Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 81.82
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Feb. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Green Mountain College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ryan Ihrke
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability
"---" 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:

Carbon pricing iniatiave

During Spring 2016, a student partnered with a faculty and our dining service staff to explore the carbon impact of meals served in the dining hall and initiated a program to offer low climate impact meals. The student surveyed the student body on willingness to adjust their diet to a low impact diet increasing plant based food items offered in the primary dining hall. The project culminated in a series of low carbon meals that highlighted low carbon food items through signage and limiting the amount of higher carbon foods offered as part of the food offering for each day.


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:

in 2015, a student created a plan to weatherize and increase the efficiency of the campus farmhouse. Taking data and reports from an energy audit conducted the previous year, the student met with contractors to assess how to improve the buildings performance, held discussions with building users on how to improve the function of the building, and identify funding resources to complete the project.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, the Renewable Energy and Ecological Design Program designed and built OTIS 2.0, a tiny house. The wood was sourced from local mills, the interdisciplinary design process was an update of the original OTIS 1.0 and is designed to serve as a mobile structure for short and long term adventures. This house is placed on campus as a showcase of the academic program.

In 2016, the Renewable Energy and Ecological Design Course: 2085 Energy Audit learned from home energy professionals strategies for measuring building energy performance and conducted an energy audit of the campus art gallery, the Feick Art Center. Through the audit, they identified issues related to the buildings performance and made recommendations on how the College can improve the performance.


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:

For the past 3 years, students are engaged in on-going study and work to establish a microgrid at Green Mountain College. In Fall 2017, students worked to identify the amount of energy consumed in buildings that could serve as core operational facilities in the event of a emergency where the College and surrounding community lose access to grid-supplied electricity. The student center housing the campus dining service and the gymnasium that could serve as a emergency shelter were identified as the core operational facilities. Students researched electric meter technology, consulted with local utilities, and met with facilities operators to develop a plan for installing and using the data collected to size the appropriate battery capacity for the microgrid project.

Each fall, the Renewable Energy and Ecological Design Program course Energy and Society develops educational videos focused on energy use on campus. Examples of energy topics include energy use in the athletic center, energy literacy, energy consumption for parking lot lighting, and how the biomass facility operates.


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:

From 2016 to 2017, a student has been working as part of their academic studies to increase the positive sustainable attributes of food used for off campus wilderness activities including the the College's orientation program, Wilderness Challenge and the fall adventure education 'block course' where students are off-site for consecutive weeks. The student identified the budget, assessed purchasing practices and needs, and worked to transition the increased purchase of local, organic, and low impact food supplies from the local food cooperative.

In 2016, as part of the delicate balance capstone course, two students worked to increase local food access in the campus dining hall. Project goals included:
•Gauge the student body interest in and awareness of local food.
•Work to get more local food, specifically meat, into the dining hall and buttery.
•Educate the student body about the local food options available in the dining hall and the buttery.
•Educate the student body about the importance of local food, and the importance of supporting our local food system.


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:

The natural areas crew has works closely with a botany professor to actively control invasive species on campus grounds. Several of these efforts are associated with environmental science classes. The crew also hosts invasive species pulls during Earth Week to educate the broader campus community about invasives. The result of all of this effort is a strong ethic on campus to control invasive species and a high awareness among students of the problems with invasive species. As students graduate, others take their places and shepherd the project.


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:

In 2016, a student led the initiative to become a certified fair trade college as part of Green Mountain College's delicate balance class. The student worked to identify specific activities and purchasing requirements to achieve certification. A resolution was drafted and shared with constituents across the institution and revised based on feedback before being brought the the administration. The administration passed the resolution to commit to become a fair trade institution. The final requirements were completed the following semester to achieve the official fair trade institution designation.


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:

Students have worked with the College's Delicate Balance course to support increased use of bikes by the campus community. In Fall 2016, a student explored the Bike Friendly University Designation and researched where GMC is currently at in terms of requirements for the school to achieve a Bike Friendly University designation. During the 2017 spring semester one student worked to generally support bike culture at Green Mountain College through a series of projects that included proposing improvements to indoor bike storage and proving more institutional support for the student led on campus bike shop/co-op. In Fall 2017, students used the delicate balance courses identified specific needs to expand services of the bike shop/co-op including the expansion of the bike sharing program. They secured funding for bike repair supplies and additional bikes to expand the bike share program.


