Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Paul Scanlon
Submission Date Feb. 29, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Slippery Rock University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Paul Scanlon
Special Assistant to the President
President's Office/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 Yes
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
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 weather observation station, made available through a PA Department of Environmental Protection grant, is located on campus and available for use in student air quality assessment projects and coursework.

Positive outcomes of this program include the collection of long-term air quality data useful in evaluating items such as the positive impact of installing a baghouse (designed to greatly reduce particulates being released to the local environment from our central heating plant).


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:

SRU currently has several energy dashboards displaying energy outputs in each Residence Hall that students can see on a daily basis in order to encourage them to decrease their energy use. A student worker from the Office of Sustainability helps promote energy conservation and waste minimization in the residence halls by managing a Twitter feed that can be viewed on the dashboards, providing additional information and links to sustainability websites and resources.

The dashboards are used to provide metrics (and competitive encouragement) for residence hall energy and recycling competitions, as well as a "PASSHE Unplugged" competition to reduce electrical energy use among state system universities.

The Office of Sustainability also hires GIS astudent workers to create and update a Campus Sustainability Features Map which locates and explains the benefits of features such as green roofs, rain gardens, photovoltaic systems and permeable pavement. The map is now available for use on SRU's Admissions Tours and can be downloaded from our website at www.sru.edu/sustainability.

Students, as part of their environmental science coursework, also conduct surveys of lighting use in buildings and similar activities to help promote energy conservation on campus.

Positive outcomes of this work include increased student awareness of energy waste and energy conservation potentials, the development of life skills such as managing energy costs for their future homes and businesses, and documentation of energy-wasting practices that inform the Facilities and Planning Department on potential energy conservation measures that can be self-performed.


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:

Student workers in SRU dining halls assist in the dining hall recycling program, as well as in collecting pre-consumer food waste for composting at the Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research. They also collect used cooking oil for recycling into bio-fuels.

AVI, the university's food vendor, uses (and promotes through educational signage, brochures, etc.) many green practices (such as "going trayless", using compostable containers, etc.), and provides vegetarian and vegan food choices. Seasonably- available vegetable produce and cage-free chicken eggs from the Macoskey Center organic farm gardens are also advertised to students and made available at Boozel Dining Hall.

Positive outcomes include increased student awareness of the importance of our food delivery systems (e.g., nutritional and sustainable benefits of reducing food waste, using local and organic foods, reducing food waste, recycling, etc.).

Additional information is available at the "Learn" tab at: http://www.aviserves.com/sru.


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:

SRU's Environmental Problems class students performed a lighting survey on the Advanced Technology and Science Hall and the Spotts World Culture academic buildings, as well as on the football stadium lighting system. This allowed students to actually measure the amount of energy being wasted on a daily basis, and the energy savings achievable just by making conscious choices.

Positive outcomes of activities like the lighting surveys resulted in additional lighting controls being installed at the football stadium and additional light system occupancy sensors being installed in the ATSH classrooms.

Student interns of the Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator program also assisted in completing an energy audit of a local restaurant, learning a valuable skill set for use in the future while helping the owner reduce energy use and operating costs.


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:

Student workers from the Geography, Geology, and Environment Department are using GIS software to map and update physical features of Slippery Rock's campus. They recently completed a map that visually displays all of SRU's campus sustainability features, as well as separate mapping layers showing local Bartramian Audubon Society sanctuaries and many other physical campus features.

Positive outcomes for the students and the general public include:
- Raising awareness of sustainable features on campus;
- Raising awareness of where Audubon Sanctuaries and other environmentally sensitive areas are located on campus;
- Using some of the mapping layers (such as the slope analysis layer) to assist our Grounds crews in evaluating which types of mowing equipment should be used in different areas based on slope steepness, and which steep slopes might be planted with indigenous ground cover to eliminate the use of fuel-consuming weed whackers.
- Using the A.D.A. mapping layer (showing the location of ADA sidewalk curb cuts, automatic door openers, etc.) as a navigational device for the physically challenged.


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:

In 2011, SRU's Purchasing Department placed limits on free Student Printing volume at 500 pages of printing per semester, and removed 450 Faculty desk top inkjet printers to encourage use of more efficient multifunction department equipment. Through the Energy Conservation Policy adopted that year, the purchasing department only buys EPEAT-certified computers and EnergyStar appliances. In 2015 the purchasing department contracted a Print Management system that permits the quantification of printing use at the departmental level.

Positive outcomes of these programs include:
- The reduction of printing by 5.5 million sheets of paper per year and the associated ink and toner that goes along with this printing. Savings from these items is estimated at over $150,000 per year.
- The reduction in energy use of all computers and appliances on campus.
- Increased awareness on the part of students regarding the cost of printing materials (a student worker with the Office of Sustainability helped create and distribute posters at the Bailey Library printing services area describing ways that students can reduce their costs by using special print fonts, narrow margins, double-sided printing, and B&W printing instead of color printing).


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:

Student workers help promote and manage the Green Bike Initiative, which makes approximately fifteen free "loaner bicycles" available (based on a random drawing) to interested students for an entire semester.

