Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 77.02
Liaison Laura Bain
Submission Date June 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

Furman University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
4.00 / 4.00 Laura Bain
Associate Director of Sustainability Assessment
David E. Shi Center for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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:

The Shi Institute plays an active role in promoting campus as lab by providing one-pagers about various campus locations with suggested activities, a online sign-up form to help facilitate use, and promoting use of these spaces to our Affiliate Faculty. https://www.furman.edu/sustainability/programs/campus-as-living-learning-lab/

The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities houses a rotating student art / photo exhibit that highlights campus and community sustainability issues and features sustainability based courses.

Students in the Greenbelt Sustainable Living Learning Community mapped all of the university student organizations across the 17 SDGs in an effort to identify common interests and create synergy around the SDGs across campus. The results of their analysis were presented at the 2020 AASHE conference.

Faculty and students in the Biology and Sustainability Science programs developed a searchable SDG course assessment tool. All 1600 courses within the Furman course catalog were numerically ranked on a scale of 0 - 10 for all 17 SDGs based on course descriptions. The resulting database is publicly available and has a graphical interface that allows students to search courses based on any SDG. Data from the analysis were used to develop a “leaf” rating system for the sustainability content of every course on campus.

Furman Eco Reps is a student program that focuses on peer-to-peer education and encouragement in living a sustainable lifestyle. There is a student Eco Rep assigned to each residence hall and apartment complex on campus, and they are in charge of integrating sustainability into student living through engaging projects like a Green Living Certification Program and residential composting.

The 2020 Sustainability Science Capstone Practicum class created a “Green Athletics Program” that has an athletics committee that self-audits teams and promotes sustainability in the athletics department.

Digital Communications class projects created fliers, PSA videos, podcasts, and infographics for a variety of sustainability-related issues including waste/recycling, plastic use reduction, transportation, food choices, energy saving, Shi Institute fellowships, and Furman Gardens.

Faculty and students in Computer Science are developing a Furman mobile app to improve communication and campus engagement. Among many other things, the app includes information about food choices and transportation options on campus.

Students in the Greenbelt Sustainable Living Learning Community developed a promotional video to advertise for the Greenbelt, a student residential community focused on sustainable living and lifestyles.

Students developed a Campus Green Guide that promotes sustainable living and highlights sustainability opportunities on campus and in the surrounding community. The guide is updated every year, is available online through the university sustainability website, and is distributed to all incoming first year students each year.


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 admissions guide and campus map highlight Furman's sustainability features, and campus tours for prospective students visit the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities and Furman's organic practice farm.

Lake Restoration project signage for our ongoing restoration of the 28 acre campus lake was designed by students and is intended for both campus and community education.

The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities Fellowship program partners with local organizations in the broader Greenville community such as Trees Upstate, Oak Hill Cafe, Upstate Forever, Palmetto Green, Riverstead, Prisma Health, and Project Host and funds sustainability student fellows to work with these organizations on local sustainability issues each summer. The program funds 25 - 30 student sustainability fellows a year.

A student publication, Opportunities and Benefits of a University-Based Weatherization Assistance Program: The Case of Furman University's Community Conservation Corps, explores the history, successes, challenges and replicability of Furman’s decade-long Community Conservation Corps weatherization program, which weatherizes low-income houses in Greenville, SC

The 2019 Sustainability Science practicum class used the LEED City framework to analyze the City of Greenville’s current sustainability.

The 2020 SUS practicum class mapped the City of Greenville on the Raworth Sustainability Doughnut and worked with the city’s sustainability coordinator and Green Ribbon Committee to seed the creation of the city's first sustainability plan due out in 2022.

A student developed a regional outdoors guide that provides students and local community members with an overview of nearby outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking, biking, climbing, paddling, and swimming opportunities to facilitate wellness and sustainable activity among students.

Accessing Affordable Housing in Greenville, SC Based on the STAR Community Rating Standards: a GIS student project that examines the availability and current state of affordable housing in Greenville.

Food Access: An Analysis of Household Income and SNAP/EBT Accessibility in Greenville, County, SC: a GIS student project that analyzes the food landscape in Greenville County and uses EBT/SNAP data to determine new potential locations where SNAP benefits are needed to increase access to nutritious food in low-income and high-need areas.

