Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.78
Liaison Jenny McNamara
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

Portland State University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Emily Quinton
Education + Outreach Coordinator
Campus Sustainability Office
"---" 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?:
Yes

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

In a freshmen inquiry course, students conducted No Scrap Left Behind, a weeklong event to track and raise awareness about food waste in campus eateries. Other students in the course conducted observational data collection near campus food cart pods and take-out style dining options. Based on their observations and interactions with the campus community, the students developed recommendations and presented them to campus waste management and food service staff to reduce post-consumer food waste.

Students partnered with waste management staff to conduct an audit of the recycling stream in a large academic building. Using data from the recycling sort, students designed educational infographics that displayed both quantitative results and tips on how to better sort recycling.

Students studied campus food systems and conducted a survey to understand how student residents use food scrap collection programs in two residence halls. These food waste collection systems were developed several years prior and had not been evaluated. The students sought to understand whether or not student residents are aware of the option to compost and how the system works for students that do.


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:

The Montgomery Pop-Up Plaza was a culmination of multiple terms of Living Lab projects with undergraduates designing and proposing ideas to turn "pedestrianize"" (close to vehicles) a block of SW Montgomery in the heart of campus. In May 2019 the street was officially closed as a pilot and a variety of events and activities were held with the help of students. The pilot resulted in a longer-term street closure, currently pending approval for permanent closure and transformation into a public space.

Undergraduate and graduate urban planning students held a pop-up design charrette on the skybridge network, which connects a number of PSU buildings. The students proposed and accepted ideas to add plants, furniture, and lighting to the skybridge, in order to create a safer, healthier, and more accessible public space.

In Fall 2020, a project was launched with first year students to work towards a fully accessible and digital online campus art collection. In this first phase of the project, students began collecting narratives from the campus community, local art experts, artists, and the public on pieces in the campus art collection to eventually compile and make available through a digital archive.


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:

A graduate student continued research on options for offsite and onsite renewable energy procurement and development options.

An engineering and architecture student are working together with mechanical engineering faculty to conduct a year-long study of outdoor versus indoor air quality at the Karl Miller Center, a passively ventilated building at PSU. The results will be shared with building operations staff and may inform how the building automation systems are programmed.

A student reviewed the use of life cycle assessment in higher education construction and building decisions, to recommend next steps for addressing the lifetime impact of buildings on carbon emissions and other environmental factors.

An engineering capstone project focused on recommending changes to egress patterns in one of the campus parking structures. The recommended changes are intended to ensure safety of pedestrians and drivers, and to reduce air quality impacts of unnecessary idling.


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:

Two Green Building student interns study building performance and develop recommendations for improvements to campus buildings each summer.

A graduate student researched and designed a green leasing program which, if implemented, would better align tenant spaces with institutional design standards, including resource-efficient appliances, low-emitting materials and finishes, and more.

Undergraduate students meaured lighting levels in the student union building to help inform future lighting retrofits and consider lighting levels for accessibility, safety, and energy savings. They shared lighting levels, mapped to the building's floorplan, with building operations staff.

An engineering capstone conducted a feasibility assessment of renovating the Harrison Street Building to Living Building challenge standards. They focused most on the energy and water petals, and considered how the building could become net zero energy and net zero water.


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:

A graduate student continued research on options for offsite and onsite renewable energy procurement and development options.

A graduate student conducted a feasibility study for solar and storage at the Viking Pavilion, PSU's basketball arena. The project considered emergency management benefits, as this building would be used as a shelter in an emergency. Project estimates and recommendations were presented to sustainability, facilities, construction, and emergency management staff.

An engineering capstone conducted a feasibility assessment of renovating the Harrison Street Building to Living Building challenge standards. They focused most on the energy petal, and considered how the building could become net zero energy.


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:

In a freshmen inquiry course, students conducted No Scrap Left Behind, a weeklong event to track and raise awareness about food waste in campus eateries. Other students in the course conducted observational data collection near campus food cart pods and take-out style dining options. Based on their observations and interactions with the campus community, the students developed recommendations and presented them to campus waste management and food service staff to reduce post-consumer food waste. Ideas included changing dining hall serving arrangements; altering waste bin signage and infrastructure, and more.

Students studied campus food systems and conducted a survey to understand how student residents use food scrap collection programs in two residence halls. These food waste collection systems were developed several years prior and had not been evaluated. The students sought to understand whether or not student residents are aware of the option to compost and how the system works for students that do.


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:

Two students conducted a study of baseline ecosystem services on the block of SW Broadway on campus, to inform the "Broadway Aboretum" vision. A monoculture of Norway Maples on this street will be replaced in coming years; the students worked with a faculty member to estimate current ecosystem services and model ecosystem services under different tree replacement options. Once the tree replacements begin, the modeled scenarios can be compared to the actual tree selection.

