Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.63
Liaison Karen Oberer
Submission Date Dec. 11, 2020

STARS v2.2

McGill University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Karen Oberer
Sustainability Officer
McGill Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:

ENVR 401 is a upper-year course in which students work in an interdisciplinary team on a real-world research project involving problem definition, methodology development, ethical research approval, execution of the study, and dissemination of results to the research community and to the people affected. Students often use the campus and the McGill community as a ""living lab"" for their research. Below is an example of one ENVR 401 project from 2019.

ENVR 401 project: Spatial Distribution of Soil Contamination Sites and Socio-Economically Vulnerable Populations in Montreal (2019)
This study aimed to examine the spatial distribution of contamination across the city, to identify the distribution of soil contamination and the communities that are most impacted by its potential adverse effects. The purpose of this research was to identify if the distribution of contamination is equally distributed across all ethnic and income groups, or if there is presence of environmental injustice, potentially due to biased government planning and management.

https://www.mcgill.ca/mse/programs/mse-courses/401-research-projects/2019


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

MSUS 401 project: Carbon Offsets project (2019)
MSUS 401: Sustainability Consulting is a course offered as part of the Managing for Sustainability major program. The courses allowed students to conduct research and present suggestions to improve sustainability programs on campus.

In Fall 2019, students in MSUS 401 worked on a project to create a carbon offset program at McGill. The student team recommended that McGill emphasize reducing their air travel emissions by improving the videoconferencing infrastructure, incentivizing alternative modes of transportation, and an educational campaign regarding carbon offsets. The team concluded that it is essential that stakeholders are consulted in the project selection process, and they created an implementation plan to continue the program.

https://reporter.mcgill.ca/mcgill-students-solve-sustainability-problems-through-applied-student-research-program/


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:

ENVR 401 is a upper-year course in which students work in an interdisciplinary team on a real-world research project involving problem definition, methodology development, ethical research approval, execution of the study, and dissemination of results to the research community and to the people affected. Students often use the campus and the McGill community as a ""living lab"" for their research. Below is an example of one ENVR 401 project from 2017.

LEED O+M Criteria Bronfman Building (2017)
LEED O+M Criteria Bronfman BuildingThe objective of our project was to develop an analysis of how to best fulfill LEED O+M criteria for the Faculty of Law at McGill University; specifically, Old Chancellor Day Hall, New Chancellor Day Hall, and Gelber Library. This Applied Student Research (ASR) project was part of a wider SPF-funded project entitled ""LEEDing Operations and Maintenance,” which aimed to pursue LEED O+M certification for one building from each of the four different building types at McGill (education, administration, housing and athletics), in order to implement and analyze sustainable building management practices beyond the initial construction and/or renovation of the building.

https://www.mcgill.ca/mse/programs/mse-courses/401-research-projects/2017
https://mcgill.ca/sustainability/leeding-operations-and-maintenance-sp0156


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:

ENVR 401 is a upper-year course in which students work in an interdisciplinary team on a real-world research project involving problem definition, methodology development, ethical research approval, execution of the study, and dissemination of results to the research community and to the people affected. Students often use the campus and the McGill community as a ""living lab"" for their research. Below is an example of one ENVR 401 project from 2019.

ENVR 401 project: Creation of a McGill Events Carbon Calculator (2019)
The final research project enlisted the main objective of raising awareness and educating the wider McGill community about event-based carbon emissions, and offering a tangible and realistic method to partake in combating such emissions.

https://www.mcgill.ca/mse/programs/mse-courses/401-research-projects/2019


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:

McGill Feeding McGill (ongoing)
Since 2010, the horticultural research station on the Macdonald campus (""Mac Farm""), about 30 minutes from downtown Montreal, has been supplying produce, eggs and ground beef to Student Housing and Hospitality Services. Mac Farm grows around 20 different varieties of fruit and vegetables, including apples, asian pears, plums, melons, kale, garlic, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers. Mac Farm is the largest supplier of local fresh in-season produce. Over 75% of whole eggs served on campus are sourced from Mac Farm (2017-18). Students provide thousands of labour hours per year.

