Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 51.85
Liaison Karen Eckert, Ph.D.
Submission Date Nov. 30, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Principia College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Karen Eckert, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Center for Sustainability
"---" 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 No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No
Public Engagement Yes
Other Yes

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:

A capstone project evaluated the campus's forest carbon sequestration and determined that the campus's carbon footprint was offset 100% by The Principia Forest.


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:

A capstone project completed an energy audit of the college's Guest House, providing recommendations to the administration related to upgrades of major appliances, insulation, and windows. In preparation for the audit, the student received his Home Energy Audit License.


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:

Several capstones have examined producing food on campus, including a community farm, raised vegetable plots, aquaponics, beekeeping, and maple syrup production. Results have included a 3-year pilot aquaponics project, a campus Beekeepers Association, and a re-designed Community Garden. Greens from the aquaponics project are donated to Dining Services, and several faculty and staff take advantage of the raised vegetable plots during the growing season.


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:

A capstone project completed an energy audit of the college's Guest House, providing recommendations to the administration related to upgrades of major appliances, insulation, and windows. In preparation for the audit, the student received his Home Energy Audit License.


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:

The campus Tree Advisory Board includes student members, which are involved in making recommendations for tree conservation, care, and plantings. Students help to maintain/ manage Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) plots throughout the Principia Forest - through which students learn sustainable forestry techniques. Students have planted native gardens at their dormitories, a 670-tree native Food Forest on 14 acres of campus land, and completed capstones focused on rain gardens, permaculture design, a campus food garden, and water runoff issues.


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:

A capstone project focused on developing a Green Cleaning Purchasing Standard for the College (see also OP-13). The project was undertaken in partnership with the Center for Sustainability, Facilities/Housekeeping, Dining Services, Contracting, and Work Place Safety and has been adopted by the Administration for campus-wide implementation. The Standard will set the stage for other such purchasing policies to follow (e.g., paper, electronics, furnishings).


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:

The Principia College Solar Car team is comprised of students dedicated to making progress toward solar-powered transportation. The team is a successful global competitor and is active in bringing awareness of solar-powered transportation to the campus and alumni communities.


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:

Capstone projects have focused on achieving zero waste, as well as increasing student access to composting. These projects have enhanced campus awareness of waste disposal issues and successfully integrated composting into 50% of our student residential dorms. Students are also active in reducing reliance on single use plastic bottles and single use hand towels (10% of the student body participated in a pilot program last spring that successfully reduced their paper hand towel use by 82.8%).


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:

Capstone projects have focused on parking surface runoff, rain catchment systems, and the use of rain gardens in sustainable campus landscaping. Recommendations were favorably received by the Facilities Department, and the rain garden designs were favorably received by architects contracted to renovate the college's art studio.


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:
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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:
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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:

In 2014, students put together a Public Affairs Conference with a focus on "Sustainability: Not a Fad, but a Future." The conference highlighted sustainable progress individuals around the world are pursuing and achieving and gave conference goers with ideas, inspiration, and encouragement to go out into the world and make a sustainable difference themselves. The conference was well-attended by students, faulty and staff, community members, and area sustainability professionals.


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:

Students have designed a Sustainability Walking Tour of the campus, started and maintained an apiary and a food forest, created a fall semester Sustainability Weekend and a spring semester Earth Day Fair (films, speakers, games, pollinator dinners, scavenger hunts, vendor booths, crafting, food/music, etc.), and collaborated with the campus Store to inventory more organic, recycled, and locally sourced consumer goods. Finally, the Introduction to Sustainability class (taught to full enrollment every spring) requires students to conduct a Campus Lab to evaluate Principia College against the criteria associated with the 10 One Planet Principles.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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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.