Engaging the Greenville Community in Sustainability Science Education and Civic Science was a 2018 Sustainability Science Practicum project that developed curriculum targeting fifth-eighth grade students and created an exhibition for the new Roper Mountain Science Center’s new $15 million sustainability education center.

An Interdisciplinary Study of Neighborhood Change and Gentrification in Greenville: A Collaboration with the United Way of Greenville County is a research project where students and faculty from business and accounting, computer science, public health, sociology, and sustainability science collaborated with United Way of Greenville County to study neighborhood changes to better prepare non-profit organizations to address evolving community needs and leverage local assets.

Community Gardening in Greenville: A Case Study of the Nicholtown Community Garden was a student project that focused on a community garden in Greenville’s Nicholtown neighborhood and assessed the positive outcomes and challenges of community gardening.


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:

Through the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities Student Fellows program, an annual Assessment Fellow collects data for the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, assesses areas for improvement and potential solutions, and presents the information at Furman Engaged, a campus-wide event to present student research.

Furman's renowned Community Conservation Corps uses student volunteers to weatherize low-income homes in the Greenville Community, both saving the homeowner money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use.

Furman has a partnership with UCapture, an online platform that allows users to offset their carbon footprint via a commission program with online merchants. Student UCapture ambassadors conduct peer-to-peer outreach to explain how an individual can contribute to carbon emissions and how they can reduce and mitigate their carbon footprint.


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:

Two student-residence cabins, housing 16 students in total, are deemed the "Greenbelt." These students are part of an engaged living program and committed to learning about and participating in a sustainable lifestyle. The buildings are equipped with smart home technology that allows students in real time to track their energy and water use and are equipped with thermal solar panels, composters, solar tubes, and clothes drying racks. Students take two classes as part of the program: SUS 200 Sustainable Living and Leadership and SUS 201 Making Change Happen, focused on developing and implementing action plans for sustainability-related change on campus.

Our online energy dashboard tracks energy and water use by building and is frequently used for student mini-projects and class lab activities. Furman's 8 LEED certified buildings showcase sustainable practices and provide opportunities for comparison and analysis.

Thoreau Cabin: A replica of Thoreau’s cabin from Walden pond was built by a 2009 May Experience class. The cabin stands as a testament to our desires to better connect with nature and to aspire to simple living. Visits are organized by the English Department and can range from literary readings to writing retreats, to discussions on simple living.

The North Village apartments, which house upperclass students, run on highly efficient geothermal ground-source heat pumps, which take advantage of the constant temperature of the earth to pre-heat or pre-cool air for ventilation.

The 2020 Sustainability Science Practicum class worked with project managers in Facilities to consider Life Cycle Cost Analysis and embodied carbon assessment for upcoming campus renovation projects.


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:

Our online energy dashboard tracks energy and water use by building and is frequently used for student mini-projects and class lab activities.

Furman's 743kw Solar Farm, located at the front entrance to campus, raises student awareness and provides opportunities for class projects, labs, and general education visits. Several students focused on the solar farm for their introductory class projects.

ReRev - elliptical machines in the physical activities center provide power to the grid and educational signage raises awareness.

The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities has five types of photovoltaic panels and regularly hosts internal and external tours to showcase: monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels, solar thin film, bifacial panels, and a dual-axis pole-mounted solar tracker.

The 2020 Sustainability Science Practicum class drafted a thermostat setpoint policy that sets limits on the range of the thermostats in buildings across campus, based on comparisons to similar institutions, to save energy and money.

A Sustainability Science Visioning Course framed and assessed various pathways to reaching our carbon neutrality goal of 2026.

A student created a video of Furman’s solar installations, featured on our website and distributed through the Furman University News Channel.

Students in Sustainability Science classes conducted plug load surveys and analyses in student residence halls and faculty offices to better understand energy use across campus and develop education campaigns around reducing energy use.


