of the service-learning project, the students identified methods to increase approachability of the food pantry products by creating food and recipe cards, to be displayed directly next to food products. Food cards featured a food description, space for clients to write the name of the food in their language, and a QR code linking clients to a recipe in the hopes that these elements will help clients feel more familiar with the food. Recipe cards included an ingredient list, and QR code to a full recipe online.

The Pantry piloted the distribution of food and recipe cards for two-weeks over the Spring semester, and was seen as a mild success. Through the creation and distribution of surveys, students and staff saw interaction with the food cards, and clients taking recipe cards viewing them on the website. These surveys also provided helpful observations to the Pantry including the popularity of certain food items, and request for more healthy children-friendly food items, and healthy dessert items. The Pantry aims to continue to provide food and recipe cards, while observing how clients interact with these cards, to hopefully encourage a more diverse audience to visit the Pantry for health food options.


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:

The Summit Fund is a student-run investment portfolio in the College of Business. The fund’s educational goal is to enrich the student’s education by linking academic coursework with professional experience in managing an actual investment fund. In FIN486 Summit Investment Fund Practicum, students are taught how to manage The Summit Fund using different criteria, such as ESG principals. 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 is the hands-on project tied to FIN 486 in the College of Business.

The Summit Fund’s approach to sustainable investing practices has led to positive outcomes with the CSU Foundation in its drafting of a new sustainable investment policy. The faculty advisor and students managing the Summit Fund are representatives on the Committee for Investor Responsibility and present their fund performance and ESG recommendations to the Foundation Board annually. Finally, any financial gains made from the Summit Fund help fund future student scholarships.


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:

CSU’s Foothills Campus, located approximately five miles west of main campus, lacks a recreational center. During academic year 2021-2022, students in the Civil Engineering Senior Design Principals (CIVE402) course designed and presented the Dixon Canal Trail Redesign. This redesign addresses the wellness concerns from CSU’s Foothills Campus employees on the lack of recreational opportunities in the area, as well as produced an ADA-accessible trail, with an adjoining single track mountain bike trail, two spur locations to allow community access, and a trailhead to promote the nature area use. Students from this course spent a year designing and presenting solutions including a 110 foot long bridge, 1.5 miles of a blue-level ranked mountain biking trail, and trailhead amenities including way-finding signage and a restroom enclosure. This project creates a safe and enjoyable multipurpose trail along the current existing alignment that promotes community accessibility. Projects like these continue to build community, provide recreational opportunities, and ensure physical connections between CSU’s various campuses.


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.