Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 51.76
Liaison Audrey McSain
Submission Date Nov. 16, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Lehigh University
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Katharine Targett Gross
Sustainability Officer
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Improving Indoor Air Quality in Bethlehem

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

In the summer of 2015 an affordable plant-based air purification system, known as the Phytopurifier system, was created by one of Lehigh’s Environmental Initiative-STEPS Summer Research Internship teams to improve indoor air quality in Bethlehem.

Lehigh’s Environmental Initiative-STEPS Summer Research Internship Program is a summer fellowship that engages students in creative, independent research under faculty supervision in the areas of energy, environment, policy, economics, and sustainability. The Phytopurifier team created and tested a plant-based air purification system to learn that the prototype was able to reduce target pollutants at a more rapid rate than the control environment where no Phytopurifier was utilized.

The project was developed using residents of the City of Bethlehem as potential consumers, due to the area’s high ground level ozone in the area. Bethlehem’s topography as a valley and its moist climate causes the trapping of air pollutants. The Phytopurifier is capable of removing a significant amount of pollutants from the air - 852 μg/m3 per hour of carbon black (CB) and 0.9 ppm of carbon monoxide (CO) per hour. Air pollution causes several health problems, which can be attenuated by removing CO and CB from homes. Additionally, keeping in mind air pollution affects people of lower socioeconomic status at higher rates, the team created the system to be low cost and accessible to everyone.

The creation of the affordable plant-based air purification system, as part of the Environmental Initiative-STEPS Summer Research Internship Program, emphasizes Lehigh’s commitment to engage students in sustainable development that goes above and beyond the campus community. As a result of this project, the team created the company Air Releaf, which provides expert information about health and wellness, and the natural air purifier system. This project not only involved students in environmental research and its benefits within campus, it also covered aspects of affordability, social equity, well-being, and air and climate.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Air & Climate
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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.