Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 48.56
Liaison Jay Meldrum
Submission Date July 8, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Michigan Technological University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jay Meldrum
Executive Director of Sustainability and KRC
Facilities Management
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

Green Campus Enterprise is dedicated to calculating and monitoring its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventory. The goal of calculating GHG emissions at Michigan Tech is to increase environmental awareness as well as reduce its carbon footprint.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

The Alternative Energy Enterprise (AEE) team spearheaded the development of the Sustainability Demonstration House project. The objective is to retrofit the Kettle Gundlach building for energy, water, and gas efficiency. After the renovations, AEE plans to use the house to share sustainability with students and the public and share our experience with those who may be looking to improve the sustainability of their own homes.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

One professor in Material Science department works with students to use campus to research solar PV modules. The Green Campus Enterprise team is conducting a study of wind power feasibility on Michigan Tech owned, Mont Ripley. The Alternative Energy Enterprise (AEE) conducted feasibility studies of Geothermal energy potential for MTU's campus, among other clean and renewable energy projects.

AEE regularly assists local residents and other Michigan organizations with assistance in Solar Panel design and installation projects. Example include the Michigan DNR for adding Solar Panels to State Parks and Fish Hatcheries, and a summer camp in Fortune Lake to add solar panels pus batteries for light heating, lighting, and cell phone charging.

AEE also designed a novel "side of building" Solar Panel installation to help lower the cost of energy at the Lake Shore Center.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

A group of students in the Green Campus Enterprise are working with Dining Services to investigate the saving in food waste by implementing multi-use containers and the elimination of food trays to reduce the "take it and throw it away" practice of some students whose "eyes are bigger than their stomachs."


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

Many projects within the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science focus on research specifically related to MTU campus grounds. An example of this includes the summer and fall research camps at the Ford Forestry Center. Some professors work with students to assess the effects of climate change on MTU forests, environment, and translate these findings to forest management suggestions to mitigate climate change effects.

MTU has been accepetd in the Tree USA program. Classes and open events are scheduled around Arbor Day to educate the community in tree management.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

One professor is working with a few students to pursue a solvent recycling system for the Chemistry department. This project includes biogas and composting from University food waste. Another professor in the Social Sciences department led a class project focusing on waste and recycling at Michigan Tech. For that project they collected, analyzed and reported on data about how MTU handles waste and recycling.

A group of students in AEE and Consumer Products Manufacturing (CPM) is working on an anaerobic composting project to divert MTU's food waste. This group of students is conducting an anaerobic composting experiment in basement of the Chemical Engineering building shows promise for compost material. In addition, the team has researched and received a grant for a dehydrating compost system. This will be implemented in the dining halls to divert food waste from the landfills while providing valuable fertilizer for campus gardens.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

Michigan Technological University houses the Great Lakes Research Center which has several laboratories involved in water system research. Projects include:
- Analyzing local streams and lakes for contaminated copper mining waste leaching
- Field measurements to support the modeling of mercury and organic contaminants in the Great Lakes basin
- Monitoring Great Lakes health
- Documenting food-web impacts of exotic species in the Great Lakes and inland lakes
- Determining effects of global climate change on the inter-related Great Lakes system
- Evaluating regional effects of mining on lake ecosystems
- Mitigating heavy-metal transfer rates from contaminated lake-bottom muds to lake water
- Studying the role of diporeia zooplankton in the Lake Superior food web


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

One professor works with students in attempts to improve campus adaptive reuse and campus design. Through planning, these projects focus on moving campus to more sustainable practices.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:

The College of Business teaches responsible management of University funds through innovative instruction on Investment and Finance.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

In one course, the Science, Technology, and Society, the professor includes engagement with built environment as students examine campus to understand arguments about relationship between technology and society (students walk around campus to visualize both potentials and challenges).

Additionally, Dr. Richelle Winkler works with students and the surrounding community to conduct sustainability projects. Examples of previous projects include: Waste assessment for the cities of Houghton and Hancock, developing a community solar project in the Village of L'Anse, and conducting a feasibility study for geothermal energy in Calumet, Michigan. Students engage with the local community to develop potential sustainability projects.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

One component of the wellness initiative at MTU is to bring training to benefit employees. SWEAT is a wellness program designed to assist employees in getting and staying active. Each spring, SWEAT teams up with the Personal Training class in the Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology department to offer personal training with a student trainer and a 6-week SDC membership.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

One professor conducts some coursework involved in HVAC system optimization for sustainability.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Many professors feel utilizing campus as a living laboratory only occurs at a surface level. There is a need for a long term sustainability plan, more public engagement and implementation campus wide, more publicity/visibility for Sustainability House and implementation across campus.

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.