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:

The Furman Farm is an organic practice farm with a comprehensive composting program. The farm is largely student run under the supervision of staff farm manager. The farm grows thirty-five different fruits and vegetables and sells its produce to the Furman Dining Hall. The farm provides hands-on experience for students, who learn about the complexity of food systems and gain an appreciation for the holistic cycle of composting, growing, harvesting, and consumption. Classes frequently visit the Furman farm to learn about sustainable food systems and composting, engage, and do hands-on work on the farm.

Through the Shi Institute Student Fellows program, a Farm Fellow and Compost Fellow regularly research and apply best practices for organic farming, composting, and sustainable food systems at Furman. A Bon Appetit Fellow works closely with our dining service provider to create a bridge between Bon Appétit and the campus community, as well as to assist in maintaining the partnership between the Shi Institute and Bon Appétit. This student assists the Bon Appétit team in putting on events and creating outreach campaigns across campus, works with student, faculty and staff groups, and creates programming to inform the Furman community about Bon Appetit's Local Farm to Fork Program. All student fellows share their work and findings at Furman Engaged, a campus-wide event to present student research. Recently, the Bon Appetit student fellow was able to coordinate a food recovery program with the local non-profit, Loaves and Fishes, to donate leftover food in the Dining Hall.

Bon Appetit locally sources 20% of its food from the Furman Farm and other local farms, and has the local farms displayed in the dining hall. This allows students and visitors to make more educated decisions on their food choices and familiarizes them with local farms.

A GIS student project assessed farms in the region in an effort to improve local food sourcing through our dining service provider.

A GIS student project focused on campus food options for those with dietary restrictions.

Students in the Greenbelt Community developed a vegetarian cookbook based on produce available from the campus farm.

Students in Sociology conducted a food insecurity study of Furman students to assess the current extent of food insecurity across campus.

A student developed a food redistribution app that notifies students across campus when there are leftovers available from catered events that they can come and claim. The intent is to both reduce food waste and help address food insecurity across campus.


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:

The Shi Institute offers a Student Garden and Arboretum Fellowship that works with members of the Biology faculty to rehabilitate and tend to the Native Plant/Ethnobotany Garden on campus and market the University’s Level 1 Arboretum status.

The Rock and Botanical Garden that surrounds the Charles H. Townes Science Center is designed to reflect the geology of the Southern Appalachian region. This teaching tool provides aesthetic beauty and research opportunities for those who major in the Earth and Environmental Science department. The garden showcases large rock specimens collected from mines across the state of South Carolina.

Furman is designated a Level 1 Arboretum and is recognized by Tree Campus USA, providing ample opportunities for learning and research on campus.

A student in the GIS class mapped the land use of the entire campus to allow for better reporting in our STARS report.

Classes frequently visit the Furman farm to learn about sustainable food systems and composting, engage, and do hands-on work on the farm.

The Bunched Arrowhead is a federally protected endangered species, and Furman is home to one of the only wild Bunched Arrowhead populations in the world. A public viewing deck on campus is maintained for anyone to visit, observe, and learn about the species. A faculty member in Biology is conducting demographic species monitoring of the bunched arrowhead plants on campus.

A student GIS project mapped campus outdoor use and identified areas that are underutilized, along with recommendations for improving function and enhancing the outdoor student experience.

A Digital Communications class project resulted in an educational walking map of the various campus gardens.

A biology course assessed plant diversity in response to herbivory at the Furman Solar Farm, where sheep graze and/or are excluded.

A sustainability science thesis project aimed to understand and coordinate more sustainable grounds management.

A sustainability science class project assessed various lake management scenarios preceding the decision to dredge shallow sections of the lake.

A new pollinator garden was established next to the Furman farm. Various classes helped plant and tend the garden.

Two art professors have used the Shi Institute and Furman Farm for inspirations for their photography and drawing classes with on site photo and drawing sessions. The results will be featured as an exhibit in the Shi Institute this coming year.


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

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

The Green Office Certification Program and fellowship includes ongoing research with our Director of Procurement and our office supply contractor to track and set goals for more sustainable purchasing. The Green Office student fellow analyzes academic department purchasing through our Green Office Certification program and aids departments in adopting more sustainable practices.

