Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 49.09
Liaison Ali Dutton
Submission Date Aug. 22, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Florida International University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Alexandra Dutton
Program Manager
Office of University 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 institution is using the the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate by having an academic student intern from the Office of University Sustainability spend a semester assisting on the completion of the University's annual greenhouse gas emissions report. Information from the report was also used in the submission of the STARS report.


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:

Doctoral civil engineering students used the Wall of Wind lab at FIU's Engineering Campus to conduct tests on large-scale building models to test performance of building envelopes and roofing systems under various wind loads and the response of envelope components under realistic wind conditions. Conclusions derived from these experiments can help civil engineers design building that withstand realistic wind conductions more effectively.


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:

FIU and Florida Power and Light (FPL) have partnered on the construction of a 342,000-square-foot solar array will provide electricity for FPL customers (FIU included) via the electric grid located on FIU's Engineering Center. FIU Electrical and Computing Engineering students are currently gathering information which will be critical in the installation of the solar array, including historical weather data and energy production and usage patterns. The research will take Florida’s unique weather conditions into consideration and help determine the types of technology that may be needed to ensure the grid’s reliability is not negatively affected by fluctuations in solar PV production due to clouds, thunderstorms, and other variables.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
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 Food & Dining:
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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 from Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have been reviewing a section of the on-campus 11-acre Nature Preserve that has been recently cleared of invasive plant species to determine the best planting conditions and locations for native plants that are being provided through a grant. This hands-on experience will take students a step further beyond their development of a plan on paper and make it a reality benefitting the biodiversity of Nature Preserve.

Graduate students analyzed the effects of the prescribed burn on pine rockland soil health and plant composition within the institution's Nature Preserve. They investigated changes in the soil's physical, chemical, and biological properties, and changes in plant species richness, turnover (native and non-native), and canopy cover​. They determined that the prescribed burn had a positive impact in the pine rockland community.


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

In accordance with Panther Dining's steps toward sustainability plan, Panther Dining and Aramark Facilities assists the School of Environment, Arts, and Society's Agroecology program in composting food scraps in the campus garden. Panther Dining is able to divert food waste from the landfill and agrcoecology students get a first-hand look at the composting process and are able to use the compost they produced in their organic garden as a natural fertilizer.


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:

Henington Lake on FIU's main campus functions as a freshwater wetlands research area. The Department of Earth and the Environment's Field Ecology Course identifies wetland species around the lake, tests water quality, and conducts ecological land topography measurements.


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:

A university student wrote her doctoral thesis on crisis management in a university setting. She observed the president of the university and administrative staff's behaviors in crisis management and the role it plays in higher education. Through her recorded observations she was able to make recommendations regarding coordination and planning in managing crisis situations in multiple levels of the university.


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:

A graduate student presented her project at FIU's Undergraduate Research Conference on the issues surrounding The “UniversityCity Project", which is an expansion of the institutional boundaries into the neighboring city. Through research findings, semi-structured interviews and participant observation on campus and the surrounding community the project seeks to answer how students and community members feel about the possibility of the project displacing low-income and minority individuals that live in the Li’l Abner Mobile Home Park, in the vicinity of the University.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
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 Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
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 Public Engagement:
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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:

SHAPE is a group of students, known as Peer Educators, who are trained in a variety of health-related topics to inform and educate their peers through university-wide presentations and programs. These program topics may include, but are not limited to, Nutrition and Fitness, Substance Use and Abuse, Stress Management, Sexual Education, and Preventative Health.


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 Honors College class "Inhabiting Other Lives" constructed a LEGO project in order to critique ongoing changes in the FIU Nature Preserve. The installation was set up in the Nature Preserve to represent the stark contrast between nature and man-made structures. Students extensively studied the nature preserve and its natural processes before designing their art.


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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Information on how the campus was used as a living laboratory was compiled from the following reports, presentations, projects, and internships completed by students in the last 3 academic years in which the campus was utilized in their project. Online Thesis and Dissertations can be found on DigitalCommons: http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/etd/. Class projects were often reported by the professor.

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.