Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 54.46
Liaison Delicia Nahman
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Lehigh University
IN-26: Innovation C

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

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Mapping Lehigh’s Campus Metabolism: Generating System Conceptual Models and Determining Key Stakeholders

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:

During the Summer of 2017 a graduate student began working on a project to map Lehigh’s campus metabolism, generate conceptual models, and determine key stakeholders. The purpose of this project was to gain a comprehensive, integrated systems understanding of Lehigh’s material inflows, stocks, transformations, and outflows for each of four subsystems: energy, water, food, and materials. This integrated systems thinking is called the campus metabolism approach. The idea of the campus metabolism approach is relatively new and, as such, only one other university (that we know of) is currently utilizing this approach.

This student project was part of the Lehigh Master of Engineering degree in energy, under the auspices of the Energy Systems Engineering Institute. The M. Eng. program is a ten-month, 30-credit curriculum that prepares students to assume technical leadership roles in the evolving energy field. The project is 6 credits conducted over two semesters.

This student project was part of the Lehigh Master of Engineering degree in energy, under the auspices of the Energy Systems Engineering Institute. The M. Eng. program is a ten-month, 30-credit curriculum that prepares students to assume technical leadership roles in the evolving energy field. The project is 6 credits conducted over two semesters.

The project team consisted of one graduate student and one staff mentor. As universities, like Lehigh, aim to become more sustainable, it was important to gain a comprehensive, integrated systems understanding of Lehigh’s material inflows, stocks, transformations, and outflows as well as interconnections, interdependencies, and gaps within the overall campus system. By conceptually mapping the flows for each of four subsystems (water, energy, food, and materials) into, throughout, and out of each subsystem (as well as the transformations within each), the graduate student was able to create a visual model of each subsystem’s structure. A systems approach, which views campus subsystems in a holistic, rather than individualized, manner, will help Lehigh to enhance efficiency, reduce waste, and meet its Campus Sustainability Plan 2020 goals.

The results of this project showed how each subsystem is currently structured at Lehigh and how the subsystem structures could be improved such that the overall system better meets our campus sustainability goals. The graduate student determined that most subsystems were currently structured linearly, which results in inefficiency and a lot of waste. Recommendations were developed that would create more semi-closed or fully-closed feedback loops for each subsystem. Closed loop feedbacks are vital for long term sustainability. The results of this project will inform future work. The data, key stakeholders, and conceptual models from this project will be used to create a data capture framework and visualization mechanism. The visualization mechanism will be a live, highly visible dashboard for each of the four subsystems on campus that shows the inputs, transformations, and outputs taking place. The future project will likely seek opportunities to target specific systems to utilize low cost and wireless sensors for more periodic measurements and accurate process control.

This project is just one example of how Lehigh students, faculty, and staff utilize the campus as a living laboratory and how multidisciplinary student research across campus generates potential solutions that positively impact the institution and the surrounding community. Through projects like this that are focused on sustainability, faculty, staff, and students help to create sustainable change on campus.


Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Energy
Food & Dining
Water

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:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:

The additional documentation submitted above is the final paper for this project. It includes the conceptual models, stakeholders, Sankey charts, and recommendations.

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.