Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 55.24
Liaison Paul Scanlon
Submission Date Feb. 22, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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

Status Score Responsible Party
4.00 / 4.00 Paul Scanlon
Special Assistant to the President
President's Office/Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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:

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 second weather station is also located at the Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Research and Education and used for various education and demonstration purposes.


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:

SRU currently has energy dashboards displaying electrical energy and water use in each Residence Hall that students can see on a daily basis in order to encourage them to decrease their electrical energy and water 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 water conservation competitions.

The Office of Sustainability also hires GIS student workers as needed to create and update a Campus Sustainable 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 (and also as contributing members to the President's Commission on Sustainability's Resource Conservation subcommittee), 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.


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:

SRU's Environmental Problems class students typically perform class projects like conducting lighting surveys on the academic buildings, the football stadium lighting system, etc. This allows students to actually measure the amount of energy being wasted on a daily basis, and understand the energy savings achievable just by making conscious choices.

In the past, positive outcomes of activities like the lighting surveys have resulted in additional lighting controls being installed at the football stadium and additional light system occupancy sensors being installed in classrooms.

Student interns of the Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator program also assist campus departments in participating in the Sustainable Departments Green Leaf self-certification program to help them raise awareness of sustainability issues, reduce energy use, and conserve other resources. Upon completion of the program, the SEA interns then help publicize the results and encourage other departments to participate.


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:

Student workers in SRU dining halls assist in the dining hall recycling program, as well as in collecting pre-consumer food waste for composting by student interns at the Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research on an ongoing basis. They also collect used cooking oil for a local business that recycles it into bio-fuels.

In 2018, student workers at the Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research began operation of a free food pantry for students experiencing food insecurity.

AVI, the university's food vendor, uses (and promotes through educational signage, brochures, occasional nutrition education tabling, 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. A demonstration hydroponics system is located at the end of the salad buffet line in Boozel Dining Hall and used to educate students as well as to grow various lettuces on site.

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.


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:

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 completed and regularly update a map that visually displays all of SRU's campus sustainability features, as well as separate mapping layers showing local Bartramian Audubon Society sanctuaries, wetlands, specimen trees, and many other physical campus features. The student GIS workers have also mapped out a number of unapproved bike trails through wetlands and steep slope areas of campus and worked with the Office of Sustainability to close those trails threatening damage to wetlands and/or soil erosion.

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 mapping of unapproved bike trails to protect sensitive environmental areas on campus; and
- 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.


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

SRU's Purchasing Department placed limits on the volume of free student printing at Bailey Library and removed 450 faculty desktop inkjet printers to encourage use of more efficient multi-function department equipment. Through the SRU Energy Conservation Policy, only EPEAT-certified computers and EnergyStar appliances are purchased. The purchasing department also contracted a Print Management system that permits the quantification/easy access of printing-use data down to the departmental level, encouraging and empowering individual departments to monitor their paper use and minimize wasteful printing.

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. As part of the Library Operations Department Green Leaf Sustainable Department program, library staff created and distributed signage at the Bailey Library printing services area describing ways that students can reduce their costs.


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:

Student workers help promote 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.
- Reduced use of single-occupant automobiles on and off campus, reducing our GHG emissions.


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:

Student workers with the Office of Sustainability help promote residence hall recycling, and School of Business student volunteers run the "Dump and Run" furniture/appliance collection program that sends items left behind by graduates to local charities and reduces our landfill waste. Students also volunteer to staff the recycling center during the annual Free Community E-Waste Collection/Recycling program.

Positive outcomes include:
- Increasing awareness of our recycling programs;
- Reductions in electronic equipment that otherwise could wind up in landfills or be disposed of improperly.


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:

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.


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:

The Student Government Association (SGA) has formally issued a proclamation committing the organization to support green initiatives on campus. The SGA, who owns and operates free shuttle services on and around campus, as well as various students and faculty, have participated in transportation-related surveys that help the Facilities Master Planning consultants to evaluate ways to improve SRU's transportation alternatives.

The positive outcomes of these programs include:
- Raising sustainability awareness among the student population;
- Decreasing the use of single-occupancy vehicles on campus; and
- Development of major changes to the campus transportation network in our Master Plan, including new pedestrian pathways and the separation of vehicle traffic from pedestrian traffic.


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:

The 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. The Office of Sustainability has also co-sponsors programs with these commissions, such as the cosponsoring of a Food Justice speaker program with the Commission on Race and Ethnic Diversity and participation in a panel discussion on the movie "Death by Design" that was sponsored by the Women's Center.

Positive outcomes of these programs include cross-disciplinary co-curricular education programs and SRU increasing the graduation rate of under-served students.


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

The Director of Sustainability regularly guest lectures at sustainability-related classes, providing updates on the University's progress in meeting our climate commitment goal. These lectures include descriptions of how we have used Guaranteed Energy Savings Agreements (GESAs) to reduce campus energy use and costs while improving our learning environments through the inclusion of deferred maintenance projects, having a neutral impact on the University's cash flow, and not affecting our bonding capacity. Also discussed in these lectures are the use of 100% renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements as a method of reducing our carbon footprint and providing a hedge against volatility in energy pricing through such long-term fixed-rate agreements.


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:

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 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 "Village Fest" organizers). A Citizens Climate Lobby chapter was started in Slippery Rock to help promote bipartisan legislation that encourages energy conservation; monthly meetings are held at the Macoskey Center and all members of the community are welcomed to participate.

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. Recently the Office of Sustainability and SEA interns participated in a community-wide "Re-Imagine Butler County" Symposium, which focused on identifying current and future sustainable development opportunities in our area.

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;
- Development of sustainable development opportunities to be shared with local planning commissions; and
- In general, leveraging of resources among university and community groups interested in promoting sustainability principles and projects.


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:

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 by student volunteers 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. and recognition as a Green Ribbon School by the US Department of Education.


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:

The SRU Theater Department develops and hosts the annual Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, which coincides with the President's Commission on Sustainability "Earth Month" every April. The Festival includes a Children's Earth Day Celebration at the Robert A. Macoskey Center (see http://www.sru.edu/life-at-sru/arts-and-culture/kaleidoscope-arts-festival for additional details).


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