Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Aug. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Columbia University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Alison Miller
Deputy Executive Director
Earth Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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 University offers a number of programs in climate, and houses close to 100 Ph.D. level climatologists. Three examples are listed below.

The Tree Ring Lab at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory has an 'open-door' policy to visitors. The tree-ring and climate software made freely available here is one expression of Columbia's commitment to sharing knowledge with students, other scientists, and teachers.

The Lamont Atmospheric Carbon Observation Project is a research observation program made up of a network of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring stations, providing real-time and archived CO2 and meteorological data for researchers, students, the general public, and policymakers.

The Columbia Climate Center has created "Future Coast" a community-based, participatory “what if?” game that explores the implications of our possible climate-changed futures. Participants can create a voicemail that sounds as though it was recorded in 2021 or 2035 or 2048. In these voicemails, participants express how extreme weather, sea level rise, and changing ecosystems might affect their lives in the future.


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 University is engaged in the Built Environment, through its Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and the various sustainability education programs.

For example, SUMAK4119: Empirical Approaches to Building Energy Assessment supplements modeling and spread sheet-based approaches to energy assessment with developing students' ability to see, hear and sense how thermal and electrical energy interfaces with our social and building practices. They work with tool kits that include digital data trackers (temperature, humidity and light sensors), remote surface temperature sensors and instruments to track building insolation (the amount of sunlight that a building receives). They also develop occupant surveys and forensic techniques for deciphering legacy construction in the building envelope and building systems. They deploy open source software to assist in calculating building envelope transmissivity, alternate models for building energy inputs and other data. The focus for this work is local, on Columbia's campus, and its work compliments the more generalized building assessments already completed for many campus buildings.


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:

Courses, projects and research across all areas of energy are incorporated throughout the University. The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, the Sustainable Engineering Lab, and the Center on Global Energy Policy are all engaged in such projects with students, faculty, external partners and the general public.

Students in the 'Pedal 2 Power' project measured the energy from a stationary bike in order to bring to light how much human energy it takes to charge a battery, and also show how much energy is wasted.


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 Columbia EcoReps work with Columbia Dining to conduct plate scrapings and better the recycling stations in the dining halls. Additionally, The University champions Green Monday, an initiative that promotes green lifestyle choices one day a week with the goal of reducing individual carbon footprint and negative impact on the environment over time. Columbia was the first University in the United States to join the effort. The University hosts events such as "Dine in the Dim", as well as provides detailed sourcing information and food labels to students so that they better understand where their food comes from, and what impact it has on the environment.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
No

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:

N/A


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:

Columbia's Sustainable Leaders Network (SLN) is the University's newly created University-wide network for creating lasting sustainable culture change, as called for in Columbia's Sustainability Plan. The SLN includes designated liaisons from each of the University's schools and some administrative departments, comprised of one faculty member, one student, and one administrator. Using an endorsed set of behavior-change guidelines, SLN green team members work to improve the current practices within their respective schools.One of the areas for improvement within the SLN guidelines is purchasing, and the program currently has over 150 active participants from all over the University.


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:

Columbia is consistently adding new hybrid and electric vehicles to its fleet as older vehicles reach their end of life. Additionally, Columbia's Transportation focus team has multidisciplinary representation from students, faculty and staff, and provides an opportunity for these constituents to interact with transportation on campus in real-time, affecting measurable change to the campuses greenhouse gasses through transportation-related emissions.


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:

Columbia students are frequently interacting with Columbia's waste stream, and looking for ways to better manage it through projects and programs overseen by faculty and administrators. The 'Cup It' project was one of the first projects offered through the University's Green Fund Program, and involved using regular waste audits to inform students to how properly dispose of trash. Since then, Columbia's Environmental Stewardship office has worked with students from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), students in the SUMA Net Impact program, as well as students involved in the Sustainable Leaders Network (SLN) to collect building specific waste data and apply customized solutions.


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 Columbia Aquanauts is a student club formed to create awareness and address the issues of water scarcity and the lack of availability of safe clean drinking water. The club engages students and faculty from various disciplines at Columbia’s undergraduate and graduate schools to tackle some of the most pressing global water challenges, through research both on and off the field.

A team at the Engineering School and the Urban Design Lab is working on a research project, concentrating on developing high-performance green infrastructure to mitigate coastal zone pollution and flooding, with a focus on the Bronx River Sewershed in New York City as their living test bed. They will be creating tools to raise awareness and educate the community about its local green infrastructure. Curriculum material will also be developed for a summer high school program that will be run in conjunction with Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education.


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 Sustainability Advisory Committee and Sustainability Focus Teams, the governance structure for sustainability on campus, allow an undergraduate and graduate student to sit on the committee and participate to actively work toward creating and managing Columbia's strategic plan.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

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:

n/a


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 University has recently created a Green Revolving Fund (GRF) to help support initiatives outlined in the Sustainability Plan. Students on the Energy and GHG Focus Team will be able to observe the application of the GRF, creating the opportunity to use the campus as a living laboratory for learning about sustainable investing and returns on investment.


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 robust social media presence of the sustainability office and students allows for public engagement on campus with students to be seen as working in a living lab.


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 University has convened a Nutrition Academic Advisory Committee and Food and Nutrition Working Group, with representation from the Sustainability Office, to create a sustainability-minded set of standards for food service on campus. This committee is chaired by the Work Life Office.


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:

The Sustainable Leaders Network provides the opportunity for students, faculty and staff from across the University to bring forward new research, technologies or policies to ultimately shift the culture of the University to a more sustainable place to live and work. Anyone who is a member of the SLN can present an idea to the network and workshop it with the other members at the table.


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

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.