Overall Rating Bronze
Overall Score 26.70
Liaison Raymond Bowdish
Submission Date Feb. 4, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

State University of New York at Potsdam
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Heather Sullivan-Catlin
Professor, Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies
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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:

- ENVR 290 Spring 2019 – Trees on campus – Students mapped all the trees on campus to create a tentative plan for where to increase the amount of trees, and tree diversity on campus. The goal is to create a tree planting plan to capture more of our local carbon emissions by growing trees and providing more shade for buildings to lower heating/cooling costs. They will be continuing this work in Fall 2019.
- ENVR 190 Spring 2019 – Increasing Campus Trees – students looked into how to improve carbon sequestration on campus and how many trees and what kind we would need to plant to balance our current carbon output.


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:

- ENVR 290 Spring 2019 – Green Roofs on Campus: Students did research and created a proposal for implementing green roofs (one retrofit, one new design) for green roofs on campus. They found that many of our roofs are incapable of supporting a green roof, but that renovated buildings have options and new construction is being planned for that.


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:

- ENVR 290 Spring 2017 – Heat Waste in Bowman South Dorms: Students surveyed students in the 8 floor Bowman South building to find out their opinions on whether the building is too hot during January and February. In addition, they measured the temperature on each floor and stairwell. Overwhelmingly, students felt it was too hot, and facilities lowered the temperature.
- ENVR 290 Spring 2018 – Solarize SUNY Potsdam: Students researched how many solar panels would be necessary to provide all the electricity needed by SUNY Potsdam and created a map for where those panels might be arrayed.


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:

- ENVR 120 – Meatless Mondays – A group of students looked into how other campuses are implementing lower impact food choices, like vegetarian and vegan options on campus, and what the effects would be on our campus carbon footprint.


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:

- ENVR 290 Spring 2017 – Salt vs Sand on SUNY Potsdam campus roads and pathways: Students looked at the long term impact, both financially and environmentally between using Salt or Sand to de-ice campus paths and roads.
- ENVR 290 Spring 2017 – Preparing for the Emerald Ash Borer on campus: Students created a map of all the ash trees on campus (117) and which ones should be removed to ensure the safety of buildings and students after the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle that kills ash trees, invades campus. Recommendations were made to facilities.


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:

- ENVR 120 Spring 2019 – Reducing food miles: Students researched how far most of the food on campus travels, and what we might be able to do to purchase food from more local sources and what changes would have to be made on campus.


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:

- ENVR 120 – Spring 2019 – Exploring a communal bike share program on campus: Students researched different programs on other campuses and found ways to possibly implement the program on our campus, reusing the bicycles abandoned on campus each year.


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:

2017-2018 – The Environmental Club collected data on the amount of post-consumer food discarded at the dining halls and worked to increase the composting options on campus.
2018-2019 – The Environmental Club completes recycling awareness campaign.
- ENVR 290 Spring 2019 – Removing disposable utensils on campus: Students did research on bringing compostable single use utensils to campus. They found once we have a large enough compost system on campus, the purchasing people are more than willing to switch. In addition, they did research on why students choose to use single use utensils and the likelihood they would purchase their own reusable utensils, using campus surveys.
- ENVR 290 Spring 2018 – Campus Recycling knowledge – Students surveyed the student knowledge about what items on our campus are recyclable and how often students recycle and what limits their ability to recycle.
- ENVR 120 Spring 2019 – Water bottle reduction – Students looked at how other campuses have incentivized reusable water bottles, and how we might implement some of those options on our campus. The goal is to reduce the number of single use plastic water bottles.
- ENVR 120 Spring 2019 – Paper towel waste – Students researched how to reduce paper towel waste and the possible options as alternatives to paper towels.


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:

- ENVR 290 Spring 2018 – Campus hydration strategies & Sustainability: Students survey the student body on whether they liked the taste of the water from water fountains, how often they used hydration stations and what caused them to purchase single use water bottles.
- ENVR 290 Spring 2019 – Grey water on campus: Students looked into how we could capture and repurpose grey water (specifically rain water or water drained off roofs) on campus. A pilot plan was put into place and it’s likely to begin in the 2019-2020 school year.


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:

-ENVR 290 Spring 2018 - Apple Orchard at SUNY Potsdam – Students researched the Campus Master Plan and explored where on campus we could potentially create a fruit orchard, most likely apples. This would provide experience for the biology students in maintaining plants, food for PACES, and improve pollination opportunities for local pollinators.


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:

-Social Justice minor competes capstone project on environmental racism and creates a spoken word piece entitled “Breathe” which she performed at Sustainability Day 2019.


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:

- ENVR 290 Spring 2017 – Increasing student and public engagement with Cecilie Garden: Students did surveys on campus on student interest in volunteering with Cecilie Garden and how best to reach out to students and locals to increase volunteer interest.


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:

-ENVR 290 Spring 2017 - Tower gardens – Students researched where on campus would be most appropriate to house tower gardens to increase green space on campus, improve indoor air quality and staff and student wellness, as well as provide food for dining services.
-Environmental Studies capstone project - student researched potential for installing one or more green walls in interior locations around campus. Her presentation to campus stakeholders emphasized aesthetics, student well-being, and positive cognitive impacts.


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)?:
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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:
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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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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.