Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Jack Byrne
Submission Date May 1, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Middlebury College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Jack Byrne
Director of Sustainability Integration
Environmental Affair
"---" 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 Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment Yes
Public Engagement Yes
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:

Biology Professor Andi Lloyd taught a first-year seminar about forests and carbon neutrality at Middlebury. The couse explored the ecological consequences of increased use of forests for energy production and examined how the shift towards biomass-based energy contributes to Middlebury’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality. Using both published research and their own field investigations at local research sites, the class explored the ability of the local landscape to supply biomass, and consider the possible unintended ecological consequences of that change in land use.


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:

Isaac Baker '14 completed an analysis of energy efficiency and solar hot water potential for smaller Middlebury College housing in May 2013 with Professor Steve Trombulak. Isaac found that based on the energy audits, energy efficiency work has the potential to save the College a great deal of money over the long term, while also increasing resident comfort, improving the structural integrity of these buildings, and reducing the College's carbon footprint.


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:

The Middlebury College Organic Farm (MCOF) is a student organization that maintains a 3-acre plot of fruits and vegetables. The produce grown reflects a balance between efficient, profitable crops and more labor intensive, less productive crops grown for educational purposes. The farm has an outdoor classroom and some of the food grown is sold to the dining hall or at a seasonal weekly farm stand. Participants aim to not only come to understand the problems with industrial agriculture, but also explore and help develop local, organic solutions.


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:

The Office of Sustainability Integration, Professor of Pyschology Michelle McCauley, Abby Karp '14, and the Energy and Technology Manager are working on a set of projects aimed at increasing positive environmental actions on campus, the first of which will examine the role reminders, goal-setting, and information about individual action on pro-environmental behavior. This process will extend across a number of academic years. Specifically for this first project, the group is conducting an experiment beginning in February 2014 to look at the influence of visual reminders of group energy consumption (presented digitally on a wall mounted iPad), personal self-set goals, and energy-saving advice on students actual electricity use and other self-reported pro-environmental behaviors (e.g., taking shorter showers). The group is also considering participants’ pre-existing environmental beliefs to gain a more focused sense of how these relate to individuals’ motivations and actions.


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:

Plant Biology students contributed to the campus tree map and have continued to survey the plants on the roof of Atwater dining hall with the guidance of the College Horticulturist Tim Parsons. A Biology thesis student, Jake Lessing '14.5, recently studied poison parsnip with seeds collected from campus for his work on pesticide transfer between plants.


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:

The Environmental Council and Real Food Challenge interns are in the process of researching food purchasing over the past two years. They are assessing how much of the College food is local and how much the College pays for local food. This data will be used for recommendations regarding food purchasing at the College.


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 in the Environmental Council are currently researching the feasibility of installing an electric vehicle charging station on campus. In 2013 Hilary Platt '12.5 did an independent study researching the potential of banning first-year cars and the method for doing so.


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:

In the class, "Food Geographies," taught by Geography Visiting Assistant Professor Kacy McKinney, students explore an issue related to food and/or agricultural systems and the Middlebury College campus community. Potential topics include: tracking the campus food and connections across other scales, looking at how we build connections to our community through food-related service work, communicating food waste data, mapping the path of food to waste on campus, dining staff oral histories, and Dinner with Strangers.


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:

Isaac Baker '14 researched the use of solar hot water in a residential buildings on Middlebury's campus. He focused on one small house and found that more people are needed to use hot water in a given building for there to be savings. As a result, he proposed the use of solar hot water in two larger residential buildings.


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:

The College will soon begin a search for its new president and students have been asked to express their interest in serving on the search committee. Students will work with staff, faculty, trustees, and alumni throughout the rest of the semester and into next fall.

Students in the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) club reviewed the changes to the governance structure of the College and are in the process of working toward the implementation of multiple proposals to increase student participation in College decisions.


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:

As part of the course, "Models of Inclusive Education," students were charged with exploring issues of inclusion at Middlebury College. They formed task force teams around a variety of issues including, institutional diversity; gender and sexuality; socio-economic status; temporary and unexpected disability; inclusive pedagogy and curriculum; social houses, clubs, and athletics; mental health and the “myth of the normal student.” From these topics they conducted various forms of research (including surveys, interviews, focus groups, quantitative data analysis, and analysis of current handbook and mission statement language.)

Students in the Spring 2012 “Models of Inclusive Education” course produced lengthy task force reports. Additionally, the class synthesized their finding and recommendations and presented them at the Spring 2012 Student Research Symposium. In the Fall of 2012, students took those reports and recommendations and analyzed the work that had already been done, met wherever possible with the prior authors of the task force reports, conducted additional research and created addenda and synthesized the findings of the reports.


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:

The Wellness Committee, which consists of faculty, staff, and students, organized the two day visit of Professor David Levy regarding the integration of contemplative practices with online living. The Wellness Committee has also organized the upcoming (March 10, 2014) event of Cal Newport: "Success Without Stress: Escaping the Cult of Overwork."

Meditation sessions are held twice a week at the Wonnacott Commons house, open to students faculty and staff.

There has been a increase in the number of professors incorporating contemplative practices in their courses and Studio Art Professor John Huddleson recently taught a Winter Term course focusing on the examination and practice of contemplative practices.


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:

Faculty, students, and staff have actively engaged in the topic of fossil-fuel divestment at Middlebury College over the past two years. Students involved sought to foster a more literate and active campus conversation around the issue. Members of the group met with Vice President of Finance Patrick Norton and President Ron Liebowitz to learn about Middlebury’s finances and investment practices. The administration organized an endowment panel and student divestment panel. Seven students presented the case for fossil-fuel divestment to the full Board of Trustees. Although the trustees decided not to support divestment at this time, the conversation has continued. SRI created a new sub-group, the Research and Investment in Social Equity (RISE) fund, that will focus on investing $150,000 of the College’s endowment in companies that demonstrate strength in sustainability and social responsibility in addition to considering traditional financial indicators.


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:

In the senior capstone course, Environmental studies majors collaborate with community organizations to help address current environmental issues in our region and beyond. For example, students in the Fall 2012 ES 401 Seminar on Sustainable Transportation presented their research on bicycle and pedestrian access in Vergennes, VT in their presentation, 'Cultivating Community through Sustainable Transportation,' to the City of Vergennes.


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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