Several courses in the Farm Management and Technology program use the hydroponic setup (used in growing various leaf vegetables), as part of their instruction methods. In the past, other courses have used the crop fields needed by the MFM project to illustrate certain aspects of crop production (e.g., Plant Pathology and Cropping Systems).

As this was initially an SPF-funded project, the applicants submitted a detailed report at the end of the project assessing its impact on the McGill community, the successes and challenges in implementation, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future. The project has been ongoing since 2010.

https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/sp0099-mcgill-feeding-mcgill-4


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:

Montreal’s Urban Sustainability Experience (MUSE) is a summer field semester based on the island of Montreal. MUSE focuses on exploring and establishing aspects of urban sustainability while emphasizing both theoretical and empirical knowledge. By encouraging student-driven learning, MUSE creates a learning environment with a high level of engagement among students, professors, and the local community. MUSE students help create a hands-on, integrated, and interdisciplinary learning experience that transcends the boundaries of traditional undergraduate education.

As part of the Hochelaga project, MUSE cohorts build upon previous knowledge of Indigenous sites around McGill. Additionally, teams researched and are awaiting approval to implement a rain garden on one of McGill's green spaces to help manage runoff more effectively.

https://www.mcgill.ca/mse/montreal-urban-sustainability-experience


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:

ENVR 401 is a upper-year course in which students work in an interdisciplinary team on a real-world research project involving problem definition, methodology development, ethical research approval, execution of the study, and dissemination of results to the research community and to the people affected. Students often use the campus and the McGill community as a ""living lab"" for their research. Below is an example of one ENVR 401 project from 2019.

ENVR 401 project: Social and Environmental Assessment of McGill’s Top Suppliers along their Supply Chains (2019)
The overarching goal of this project was to evaluate social and environmental impacts in the supply chains of McGill’s top suppliers. This goal encompassed four main objectives: evaluate the performance of McGill’s top suppliers; assess the suppliers’ efforts to mitigate environmental and social impacts; identify key risks and barriers in addressing these impacts; and finally, recommend strategies to mitigate these risks and impacts. To meet these objectives, the student team focused on two issues: conflict minerals in the scientific instruments sector and sustainable seafood in the food sector.

https://www.mcgill.ca/mse/programs/mse-courses/401-research-projects/2019


IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:

The project was a collaborative effort between staff and student interns to add an active transportation option between buildings by adding a fleet of bicycles suitable for gravel roads. Traditionally, staff and students have used cars, electric golf carts or walking to travel between buildings. The bicycles are now equipped with baskets for the transport of light equipment, helmet, lock, fenders, stand. This option allows more efficient travel and especially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This initiative also contributes to a healthy workplace. The fleet serves both resident student interns or researchers who want to access the downtown area of Mont-Saint-Hilaire for shopping after work hours. As well, permanent staff greatly benefit from this additional transportation mode; bicycles are efficient but also provide a welcomed exercise beneficial for stress relief and a healthy lifestyle.

Three student interns were involved in managing the project, which gave them an opportunity for professional growth and the experience of putting together an application to the Sustainability Projects Fund. Student obtain credit for the internship by working the mandatory minimum period of 12 weeks; obtaining a satisfactory evaluation from their employers; and submitting an evaluation and a written report. There are thus opportunities to document and assess what students are learning.

Because this was an SPF-funded project, the applicants have submitted a detailed report at the end of the project assessing its impact on the McGill community, the successes and challenges in implementation, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future.

https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/active-transportation-gault-sp0219


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:

ENVR 401 is a upper-year course in which students work in an interdisciplinary team on a real-world research project involving problem definition, methodology development, ethical research approval, execution of the study, and dissemination of results to the research community and to the people affected. Students often use the campus and the McGill community as a ""living lab"" for their research. Below is an example of one ENVR 401 project from 2018.