The Student Government Association also funds the "Happy Bus", which provides students with free bus service (both on campus and to local retail/grocery stores and entertainment locations).

Positive outcomes of these programs include:
- Health and wellness benefits accruing to students using the loaner bikes. and
- Reduced use of single-occupant automobiles on and off campus, reducing our GHG emissions.


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:

Student workers with the Office of Sustainability help promote residence hall recycling contests run during Earth Week every year, as well as the "Dump and Run" furniture/appliance collection program that sends items left behind by graduates to local charities and reduces our landfill waste.

One of the Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator's student intern projects is the study of the benefits of using photovoltaic-powered "Solar Belly" recycling and trash bins at strategic locations on campus.

Positive outcomes include:
- Increasing awareness of our recycling programs;
- Demonstrating practical uses of PV systems in small applications.


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:

Student workers (shared by the GIS Department and the Office of Sustainability) create and update our Campus Sustainable Features Map that locates and describes the benefits of:
- LEED-Certified Residence Halls that use water-conserving low flow water fixtures;
- Rain gardens, rainwater collection systems, pervious pavement, and a grey water system;
- A connected link of campus waterways and storm water retention ponds designed to reduce storm water runoff and contamination of our local water resources.

These features are located/described on the Campus Sustainable Features Map which can be downloaded from our www.sru.edu/sustainability website for use by students, the general public, and Admission Tour guides.

The positive outcome of the Sustainable Features Campus Map is to increase awareness and educate students about the benefits of water conservation and storm water runoff control.


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:

The Student Government Association (SGA) has formally issued a proclamation committing the organization to support green initiatives on campus, and several officers and senators have been actively engaged in planning new recycling programs (such as improving off-campus student recycling and E-waste recycling days for the Slippery Rock community).

The positive outcomes of these programs include:
- Raising sustainability awareness among the student population;
- Increasing our recycling rate and minimizing the waste sent to the landfill;
- Reaching out to the local community to make them aware that e-waste can no longer be disposed of in landfills; and
- Providing a free and easy way for the local community to properly dispose of e-waste (which is recycled by SRU's EH&S Department through a certified vendor).


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:

President's Commissions on Race and Ethnic Diversity, Disability, Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation, and the Status of Women all have programs aimed at increasing diversity and affordability at SRU.

Positive outcomes of these programs include SRU increasing the graduation rate of under-served students by more than 12% in 2015.


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:

A President's Commission on Wellness was formed in 2014 to coordinate/facilitate educational opportunities related to healthy lifestyles, and to support a wide range of activities such as free nutrition, zumba, yoga, tai chi, and meditation classes, a 10,000 step/day walking program, and a noon jogging club (among others).

Several hiking, biking, and nature trails are also maintained and utilized by individuals as well as groups (the Outdoor Adventure Club, Bicycling Club, etc.), with the Green Bike Program encouraging students to be more active. The "Harness your energy" green fund grant project also educates users of the Rec center elliptical machines regarding how kinetic energy can be converted to useful electricity.

Positive outcomes of these programs include:
- Increased awareness of the benefits of good nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyles, as evidenced by SRU being recognized in 2014 as "One of the Top 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America" by Healthiest Employers, Inc.


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:

None


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:

Slippery Rock University's Robert A. Macoskey Center hosts two festivals every year to celebrate Harvest Fest and Earth Day. The festivals are open to the public, include local food vendors, short workshops (e.g, on composting techniques), tours of the organic gardens and renewable energy systems, and are generally intended to increase environmental and sustainability awareness and appreciation.

The Student Enterprise Accelerator and Office of Sustainability host a speakers series each year to present a variety of sustainability topics open to the public/campus community.

The Office of Sustainability works with the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and other academic/student groups to host and promote sustainability/environmental-focused movie series, guest speakers, environmental cleanup volunteer activities, and many educational activities that are open to the public during Earth Week each year.

The President's Commission on Sustainability includes representatives from both the university and the public at large, and includes a Subcommittee specifically focused on reaching out to the broader community (local businesses, the "Sustainable Slippery Rock" nonprofit, Slippery Rock Rotary Club, and the annual Slippery Rock "VillageFest" organizers).

The Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator, managed by SRU's School of Business, typically involves a dozen student interns who work on a variety of projects aimed at creating sustainable businesses and helping existing local businesses improve their sustainability efforts.

Positive outcomes include:
- The start-up of a student-run "SRU Rock Roast" enterprise for selling triple-certified coffee and using the revenue generated to fund immersive student experiences working at the coffee plantation in South America;
- The construction and R&D of an aquaponics project at the Macoskey Center that is intended to help a small village in Uganda maximize production of nutritious cash crops (tilapia and swiss chard) that require only 10% of the water compared to conventional gardening techniques;
- In general, leveraging of resources among university and community groups interested in promoting sustainability principles and projects.


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:

SRU currently has several students that are involved in the organization "Slippery Rock in Bloom" where students and other individuals promote gardening, harvesting seeds, and engage in environmental cleanups and weeding on campus and in town.


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

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.