Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.66
Liaison Enid Cardinal
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rochester Institute of Technology
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Enid Cardinal
Senior Sustainability Advisor to the President
Office of the President
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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:

The University's Climate commitment has been a constant source of educational and research opportunities for students and faculty. Environmental science capstone students have investigated the current carbon storage that natural areas on campus are providing to enable the university to more accurately account for emissions as the university grows and changes. More recently, an interdisciplinary class on climate change has been created. Students in that class work on a final project related to RIT's climate action plan.


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:

Sustainability Institute Hall was designed to be a living laboratory for sustainable technologies. It serves as a research and educational tool for the campus population, businesses and the surrounding community. Students in the sustainability graduate programs have access to the data in the building's control systems, and use it in classes and research projects.


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:

Sustainability Institute Hall was constructed with a fuel cell, wind turbines, and solar array all integrated into the building's micro-grid. Faculty and graduate students use these systems for research purposes and tie them into class work. Waste vegetable oil is a continued source of student research, examining the best possible use of the oil as fuel (for fleet, heating or electricity).


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:

RIT's largest dining venue, works with faculty and classes every year on different sustainability related projects, One particularly successful research project resulted in the elimination of disposable containers in his unit. The student club, Engineers for a Sustainable World, conducted life cycle analysis of various to-go container options; and capstone students in RIT’s Environmental Sustainability Health and Safety program were enlisted to analyze where customers were eating the food they were getting “to-go”. As a result of their findings, his dining venue switched to reusable to-go containers and reverse vending machines to take back empty containers. This switch eliminated the purchase and subsequent landfilling of 94,000 disposable to-go containers annually. He now works with new classes every semester on topics ranging from packing science to graphic design.


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:

Tree audits are taking place in order to understand the variety of tree species on campus and their locations. The campus has 179 acres of federally designated wetlands, which serve as a rich source of biodiversity for classes and research. Environmental Science courses have been inventorying invasive species and developing educational materials for maintenance staff. This will enable the University to institute a strategy for invasive species management on campus.


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?:
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 Transportation:

Through a sustainable mobility class, students reviewed RIT's scope three emissions and provided strategies to reduce them. RIT has installed several charging stations for electric vehicles. There are currently a number of research projects associated with them from optimal pricing strategies for EV parking to energy consumption and ghg emissions reductions associated with their usage.


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:

Faculty members and Graduate students in RIT's Golisano Institute for Sustainability are analyzing the waste generated in campus dining units to assess the potential for energy generation through anaerobic digestion.

Classes in multiple colleges conduct waste audits of various buildings on campus in an effort to better understand opportunities for diversion of materials from the landfill through education, building design, and bin design among others.


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:

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability building collects rainwater and uses that water to flush the toilets. Research is currently underway as to how energy can be harvested from rainwater as it flows downward into the cistern. The findings were integrated into the design of a rainwater collection system at a nearby college.


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:

As a result of student interest and engagement, RIT Student Government established a sustainability committee to help support and advance sustainability initiatives on campus. The committee meets weekly and has representation from all major sustainability related clubs on campus and is open to all students to attend and participate. Sustainability and facilities staff also sit on the committee.


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

Partnerships in Pluralism, is a unique collaborative program which builds campus relationships and develops an understanding of diversity by creating diverse pairs of colleagues within the community, who:
- might not otherwise be able to easily connect, and
- experience structured opportunities to become familiar with each other’s cultural background.

The success of the program has led to the creation of a community program with a similar approach called Person2Person https://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=50916


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

RIT Community/University Partnerships engages students in neighborhood revitalization activities in the city of Rochester while broadening and deepening the educational experience for RIT students. Each project is initially reviewed by the neighborhood leaders and determined to be significant in furthering the neighborhood’s goals for economic revitalization. The collaborative efforts between the community and RIT have provided the neighborhood with valuable tools to expedite their specified objectives, and have allowed RIT students, faculty, and staff a unique opportunity to utilize their professional expertise in a way they would not have otherwise been able. https://www.rit.edu/cla/ucp/media


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:

Flourishing by Design is an “end-to-end” user experience course in which students identify ways design can support the idea of ‘flourishing.’ This course mimics the culture of innovative startups and leading-edge design firms such as IDEO and Frog. The challenge is to define ‘flourishing’ in unique and unexpected ways, and use findings as inspiration for unpredictable social design interventions. Through ongoing research, a series of explorations in audience engagement, and iterative form-making, collaborative teams will aim to arrive at meaningful, sophisticated systems or services that extend beyond one mere product or interface solution and use design to address behavior change on multiple levels. Students examine the concept of wellness and flourishing using the campus and surrounding community.

Previous team projects include:
Team project topics (Spring 2015):

Biome Buddies: Teaching biomes and ecosystems to middle school students
Bio Blox: Engaging families in gardening
Food2You: Improving access to local produce for low-income individuals
Communiplay: Using technology to promote in-person social interactions
RIT Relief: Mental wellness and the community

Team project topics (Fall 2014):

Curbing use of toxic/harmful toiletry and cleaning products
Raising awareness of Rochester's food deserts
Improving participation in recycling on campus
Reducing clutter and reining in overconsumption
Helping students choose healthier dining options

Team project topics (Spring 2014):
Raising awareness of water sustainability issues in terms of:
Promoting tap water
Informing consumers about 'virtual water' content of various products
Gamifying water conservation (between individuals and communities)
Drawing attention to pollutants


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:

Campus and community resilience: Working with the Rochester Sustainability Collaborative (RSC), through and independent study project, a student and faculty member are inventorying sustainability and resilience efforts at RIT and within area organizations. RSC will use their findings to help identify collaborative projects that will advance sustainability and resilience efforts in the community.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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