Environmental Science graduate students are working on a two-year project to evaluate stormwater infrastructure on the PSU campus. They selected a subset of features, including ecoroofs, bioswale, and flow-through planters to understand how these features function and how they are maintained to provide the services intended in their design. By building a stormwater management model, they will evaluate how these features will perform under changing climate and rainfall patterns.


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:

A graduate student researched and designed a green leasing program which, if implemented, align tenant procurement practices with the University Sustainable Procurement and Life Cycle Consideration Policy.

A student reviewed the use of life cycle assessment in higher education construction and building decisions, to recommend next steps for addressing the lifetime impact of buildings and purchasing decisions on carbon emissions and other environmental factors.


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:

Using publicly available data on the City of Portland's bike share program, Biketown, a geography student conducted data analysis and developed an online Story Map to explore trip origin, destinations, and ride time on and around the PSU campus. The analysis was presented to identify potential priority areas for PSU's Transportation and Parking Services department when considering how to promote the Biketown program, where to place future stations, and how to advocate for services from Biketown to better meet the needs of PSU commuters.

A Civil Engineering capstone group studied City and other relevant codes and design standards to design a "floating bus island" stop for SW Broadway on campus. The proposed floating bus stop, presented to Transportation and Parking Services staff, would replace and consolidate two existing stop for better service and efficiency. The design, if implemented, would also provide better cyclicst and pedestrian safety.

An engineering capstone project focused on recommending changes to egress patterns in one of the campus parking structures. The recommended changes are intended to ensure safety of pedestrians and drivers, and to reduce air quality impacts of unnecessary idling.


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:

In a freshmen inquiry course, students conducted No Scrap Left Behind, a weeklong event to track and raise awareness about food waste in campus eateries. Other students in the course conducted observational data collection near campus food cart pods and take-out style dining options. Based on their observations and interactions with the campus community, the students developed recommendations and presented them to campus waste management and food service staff to reduce post-consumer food waste. Ideas included changing dining hall serving arrangements; altering waste bin signage and infrastructure, and more.

Students partnered with waste management staff to conduct an audit of the recycling stream in a large academic building. Using data from the recycling sort, students designed educational infographics that displayed both quantitative results and tips on how to better sort recycling. A high rate of contamination was found in the recycling stream and students reflected on how their findings relate to global recycling trends.

Students studied campus food systems and conducted a survey to understand how student residents use food scrap collection programs in two residence halls. These food waste collection systems were developed several years prior and had not been evaluated. The students sought to understand whether or not student residents are aware of the option to compost and how the system works for students that do.


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:

Three consecutive Civil & Environmental Engineering capstone groups have studied PSU's wells and other water sources to serve as a potable water supply in an emergency or major earthquake. Working with Facilities and Emergency Management staff, the students recommended a water storage system and initial plans to use one specific campus well near the science building in an emergency, laying the groundwork for future Living Lab projects to explore a mobile pump power source.

Environmental Science graduate students are working on a two-year project to evaluate stormwater infrastructure on the PSU campus. They selected a subset of features, including ecoroofs, bioswale, and flow-through planters to understand how these features function and how they are maintained to provide the services intended in their design. By building a stormwater management model, they will evaluate how these features will perform under changing climate and rainfall patterns.

An engineering capstone conducted a feasibility assessment of renovating the Harrison Street Building to Living Building challenge standards. They focused most on the energy and water petals, and considered how the building could become net zero energy and net zero water.


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:

Two student capstone groups studied PSU's commercial real estate portfolio to understand how retail tenants can support the needs of the diverse PSU community. The project included looking at both existing tenants and upcoming vacant spaces. Surveys were used to capture information from the PSU community about wants and needs from campus retail options, including the type of retail available, cost of goods and/or services, and more. Students developed recommendations to inform leasing priorities of upcoming vacant spaces.

Using publicly available data on the City of Portland's bike share program, Biketown, a geography student conducted data analysis and developed an online Story Map to explore trip origin, destinations, and ride time on and around the PSU campus. The analysis was presented to identify potential priority areas for PSU's Transportation and Parking Services department when considering how to promote the Biketown program, where to place future stations, and how to advocate for services from Biketown to better meet the needs of PSU commuters.

A student reviewed the use of life cycle assessment in higher education construction and building decisions, to recommend next steps for addressing the lifetime impact of buildings and purchasing decisions on carbon emissions and other environmental factors.


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:

Two student capstone groups studied PSU's commercial real estate portfolio to understand how retail tenants can support the needs of the diverse PSU community. The project included looking at both existing tenants and upcoming vacant spaces. Surveys were used to capture information from the PSU community about wants and needs from campus retail options, including the type of retail available, cost of goods and/or services, and more.


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:
---

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

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

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

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.