Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.59
Liaison Susan Dorward
Submission Date Aug. 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

Raritan Valley Community College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Susan Dorward
Sustainability and Energy Coordinator
Facilities and Grounds
"---" 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:

Composting and Zero Waste Interns created a Waste Sorting Pledge. Student volunteers worked with the interns to engage students about how to sort their waste (food scraps, recyclables, trash) properly and asked them to sign the pledge.


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:

Students in ENVI102 work in the community, building and maintaining rain gardens. Faculty and students also host a "Little Scientists" night once or twice a year, inviting elementary school students to learn about STEM subjects, including composting, planting in pots they make from newspaper, and making birdhouses. Members of the local Rotoract Club are invited to planting activities for our campus Enabling Garden.


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:

The College is forming an Energy Committee, which has a mandate to examine how the College can move off of fossil fuels. The committee has student members.


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:

RVCC taken over a historic farmhouse at the edge of campus and is using it as a demonstration house for energy and sustainability. A 5 kW solar array has been installed. The Commercial Energy Management program is using the house for blower door tests (infiltration), load calculations (heating, cooling), live training on hydronics (the site has a boiler), and level-2 energy audits. The Center for Environmental Studies is using it for historical ecology lessons. RVCC has a binder of documents that were compiled when the building was preserved in the late 2000s. The Center is investigating creating a sustainable agriculture plot started behind the building, adding fencing, and installing seedlings raised in the new greenhouse.


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:

The Environmental Control Technology program regularly does energy projects on campus as part of their coursework. The Facilities Department regularly gives tours of the cogeneration (combined heat and power) plant on campus. The cogen plant and solar panels are stops in the campus eco-tour.


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:

Student members of the Environmental Sustainability Committee spearheaded an effort to incorporate sustainable food principles into the College's recent dining RFP. They wrote, executed, and analyzed a campus-wide food survey that included questions about support for more sustainable food options (such as vegan and vegetarian alternatives). They also developed sample menus with sustainable food options.


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:

Environmental studies and Environmental Club students use the new campus greenhouse to grow plants for planting on campus. In Spring 2022, they are growing sunflowers to plant by the West building. The students are also using soil amendment from the new campus composter in their plantings. They are investigating ways to convert the soil amendment to compost. Students also analyze deer activity and browse, and do invasive species removal on campus.


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:

Student members of the Environmental Sustainability Committee and the Community Life Committee have been working on providing sustainable and healthy food on campus. They have worked directly with the VP of Finance, who manages Purchasing and develops RFPs. The Community Life Committee has found healthy, fresh food vending machine options that the College is pursuing.


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:

A student intern is piloting a campus rideshare program for students. (This was on hiatus during the covid shutdown.) The campus EV charging stations are a stop on the campus eco-tour.


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:

The ENVI101 Intro to Environmental Studies class conducts campus clean-ups twice a year. We also usually have a Campus Race to Zero Waste/RecycleMania intern that collects recycling data, and in 2022 interns are writing a case study about minimizing food waste on campus. In 2021-2022 we also had grant funding for student interns to deploy the use of our new campus composter and work to improve food waste collection on campus.


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:

The campus is being recertified as "River Friendly" by the NJ Water Supply Authority, and Ecology students contributed to this by conducting stream assessments and bathouse evaluations on campus. Representatives of the River Friendly program gave a presentation at a ENVI102 class about stormwater basin management, and they visited one of the campus stormwater basins to see how it functions.


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:

Students are involved in planning for sustainable dining options (dining RFP) and energy planning (Energy Committee).


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:

The campus has a Resource Center with a food pantry, which is run by the head of RVCC's Nursing program. Students work and volunteer with the Resource Center, and it also serves as a safe, welcoming space on campus. The mission of the Resource Center program is to bring together both primary and secondary resource supports in order to empower under-resourced as well as resourced student participants. The project is a unique initiative that combines education and relationship building for students who lack available financial, personal, and support system resources to succeed in college. Its intent is to build collaboration among a variety of community resources to help alleviate the many barriers that serve to prevent low-income and underserved students from achieving their educational goals.


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

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

Student members of the Environmental Sustainability Committee and the Community Life Committee provided input on sustainable dining to the VP of Finance for the 2022 dining services RFP and vending machines. This included conversations about affordability, pricing, and the financial considerations for the College and the prospective vendors.


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:

(This also applies to Diversity and Affordability.) The campus has a Resource Center with a food pantry, which is run by the head of RVCC's Nursing program. Students work and volunteer with the Resource Center, and it also serves as a safe, welcoming space on campus. The mission of the Resource Center program is to bring together both primary and secondary resource supports in order to empower under-resourced as well as resourced student participants. The project is a unique initiative that combines education and relationship building for students who lack available financial, personal, and support system resources to succeed in college. Its intent is to build collaboration among a variety of community resources to help alleviate the many barriers that serve to prevent low-income and underserved students from achieving their educational goals.

As mentioned under Purchasing, student members of The Community Life Committee has found healthy, fresh food vending machine options that the College is pursuing.


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