The Full Cost Analysis Learning Module is a Furman module that uses video primers and case studies to look at economic, social, and environmental costs of a problem. Full cost analysis focuses on systems thinking to look beyond short-term cost benefits and focus on long-term and sustainable purchasing.

The 2020 Sustainability Science Practicum class completed an audit of Furman’s purchasing of cleaning supplies around campus to identify where we have an opportunity to invest in a more sustainable portfolio of cleaning supplies.


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:

Increasing Bikeway and Trail Miles in Greenville: a GIS student project that compiles data to observe foot and bike traffic throughout Greenville and determines the places most in need of new bikeways and trails in Greenville.

Assessing the Carpool Potential and Benefits for Furman Employees: a GIS student project that studies potential savings in driving distance, fuel usage, gas money used, and carbon emissions that would come from increasing employee carpooling.

A student GIS project assessed university air travel (faculty and student conference travel, study away, and athletics) using purchasing data to better calculate GHG emissions.

A student GIS project assessed employee residence locations and potential for alternative transportation (bus, bike, carpool) to campus, including the potential reduction in carbon emissions.

A student GIS project mapped the locations of all university issued parking tickets in an effort to identify hotpots and develop potential solutions (perhaps increased signage) to reduce the number of infractions.

Students set up a new student-run campus bike shop to help promote biking on campus. The bike shop rents bikes, provides inexpensive bike repair and tune ups, and sells used refurbished bikes.

A faculty member in Sociology coordinates an annual bike to work month for faculty and staff each April. Miles and CO2 savings are tracked and recorded for all participants.

Students conducted commuter surveys and observations to track commuting habits of students across campus with the goal of developing new policies to promote more biking and walking instead of driving around campus.

Students in SUS classes conducted bike inventories across campus to determine the number of bikes and the frequency of their use.

Students in SUS classes analyzed the fuel economy of the entire faculty, staff, and student vehicle fleet to provide more accurate estimates of our scope 3 emissions.


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:

Through the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, a Recycling Fellow works closely with Facilities staff and is responsible for setting up weekly campus-wide recycling pick-ups and tracking our on-campus recycling efforts.

Furman's student Eco Reps conducted waste audits in campus dining areas that showcase the food and food packaging wasted by students in a given time period and provide education and encouragement about reducing food waste and recycling. Eco Reps also implemented residential composting into all student housing locations on campus in order to reduce food waste and recycle it back to the campus farm.

A student GIS project created a comprehensive map of recycling and waste stations on campus.

A class project monitored waste stations and recorded fill levels of all campus dumpsters on the day of pick-up with the goal of optimizing pick-up schedules and reducing costs and/or related emissions.

Numerous classes have conducted waste audits of the residential waste stream to help identify target areas for improvement in our recycling efforts.

Students in the Greenbelt Community worked with Facilities to develop a Move Out program in which donation trucks from a local nonprofit, the Frazee Dream Center, are stationed around campus during move out to collect goods that can be resold in their thrift store, thereby preventing these materials from going to the landfill.

A student on the tennis team developed a recycling program for used tennis balls in which she set up collection stations for all used tennis balls by the men’s and women’s tennis teams, and then donated these balls to the local humane society to be gifted as dog toys for any newly adopted dogs.

Students in the Math department have analyzed all student printing use in an effort to identify trends in printing habits across departments, class standing, gender, and major, with goals of developing targeted messaging and strategies to reduce paper use across campus.


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

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

The Living Machine is a tidal wetland wastewater treatment facility, treating wastewater from two campus buildings and piping it back into the Townes Science Center for reuse in toilets. Class visits to the Living Machine provide hands-on introductions and lab activities related to the nitrogen cycle, wastewater treatment, greywater reuse systems, etc.

Floating islands with native plant species were implemented on the Furman Lake to help in trapping sediment and taking up nutrients to prevent eutrophication, educating students and the public about natural methods of water treatment and filtration.

Across campus, Furman is fully equipped with water bottle filling stations that enlighten the filler with the number of total plastic bottles that have been saved from those choosing to refill their water bottle instead of purchasing a new one. A student ambassador for Tap is tracking campus filling station use and plastic saved while also educating and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles.

