Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 79.45
Liaison Lindsey Kalkbrenner
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2020

STARS v2.2

Santa Clara University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Lindsey Kalkbrenner
Director
Center for Sustainability
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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:

COMM 120: Environmental Communication - Students in this course learn tools for analyzing and engaging in public discourse about the environment, drawing on communication theory and research to understand rhetorical strategies used in contemporary environmental debates. At the end of the course, students gain practical experience in using communication research to inform the design of a real world environmental campaign that is employed on campus. Some of these projects have gained traction, leading to the use of compostable utensils instead of plastic and the new ban on plastic straws.


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:

ENVS 131: Environmental Education - Students in this class learn the theories and methods of educating students in topics of the environment and sustainability, with the target audience of K-12 students. As part of this class, students must participate in weekly engagements with students from schools in the community surrounding SCU. One of the weekly engagement opportunities is with the BUG (Bronco Urban Gardens) initiative at SCU's Forge Garden. SCU students at The Forge assist with a garden-based program that engage children connected to Homesafe, a transitional housing facility for families affected by domestic violence located a couple blocks away from the 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:

MGMT 42: Leading from the Triple Bottom Line. This project involved students working with the Center for Sustainability to help achieve SCU’s climate commitment by creating modules to integrate Campus Sustainability Investment Fund project submission/evaluation into their course curriculum. Expanding students’ academic opportunities to submit projects to the fund will increase potential emissions reductions on campus.


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:

In the Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering class (CENG 119: Designing for Sustainable Construction), students learn about design strategies for sustainable commercial and residential construction, using LEED criteria for assessing sustainable construction. With lots of construction on campus and buildings that were built based on LEED principles, SCU provides students with the opportunity to observe sustainable construction and building features first-hand during the lab process.


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:

ENGR 110: Community Based Design: Biogas at the Forge Garden. In this multi-quarter project, students investigated the best combination of organic matter to put into the biogas digester to power cooking. A gas stove at the garden is often used for cooking demonstrations. It was found that the best organic matter to use is a mixture of manure and grass clippings.


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:

Multiple classes use the Forge Garden to discuss food and cooking practices (FREN 23: Intermediate French), the value of school gardens (CHST 191: Internship in Child Studies, ELSJ 22: Solidarity in the Community), and reflect on the value of farming through weekly volunteering (ENVS 155: Food and Environmental Justice). In introductory biology classes, students build compost piles with loggers to measure the temperature throughout the pile’s life cycle and test to determine the presence of bacteria.


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:

The new Urban Forestry Monitoring program has enabled more students to become more involved with the trees on campus and learn more about how to report health conditions or physical anomalies. This plan also engages students to appreciate trees outside of simply planting them, since they can learn more about the way in which different trees grow and adapt to the urban environment.

In one of the introductory environmental science classes (ENVS 21: Intro to Environmental Science), students conduct a soils lab to determine leaf litter decomposition to better understand how different environmental factors impact the decomposition rate of different types of leaves. A subsequent class also surveyed native and non-native pollinators in the Forge Garden for one of the class labs. Furthermore, a communications class (COMM 30: Intro to Digital Film Making) used the Forge Garden to practice filming.


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

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

ENVS 116: Intermediate GIS - Leveraged data collected from Santa Clara University employees from the 2017-18 Transportation Survey: one student identified barriers as well as potential areas for improvement, focusing on trends related to driving and public transportation—commute modes that tend to be more accessible for employees living beyond a walkable or bikeable radius from campus. By visualizing current patterns of faculty and staff commutes, recommendations were made to increase carpooling for employees within a 20-30 minute drive from campus and growth in public transit ridership.


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 2019, a team of mechanical engineers created the project, “WeighstEd”, to collect data on food waste. The team created a standalone receptacle for the Center for Sustainability to install in the dining hall that is ADA-accessible, fully enclosed, Arduino-controlled, and mobile. A tablet installed atop the lid is preloaded with station offerings and meal information, allowing users to select the particular items they are discarding. The inputted data runs a code that opens the lid to allow users to scrape in their food, takes a scale reading, and feeds back information to Google sheets and forms to update trends on which meals and stations are creating the most waste. This information will help to not only prevent food waste, but also inform decisions occurring within the Dining Hall.

Other students in SOCI 35: Introduction to Research Design and Methods, observed usage of Eco-Trays and other sustainability-related behaviors in the on-campus dining hall. They shared a summary of their observations with the Center for Sustainability to improve waste minimization practices in campus dining.


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:

In 2018, one team of civil engineers created a rainwater collection and filtration system for a rural village located in the Buturi region of Tanzania. The project includes designs for gutters, a ferroconcrete storage tank, and a slow sand filter. The design team created prototypes in the Forge Garden to run iterations of their project as they troubleshooted and acquired design/build/implementation experience.


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

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

Students and faculty can submit sustainability project ideas to the Campus Sustainability Investment Fund (CSIF) to have their ideas assessed for feasibility and receive project funding. Submitted projects must have the goal of reducing the campus' carbon emissions in at least one of the following categories: water consumption, energy usage, waste production, and transportation emissions, and must include budget projections, including a return on investment analysis. Students in ENVS 95/195: Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project spend two quarters developing a campus-based project to improve sustainable practices at SCU. Each year, at least one of the groups submits a proposal to CSIF.


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