Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.20
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date March 5, 2020

STARS v2.2

George Washington University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Meghan Chapple
Director of Sustainability, Senior Advisor on University Sustainability Initiatives
Office of 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:

Planet Forward, a project of the School of Media & Public Affairs, both educates and encourages inspiring stories about solutions and innovations to help our environment — and is the basis for the type of storytelling taught in the course Sustainability Reporting (SMPA 3193). In the course, students practice the skills needed to be an environmental storyteller with a focus on sustainability and climate change in the Anthropocene. Students feature campus projects in their stories. The course teaches them through practice to bring accuracy, research, data, thoroughness, presentation and originality to their journalism and communications.The class also emphasizes creative storytelling and compelling characters and have executed multimedia sustainability stories, including the Planet Forward online platform. Students have produced the following pieces:
- Where does it go? Composting at GWU
- A campus for creatures: GW’s Sustainable Grounds Initiative
- Stopping food waste with surplus food
- Can an army of one save a half million?
- DC Climathon 2019: Could sustainable fashion be the future?
- Solar power at the George Washington University


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:

GW provides this living lab course Engaging Communities to Promote Evidence-Based Environmental Justice for undergraduate students in any school, as part of the Sustainability Minor. The course was created out of a partnership between the Office of Sustainabiity, the Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, and the Sustainability Minor Program. Taught and led by Professor Naamal De Silva, students design and carry out research that engages and supports DC residents from marginalized or underserved communities. During this course, students identify, research, and interpret intersections between environmental, technological, socioeconomic, and political problems and opportunities within communities in DC. In analyzing real world problems faced by DC residents, students apply analytical methods from the natural and social sciences, peer-reviewed research, and interdisciplinary knowledge gained through prior coursework. The goal of this community-engaged research is to develop proposals for service learning projects, with the possibility of funding or further development through the Public Service Grant Commission grants, the Eco-Equity Challenge, the Knapp Fellowship, Climathon, the New Venture Competition, and other opportunities. This course serves as a capstone experience for the Sustainability Minor, but is not limited to students in the minor. Students with existing service-learning or social innovation projects may use this course to support project implementation and adaptive management.


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:

The mission of the Fresh Air DC Living Lab is improving air quality through low-cost sensors, data analytics, and university-community partnerships. Through the course The course Research in Sustainability, the living lab creates an integrated technological system that facilitates urban air quality monitoring and communication using low-cost sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity (i.e., LoRaWAN). This system is student- and community-driven, and contributes important knowledge and technology to advance distributed urban air quality sensing in smart cities. The course is part of the Sustainability Minor, in which students come together from across any major. In this course, Professor Royce Francis in the School of Engineering and Applied Science introduces students to interdicsiplinary research methods, with a special focus on community-engaged research. Each semester of students iterates and expands on the work of the previous semester. Under the tutelage of Professor Francis, students design and create air pollution monitors, which they subsequently place on campus and throughout the DC community. Students work in teams to market the project, analyze data, conduct outreach with community partners, and budget the project. The monitors are also co-located by existing EPA monitors to test the reliability/accuracy of the data. The students in the project/course have relied on partnerships with on entities, such as GW Facilities, GW SEAS, GW Milken Institute of Public Health, and off-campus, community partners like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Jr. DC chapter. For more information, see https://sustainability.gwu.edu/sustainability-snapshot-what%E2%80%99s-air-gw-based-research-project-aims-gather-data-air-quality-educate


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:

The new Milken School of Public Health is a LEED Platinum building, which provides an excellent teaching tool in the Sustainable Energy classes, taught by Professor Peter LaPuma, in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. He and his students gain access to the roof to show the rain water collection system used for bathroom flush water and the heat recovery system for fresh air brought into the building. His students also learn about the many safety and backup systems in a green commercial building.


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:

Professor Saniya LeBlanc in GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science in partnership with Facilities Planning, Construction and Management and the Office of Sustainability provide an energy-focused living lab. The living lab provides real-world, project-based learning experiences for students and investigates the impact of university energy projects. Projects include the evaluation of campus building energy efficiency, the university’s combined heat and power plant, and engagement in GW’s 53MW solar farm in North Carolina.


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:

In 2018-2019, two students at GW led an effort to study dining and food security at GW as their Culminating Experience, a practice-oriented academic program requirement in the GW Milken Institute of Public Health. Working in conjunction with key campus stakeholders from the student body, staff, faculty, and administrators, the students formed a "Food Experience Task Force" to manage research and to administer a campus-wide survey seeking to better understand dining at GW. These efforts culminated in a "State of Dining at GW" report that provides an extensively researched and illuminating picture of dining at GW as well as areas for positive change. https://www.sa.gwu.edu/state-of-dining-at-gw-report


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:

Professor Hartmut Doebel from the Biology Department conducts research on various aspects of honeybee biology. Students working with Professor Doebel run an apiary that is located on the roof of the Biology Department's building. Student researchers in the bee lab have multiple opportunities to apply their expertise and enhance their skills by working on projects on campus. They teach a workshop with managers of the University's on-campus garden about honeybee behavior and how they promote healthy food systems. Also, the student beekeepers lead a biodiversity study for the Grounds Department and the Office of Sustainability. The data is used to demonstrate the positive impact of native plants on the biodiversity of an urban park.


