Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 47.51
Liaison Chris Frantsvog
Submission Date May 1, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Luther College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.60 / 4.00 Maren Stumme-Diers
Assistant Sustainability Coordinator
Environmental Studies
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment ---
Public Engagement ---
Other ---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Over the past two years students have worked to develop Food Purchasing Guidelines for the college to help guide food purchases in various product categories. Students sought a solution for good food going to waste and worked with staff and administrators to develop the Cafeteria to Community Program through which food is packaged and donated to area food pantries twice weekly. Every year, as part of a class, students visit farms that are providing food to Luther and perform informal farm audits, bringing back stories and photos from their experience. Currently a student worker is increasing informal education of food by developing signage and better labeling of sustainable food items in the cafeteria and other dining locations. A team of students is also working to complete the Real Food Challenge Calculator.

Positive outcomes are that many of the students who were engaged with dining services/food projects during their time at Luther are now going out into the world and finding jobs and opportunities in the food system. Students are increasingly connected to the source of their food and are becoming better at asking questions about its origins.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
For the past few years we have had a Green Room Certification Program, through which a work study student would visit the rooms of students who had requested an audit and talk to them about energy usage. For the 2014 energy competition the goal will be to audit as many first year student rooms as possible, with a cash prize going to the residence hall that has the most audits. Students are also involved with biodiesel production and starting February 2014 we may hire 10-12 students to do a room by room energy analysis in all campus buildings as a way of identifying energy savings. Solar panels power the sustainability house and the ten students living in that house have a way to monitor and track energy usage. Educational signage on the union balcony also educates the campus community and visitors about renewable energy features.

Students should leave Luther with a heightened awareness of energy - where it comes from and how to reduce its usage.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Students have developed successful proposals for edible landscaping, rain barrels and a green roof. Students are involved in the implementation, as well as the ongoing maintenance of these projects and they are highlighted on campus tours. Students also produce the biodiesel that gets burned in facilities vehicles in a 50/50 blend.

Positive outcomes are that we now have edibles in nearly every flower pot on campus, two gorgeous edible landscapes on central campus, a large rain barrel that facilities uses in the Summer and a green roof on the link between our science buildings. These campus features instill ideas in students that they can take into the world and implement in their own lives.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Campus committees that consist of faculty, staff and students have come together to develop purchase policies for Paper, Green Cleaning and Energy Star/EPEAT. Policies were principally authored by students, tweaked by the committee and passed along to the Sustainability Council and College Cabinet for approval. Students have also been collaborating with dining services to complete the Real Food Calculator for the 2012-2013 academic year.

The development of these policies involves much collaboration and research into best practices, as well as consultation with the parties that these policies impact most on campus. Students and others are able to see clear results stemming from the implementation of policy and the power of recognizing good practices through policy.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Students developed the proposal for a downtown shopping shuttle, which has been increasing in usage each year. Students also developed, implemented and expanded the bike share program, which is free and open to all members of the campus community. A student and faculty member collaborated to develop open source rideshare software.

Due to our focus on alternative transportation, we have seen a decrease in the number of cars being brought to campus and an increase in usage of transportation programs.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Classes and residence halls have conducted waste audits in various buildings on campus. Students have researched and developed proposals for reusable containers at the "simply to go" window and a proposal has been put forth to reduce the number of trash can liners used on campus. Students and staff collaboratively developed the Cafeteria to Community Program, which diverts good food from the waste stream into quart-sized packages that get flash frozen and delivered to the food pantry for distribution to individuals and families in need of food assistance.

Over 1,000 pounds of food is donated to local food pantries each month. Waste audits provide an awareness of what's in our waste stream and how we can better deal with it.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Students have tested various models of showerheads in the residence halls and conducted surveys to see which low-flow model is preferred by students. Students have also developed proposals for rain barrels and rain gardens, both of which have been implemented.

Water usage has declined 24% since 2010 and the rain barrels and rain garden provide nice educational features to the campus.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Student interns assist with the coordination and staffing of nearly 50 food education events that take place throughout the year. A team of students and staff plan and promote the yearly energy competition. Students, staff and faculty come together on four different sustainability-related task groups - Energy and Water, Food, Purchasing and Waste, Education and Land Use. Students serve on the Sustainability Council and Board of Regents and have their voices heard through channels such as Student Senate.

Students are gaining the leadership skills necessary to make a positive difference in the world.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
Students have researched wages for staff at Luther and compared them to those of other like institutions in the region and organizations within the city of Decorah. They have put forth a proposal to HR for more equitable pay. Cooking classes and gardening classes are available monthly to faculty, staff and students during the lunch period.

In general there seems to be a heightened awareness of health and wellness on campus and members of the campus community are coming together over these initiatives.

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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