ENVR 401 project: Better Options for Managing McGill’s Construction Waste (2018)
In 2018, McGill University was in the process of reevaluating current construction and demolition waste (CDW) management practices in the larger context of its commitment to sustainability. Through a semi-structured interview process with a variety of McGill stakeholders and external contractors, students researched how McGill’s CDW could be better managed.

https://www.mcgill.ca/mse/programs/mse-courses/401-research-projects/2018


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:

Sustainable Rainwater and Flood Management (2018)
The project was a collaborative effort between faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students to develop a sustainable and cost-effective rainwater management plan for McGill's downtown campus to sustainably capture rainwater on site and address flooding. Project resulted in a sustainable master plan tested through Personal Computer Storm Water Management Model (PCSWMM) simulations and hydraulic designing of two sustainable measures for on-site implementation.

Because this was an SPF-funded project, the applicants submitted a detailed report at the end of the project assessing its impact on the McGill community, the successes and challenges in implementation, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future. There was thus an opportunity for students to learn from the process.

https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/sustainable-rainwater-and-flood-management-sp0158-0


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:

The Roots Coalition (2018)
The Roots Coalition project created a coalition between all agriculture-related groups on the downtown campus. This coalition was overseen by a student coordinator, with the goal of improving cooperation and resource sharing between gardening groups, as well as promoting educational initiatives and increased awareness on campus. The coordinator established an organizational framework to improve the efficiency, connectivity, and continuity of these groups. The coordinator also established an urban agriculture website that makes it easier for students to learn about and get involved with groups, and provide a space for sharing agricultural knowledge within campus groups and provide links to outside resources.

Because this was an SPF-funded project, the applicants submitted a detailed report at the end of the project assessing its impact on the McGill community, the successes and challenges in implementation, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future. There was thus an opportunity for students to learn from the process.

https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/roots-coalition-sp0192


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

Right to Campus Toolkit (2018)
The Right to Campus was a student-run initiative that aimed to foster increased equity, along with physical and social safety, on and around McGill campus. This project involved the creation of a toolkit -- targeted towards a McGill audience, including university administration, students leaders (in clubs and services), and students in general. The Toolkit is resource to be consulted by students should they seek campus-related information; connectivity and communication with other McGill students, clubs, services, faculty, staff, or administration; or tools to empower them in fostering sustainable social activism, with the goal of promoting greater safety and equity on campus and within the McGill community.

Because this was an SPF-funded project, the applicants submitted a detailed report at the end of the project assessing its impact on the McGill community, the successes and challenges in implementation, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future. There was thus an opportunity for students to learn from the process.

https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/right-campus-toolkit-sp0164
https://www.righttocampus.com/


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

Hydroponic McGill (2019)
Hydroponic McGill was a project started by the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) Environment Committee to place hydroponic gardening systems sold by Nutritower in three of McGill's busiest cafeterias (BMH, New Rez and RVC). By doing so, over a quarter of McGill's undergraduate student body have access to the hydroponic towers, which benefits their wellbeing. Not only is indoor gardening proven to provide mental health benefits, which is especially important in an academic setting, it also promotes accessible healthy eating options, since it can demonstrate how easy it is to grow plants indoors. By having these towers installed in an accessible space, students’ knowledge of sustainable activities increase, as they learn about how to manage sustainable food systems, as well as learning more about where their food comes from.

The hydroponic gardens are also a great opportunity to simultaneously provide green spaces and to educate students on the ease of local, indoor gardening. Moreover, all produce grown is to be donated to Midnight Kitchen, who will benefit from the tower’s easy access and fast growing patterns.

Because this was an SPF-funded project, the applicants submitted a detailed report at the end of the project assessing its impact on the McGill community, the successes and challenges in implementation, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future. There was thus an opportunity for students to learn from the process.

https://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/hydroponic-mcgill-sp0210


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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.