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:

Professor Bibiana Obler of the Art History Department taught a course in the Spring of 2019 called "Fast Fashion/Slow Art" which examines the true cost of fast fashion. In the course, students research and develop a consumer guide on responsible fashion to provide to students, faculty, and staff in the GW community. Simultaneously, the Office of Sustainability launched an effort to reduce textile waste on campus and divert clothing from the landfill by encouraging the use of on-campus donation bins. The students incorporated these on-campus efforts into their consumer guide to increase the rates of textile waste diversion on campus.


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:

The GW Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis offers a 12-credit graduate certificate in Walkable Urban Real Estate and Place Management for both MBA and MS in Finance students and non-degree students. Taking advantage of metropolitan Washington, D.C.’s walkable urbanism, students work with faculty in specific neighborhoods to map and understand transportation needs and opportunities to expand walking and biking as transportation options.


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:

Professor Tara Scully began a new compost project during Spring 2017 with students from her Food, Nutrition, and Service course. The course uses community service as a lens to study biology and food. The students have been able to maintain a sustainable waste system through compost. They operate the composting system on the roof of Bell Hall on campus, along with a greenhouse and beehives. Professor Scully combines academic knowledge in biology and community service. Students learn about the process of food decomposition, as well as the correct proportions of carbon and nitrogen to create healthy fertilizer to return to the soil. The compost is used across campus landscapes. In addition to the Food, Nutrition, and Service course, students in the capstone course for the sustainability minor have participated in on-campus litter audits with Kris Ferguson, GW's Zero Waste Coordinator in Facilities. Through these litter audits, students have been able to learn how to conduct such audits, how to categorize recyclable and non-recyclable litter, and the impacts of litter on the environment. The Zero Waste Coordinator uses the data generated by these litter audits to enhance GW's Zero Waste Initiative on campus and in Washington, D.C.


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?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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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 Diversity & Affordability?:
No

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

Sustainable GW hosts an educational session at the annual GW Diversity Summit that explores the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in sustainability. Students, faculty and staff ask questions, raise issues, and provide feedback on the sustainability landscape at GW and reflect on the question: Why is diversity important for the sustainability movement?

The session provides the historical context of the environmental movement and diversity. It also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that sustainability — in action, research, and academics — actively strives to be inclusive of a range of people, viewpoints and experiences so that GW students who go on to become the environmental leaders of tomorrow are aware of the importance going forward of diversity and inclusivity in this field. The workshop asks staff and faculty in the sustainability community at GW to take a hard look at themselves to identify their own failures to be inclusive and steps to take to understand how to change their behavior to foster a more diverse and inclusive movement, starting with the sustainability community at GW.


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

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

In early 2018, the Student Association, in conjunction with university leaders, announced the creation of a new Sustainable Investment Fund (SIF). The Student Association-driven initiative allocates $2M from the university endowment toward innovation in sustainable practices and seeks to avoid investments in the top coal, oil and gas companies. Annually, student leaders meet with Strategic Investment Group, who manages the fund, and the Office of Sustainability to learn more about the landscape of sustainable investment, the structure of GW’s endowment, and the performance of the SIF. After, the student leaders join the staff from Strategic Investment Group and the Office of Sustainability to share learnings and updates with the broader GW community through a presentation and panel discussion.


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:

Created and taught by internationally chef and humanitarian José Andrés and Professor Tara Scully as part of the GW Sustainability Minor, the course "World on a Plate" surveys the many ways in which food and society interact. Faculty and guest lecturers expand the experiences of students who choose to participate in this exciting exploration of a truly interdisciplinary topic. In this course, students think deeply about food in its many different roles, e.g., as a critical factor in public health, as an industry, as a science, as the medium of the craft of cooking, and as a political instrument. The course objective is to teach students to:
1. Identify the importance of food in many different spheres of modern civilization.
2. Compare similar views and contrast divergent views of food’s role in history.
3. Articulate, both verbally and in writing, how food has shaped civilization through its multiple connections with everyday life, as well as with national and international affairs.
4. Critically evaluate the role of food in the future of a global community with a growing population on a planet with limited resources.
5. Create and execute an action plan to address at least one food-related issue of importance to society.
Through the course, students provide critical analysis of the food systems on campus, in the community, and beyond, resulting in service projects, activism, and cooking events that contribute to a more sustainable future of food at GW and in Washington, D.C. The campus dining related learning and analysis inform practices that contribute to student and employee wellbeing at GW.

https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/world-renowned-chef-jos%C3%A9-andr%C3%A9s-reintroduces-course-food-and-social-issues


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Living laboratories merge academics and campus facilities management to provide students with real-world skills, and for GW, an opportunity to meet its sustainability goals with enhanced student and faculty engagement. GW sees tremendous potential in the campus living lab concept, since it breaks through the current curricular and operational paradigms to add a new model for both education and sustainability action. In theory, a living lab is a given place where problem-based teaching, research and applied work combine to develop actionable solutions that make that place more sustainable. Living Labs have the potential to engage students, staff and faculty in citizenship, leadership in sustainability, and to provide a service that benefits the GW campus. The Living Labs concept speaks powerfully to both sustainability and to further enhance our commitment to service.

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.