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:

Through the delicate balance course, students have worked to address our Green Mountain College's waste stream. In the Fall of 2016, a student conducted regular monthly audits of all items deposited in our landfill bags during a single day. The student networked with other waste professionals to develop a waste audit procedure for our school, recruited staffing to conduct the audits, and publicized the results. The audits revealed that approximately 70% of items(by weight) could have been diverted from the landfill stream, with the majority of items being compostable items.

Another delicate balance project was the development of a compost sifter in spring 2017. The student designed and built a sifter to remove trash, dishware, and other items from the finished compost the college is producing form its food waste.


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:

In fall 2016, a student water project assessed the current fixtures on campus, specifically focusing o residential housing water use. They estimated comparisons on the amount of water used by clothes washers, toilets, showers, faucets and leaks, making recommendations on possible water saving investments.

In spring 2016, a student worked to initiated rainwater harvesting on campus. They assessed water harvesting potential at different parts of campus and installed a rainwater barrel on the campus farm, harvesting rainwater off the campus farmhouse to support the kitchen garden.


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:

In Fall 2017, as part of delicate balance a student started the process for completing a resilience assessment for the College. The student reviewed various methods for conducting an assessment of the institution, met with campus and community members to discuss the process, and developed a stakeholder analysis based on the information being collected in the chosen assessment. In addition, they identified an outside facilitator to lead the assessment activity and secured funding to pay for their services.


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:

In the spring of 2017, a student worked as part of the delicate balance environmental liberal arts course to work on projects to increase cultural awareness at Green Mountain College. Examples of projects included partnering with the student involvement office and academic classes to coordinate a student trip to view the film I Am Not Your Negro at a nearby cinema. The student also secured funds to support installations of maps identifying territories of indigenous nations in North America prior to outsider contact and showing where current and proposed pipelines are in relation to current reservations. These maps were hung in the student center's main lobby. A skype call was coordinated for the campus community with the created with the map creator Aaron Carrapella.


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:

Students in Dr. Steven Letendre’s Economics of the Environment class if Fall 2016 researched the impact that a carbon pollution tax would have on the State’s economy and the College’s finances. Based on an independent economic analysis by the Washington DC-based Regional Economic Models, Inc., the students found that a carbon tax could strengthen Vermont’s economy creating new jobs in the clean energy sector. Students and the college administration will be paying close attention to any bill that develops to insure it is not a regressive tax that would have a negative impact on lower and middle income Vermonters. The students presented this information to the College's administration and in February 2017, the College became an official endorser of Energy Independent Vermont's campaign for a carbon tax.


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:

In September 2016, the State Department approved Rutland, Vermont, as a resettlement community for Syrian refugees displaced by the civil war in their country. While some local citizens were quick to demonstrate their support for the plan, others expressed their concerns about the resettlement and their dissatisfaction with how the process was handled.
Green Mountain College students taking a class called "Communicating Across Differences" as part of a twelve-credit block course on Envisioning a Sustainable and Resilient North Country chose the controversy in Rutland as a case study in public disagreement at the community level. Drawing on the principles of Nonviolent Communication, the students met with Rutland residents representing various perspectives on the subject and listened very carefully to their concerns, without judgment.

As part of the course, they created a website to facilitate productive communication by representing a range of voices and providing information that may help interested parties answer whatever questions they may have about resettling Syrian refugees in Rutland. The website can be found here: https://sites.google.com/greenmtn.edu/refugeeresettlement/home


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:

In the Spring 2017, as part of the Delicate Balance experiential learning course, a student conducted research sexual health of college-aged students and challenges to accessing contraception at the Green Mountain College. With challenges identified, the student created a plan to increase access to condoms throughout the residence halls and secured funding to support the purchase of fair trade condoms in partnership with the Student Campus Greening Fund, the Wellness Center, and Residence Life. Condoms were placed in each residence hall of Green Mountain College.


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:

Through delicate balance, projects to support sustainability to support arts and culture have been executed. For example, in Fall 2016 a project was to develop a therapeutic expressive arts club was initiated. The project objective was to crate a therapeutic expressive arts club with a mission to encourage mindful art community at GMC that is welcoming and open to all students. The intention of the club was to promote healing through expression and creating a safe space for people to express themselves and connect with others.


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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Green Mountain College serves as a living laboratory for many topics. The examples described here are only a portion of the projects that are relevant to this credit.

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.