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-26: Innovation C

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:
Lehigh's Trees: A Second Life

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 Spring of 2015 oak trees recovered at Lehigh University after Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) were used to construct conference tables for use in Williams Hall. In addition to this, during the summer of 2016 both a conference table for the Lehigh President’s office as well as a reception desk in the atrium of the Alumni Memorial building also used wood salvaged from trees downed during Hurricane Sandy.

The day after Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, dozens of giant oak trees that had stood as stalwart guardians of the university since the days before Lehigh was founded were decimated. By the end of the storm, a team rescued and had milled six 12-foot pieces of trees that were nearly 300 years old, knowing that someday there would be a way to repurpose them on campus. In 2015, a group of Lehigh students and staff members came together to give the historic wood a second life – to construct conference tables for use in Williams Hall and other furniture for prominent locations throughout campus.

During the building process, students learned about different woodworking processes, how these trees fell down on campus and all the steps to storage and recover the trees. Students helped chip off bark from the rough wood, sand the table tops and cut the pieces for the steel base in the metal shop, while engaging with the history and recovery process of those trees at Lehigh. These projects are another example of how Lehigh students and staff utilize the campus as a living laboratory and how Lehigh promotes reuse and waste minimization through innovative solutions.

By recovering these oak trees after Hurricane Sandy, Lehigh continuously promotes knowledge on relevant environmental topics and extends learning experiences to the entire community. This initiative emphasizes Lehigh's support for environmental sustainability within campus, engaging students on sustainable actions, and leveraging faculty, staff, and student interest. Beyond that, this process and its impactful outcome has given rise to a new set of policies at Lehigh whereby trees that fall or need to be taken down due to safety risks are assessed for their value as potential building materials. Since Hurricane Sandy, at least four other trees on campus have been salvaged and milled to, one day, be made into furniture or other useful items.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement

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:

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