Overall Rating Bronze
Overall Score 43.45
Liaison Chris Homan
Submission Date Feb. 25, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Illinois State University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Missy Nergard
Assistant Director
Office of 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:

Multiple disciplines utilize the campus grounds for classroom work and research. The Fell Arboretum is utilized for biology and botany. Water quality and conservation are research projects for Environmental Health and Safety and Environmental Sociology. The Golf Course has ongoing research and independent study programs to complete the certification processes for Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.


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:

Illinois State has degree programs in Construction Management, Project Management and Renewable Energy. The buildings are continuously utilized by students conducting research on energy efficiency, bird/window impact kills, solar irradiance potential, mechanical systems, and similar topics.


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:

Illinois State has a Renewable Energy major, and the campus energy and distribution systems are routinely utilized by faculty and students for research projects. Additionally, the university participates in a consortium of higher educational institutions for the procurement of gas and electricity to leverage our combined purchasing power. The financial models and contracts are a great resource for students working to develop renewable energy development plans. A major outcome of this work is our participation in the Department of Energy's Sunshot initiative through the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. Through this program we have inter-disciplinary teams of students and faculty creating a development plan for on-site installation of one megawatt of solar.


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:

ISU campus dining participates in a food scrap composting operated by the University Farm. In addition to the research on consumer behavior related to consumption, additional research has been conducted on composting rates of to-go containers and consumer behavior related to carry-out. Additional student work is conducted through our Family and Consumer Sciences department which focuses on research related to food availability, quality and economic impact of development of a local food network. Students have also created and operated a student garden which provided herbs and vegetables to the dining centers.


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:

Our campus environment is our biggest classroom and laboratory. ISU has academic exterior space such as the Horticulture Center, Fell Arboretum, and Environmental Laboratory that are routinely utilized for research and learning.


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:

The university's impact on the economy is significant and has created many opportunities to for students to utilize the purchasing system for research. Students have conducted research on life-cycle costing, incorporating C&D recycling into standard RFP language, and most recently conducted a major audit of the university's solid waste financial impact, commodity options, and future contract language for the next RFP on solid waste disposal and recycling services.


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:

The community has a robust public transportation system as well as working committees on bike and pedestrian thoroughfares. These pathways run through campus, and students work to develop solutions for pedestrian right-of-ways, bicycle repair stations, bike parking capacity, alternative fuels for the bus system, and even the behavior of squirrels along the thoroughfares. Their work has helped provide for bike racks on the buses, training opportunities on how to load and unload bikes from the bus racks, way-finding, and a proposed expansion of the community trail that runs through campus. Additionally, the student research has contributed to the data sets needed for our application to be designated as a Bike Friendly University.


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:

ISU's solid waste management diversion and minimization plan provides multitudes of opportunities for student and faculty work. Students participate in waste audits, conduct financial audits, identify new diversion options, established an e-refurbishment and e-recycling program, and they do work on policy analysis to help the university identify future items that will likely be banned from landfills. The most positive outcome of the research conducted has been in identifying the financial costs that the institution will assume when the local landfill closes in 2017. This has allowed for advanced budgetary planning and a strategic plan to work with the county on a significant effort for community-wide waste management. The work of students and faculty has also contributed to the municipal adoption of a new 20 year solid waste plan for the community which includes multi-family dwellings (directly impacts off-campus apartments) and ordinances to enact change if voluntary behavior is not effective in meeting goals.


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:

ISU has programs that engage students to conduct research on social behaviors related to watershed impact, water conservation and water quality. Surveys are conducted for peer-reviewed research, environmental health students conduct water quality analysis, and hydrogeology students work with the university golf course and associated agencies on flood mitigation strategies. This work has resulted in partnerships with local government agencies for on-going testing of water supplies, grants from the EPA on lawn care practices, and increased awareness of water usage in on-campus residence halls.


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:

Sustainability is a core value at Illinois State University and the institution has adopted STARS as it's metric for its guiding framework, Educate, Connect, Elevate. The shared-governance system and the adoption of the reporting tools has allowed for integration of sustainability in all levels of planning and governance. The Student Government Association has an equal voice in governance of campus, and the student trustee has equal voting rights at the Board of Trustee level. Students have conducted research on the investment portfolio (and recommended increased investment in socially responsible funds), advocated for the installation and procurement of renewable energy on campus and withing operations, and most recently have led a grass-roots organization to change legislation governing recycling in off-campus apartments. This last effort required significant organization, research and political leverage on campus and in the community.


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:

ISU has adopted a concerted effort to increase its global presence through the international studies program. Diversification of campus has allowed for a vast array of global citizens to provide input on the sustainability of campus. A group of international students has developed a proposal for solar canopied walk-ways and has partnered with several registered student organizations to obtain funding to finalize the plans and implement the project. Affordability is a significant concern in Illinois, as of the writing of this report, the state is 8 months into a budget impasse. This impasse has left ISU's most financially vulnerable students at risk. To mitigate financial burdens, interdisciplinary curricular programs that provide for internships on campus and in the community have been developed. These programs focus on providing practical applications of skills to solve local problems, and to provide concurrent opportunities for students locally so that time to degree is shortened, and there are no additional living or transportation costs. An example of a program is an internship on campus for a apparel merchandising student to work on the university's textile impact. This involves marketing the WRC and FLA commitments, partnering with second hand clothing stores, and developing standards for sourcing of materials.


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 students have formed committees and met with members of the foundation board to discuss and learn how ISU's portfolio is distributed and invested. These meetings have provided students with the information they needed to develop a Green Revolving Fund, and they have partnered with the Student Sustainability Committee to conduct an advocacy campaign as well as develop a strategy for building an endowment for the fund.


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:

ISU's President has made Civic Engagement a priority for the campus. A Center for Civic Engagement has been developed and all work related to that goal is being collected and promoted. An example project is the cataloging and mapping of 'little libraries' in one of the underserved neighbohoods in the community. Students mapped the 'little libraries', noted where more were needed and worked with community leaders and the public library to develop a strategy to serve those areas.


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:

Illinois State has a robust Health and Wellness program. Students work on programs on such as mindful eating, meditation, partner violence, and fitness options as an alternative for traditional vehicle commuting. A key program that the students developed is an on-campus CSA to provide local foods and cooking lessons to students, faculty and staff. Additionally, ISU is completing the application for the Healthy Campus 2020 initiative.


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:

ISU has designated the entire campus and grounds as a Botanical Garden, which will enable further integration of academic programs with existing assets.


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