Students in the Greenbelt Community and in intro SUS classes have been tracking use of the water bottle filling stations across campus. The analyses have been used to decide where to locate additional filling stations. A single use bottle tax of 25 cents was added in the vending machines across campus. The funds gathered from the tax are used to install new filling stations on campus.


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 2019 Sustainability Science practicum class developed a visioning plan for a sustainable community that could be built on a 32 acre university property at the edge of campus. Another group developed a business plan for the Furman farm.

The 2020 Sustainability Science Practicum class created a “Green Events Program” to encourage large scale campus events to practice green practices when coordinating programs and events across campus. Campus organizations fill out Qualtrics a form to compete with each other for a green award.

Sustainability Action Council was convened following our 2018 STARS rating to engage campus stakeholders and decision-makers on next steps and action items to improve in the categories of Waste, Transportation, Energy, and Grounds.


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:

A Task Force on Slavery and Justice was formed in the spring of 2017 to examine Furman’s historical connections to slavery and to help Furman better understand and learn from its past. The final report, Seeking Abraham, was released in 2019 and focused on investigating Furman’s historical connections with slavery, making a space for transparency, creating a plan and accountability for reparations, and publishing the research, dialogue, and healing that has resulted.

The Ad-Hoc Committee on Black Life at Furman is a 16-member committee that addresses instances of racism experienced by black faculty, staff, students, and alumni and works to advance commitments to embody anti-racism and a just and equitable campus culture.

On our website, Furman has a Bias Incident Reporting tool where faculty, staff, students and visitors can report instances of bias they have experienced. This helps Furman address and prevent any incidents of intentional or unintentional acts or behavior that is based on any facet of the individual or group’s identities, such as acts of discrimination, harassment, intolerance, threats, graffiti, written or verbal slurs, etcetera.

Furman reported 22% diversity in the class of 2024, the most recent class, and has 45 states and 29 different countries represented by students.

Furman’s Diversity Vision and Diversity Statement honors the importance of diversity on campus and states a commitment to represent a multiplicity of identities, such as gender, race, religion, spiritual belief, sexual orientation, geographic origin, socioeconomic background, ideology, world view, and varied abilities in campus culture. Furman also commits to attaining diversity regarding recruitment and retention of students, seeking to embrace mutual trust, respect, and civility.

Furman uses a text-based service that helps address food insecurity while also eliminating food waste from catered events.

The Joseph Vaughn Plaza completed January 2020 displays a statue honoring Furman’s first black undergraduate student and established a place for reflection and celebration of those who helped make the university a more equitable and inclusive place.

January 29th is designated as Joseph Vaughn Day, where students, staff, and faculty are invited to honor the first black undergraduate student, Joseph Vaugn, with performances by Furman’s gospel choir, talks by professors and students, and other events.

Expanding Interfaith Diversity and Collaboration at Furman University was a student project that explored interfaith diversity on Furman’s campus.


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:

Furman has incorporated use of the MSCI database for ESG assessment into various courses and utilizes the assessment platform to analyze the sustainability ratings of on-campus franchises.

An Ecological Economics class conducted a cost/benefit analysis on the use of sheep as vegetation management at the Furman solar farm.

There is a new student committee looking at ESG investing of the university’s endowment.


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:

An engaged learning opportunity called FIT Rx pairs junior and senior health sciences (HSC) majors with approximately 35 faculty, staff, and spouses, to create individualized exercise training programs. Students meet with their "clients" up to 3x per week for the semester, providing feedback and guidance on health and exercise progress.

A Faculty-led mindfulness and wellbeing non-credit class is open to students/staff/faculty.

The “Place of Peace” is an authentic Japanese temple located on campus that is used for meditation classes, and the temple and adjoining Asia Garden are meant to “stimulate your connection to the earth and all the peoples of the world” and provide a place to experience reflection, peace, and deep calmness.

In partnership with the Physical Activity Center, the Shi Institute maintains and manages use of a 7-seater conference bicycle that may be used by faculty, staff, and students for events, meetings, team building, or exercise.

Furman Wellness Committee launched the My Wellness initiative, hosts virtual step challenges, and provides resources for employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A free 6 week plant based eating course available to all faculty and staff through the Wellness Committee and Health Sciences Department.


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.