Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 81.67
Liaison Mark Lichtenstein
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Mark Lichtenstein
Executive Director of Sustainability
Energy and Sustainability
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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:

In the Environmental Studies 427/627 "Environmental and Energy Auditing" course taught each spring semester, students learn about AASHE, Second Nature, and ESF's climate commitment to achieve a carbon neutral campus. Basic skills for energy and GHG auditing are taught and certain students engage in assessments of campus energy and GHG analysis projects. Students conduct projects related to de-lamping, building energy modeling, carbon sequestration by trees on campus, and similar efforts to reduce ESF's carbon footprint .


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:

Students in various majors, minors, and courses use the campus as a living lab to conduct class projects, honors projects, capstones, and graduate theses related to sustainability on campus in relation to buildings.

As part of a multi-campus LEED Experiential Learning grant, with SUNY Poly Tech and SUNY Oneonta, ESF is currently (Spring 2019) participating in the LEED Lab Initiative with USGBC (https://www.usgbc.org/leed-lab). Students in the newly created course, CME-496 "Principles of Green Buildings," are training to take the LEED Green Associate exam, while also actively contributing to the certification of a campus building (Baker Lab) under LEED Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance.

In Environmental and Energy Auditing EST 427/627, students have used AutoDesk software to conduct a rapid energy modeling to assessment of each of the academic buildings on the ESF main campus and assess factors contributing to energy use and the potential for savings.

Students have done projects comparing green buildings implementation at different university campuses. Another group did their project on energy use intensity at ESF's Centennial Hall residence (LEED Gold) compared to one of Syracuse University's residence halls.

Students in sustainable construction management helped identify local materials for the construction of the College's Gateway Center (a LEED Platinum facility). For instance, a related honors thesis was completed by a student (Susan Fassler): "The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Gateway Building: An Educational and Energetic Assessment" (http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1059&context=honors)


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:

Students in the Sustainable Energy Management degree programs regularly engage in assessments of campus energy systems. This includes sources of energy generation such as PV and biomass, opportunities for energy conservation measures, efficiency improvements and behavioral changes. Students are also engaged on the College's Energy Advisory Committee as voting members.


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

Two years in a row, groups of students in a Food Systems design studio course under Proffesor Matt Potteiger prepared preliminary site analyses and preliminary designs for a native wild edible planting on campus, developed in partnership with ESF's Sustainability Office and Grounds unit.


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:

Projects in Landscape Architecture Food Systems Design studio identify locations on main campus for native wild edible plants.


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:

EST 427- Environmental and Energy Auditing projects have included research and benchmarking for sustainable purchasing options and making recommendations for improvements in green purchasing at ESF.


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:

Students in CME-496 Principles of Green Buildings, are assessing transportation habits and alternative transportation use in the context of certifying an existing building under the LEED Operations and Maintenance program.


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:

EST 427- Environmental and Energy Auditing projects regularly include reviewing what other Colleges were doing in the waste category and making recommendations for improvements in this category sector at ESF. In the Fall of 2018, the student President of the Green Campus Initiative Club, took a 1-credit independent study course to work on a project focused on improving the campus' compost collection system and helped restructure ESF's waste-hauling contract.


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:

Students worked with professors to help design and monitor ESF's rain gardens, located in front of Illick Hall. Water infiltration on the ESF Gateway Building green roof is monitored by students.


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

In 2018, the College restructured and created a new Office of Experiential Learning and Outreach. This major endeavor is intended in large part to increase public engagement, and create new experiential- and service-learning opportunities for students, including on-campus. The Office is developing its first-ever strategic plan presently.

The College recognized that it must increase its partnerships with an expanding group of external groups in synergistic and innovative ways, harnessing the College's complementary strengths to meet the needs of our community.

The College also recognizes that incoming first-year students are expecting an educational experience that goes beyond classroom or laboratory/field experiences. They want real-world experiences that may or may not have a research component but do include mentorship under faculty, staff, and partnering professionals. This is especially true for ESF students who are often extremely mission driven as opposed to major or job driven. The creation of this new office is intended to meet this need, abut also drive a program that will provide critical resources and energy to assist the greater community in realizing broader environmental and educational missions. Additionally, this mutually beneficial collaborative model will effectively bridge the current skill-gap, and train graduates in becoming effective employees, entrepreneurs, citizens and change agents in the future.

The office oversees several existing and potentially new courses that will not only properly prepare students to integrate real-world experiences in the community, but will also successfully guide them through these experiences by supporting student growth and engagement activities that will provide the very skills employers are looking for using proven service learning educational techniques. At the same time, the Office will be able to expand and extend ESF’s outreach to the community by leveraging the talent and energy of its students to meet the immense environmental and educational needs of our community and regional partners. It is the College's goal not only to serve thousands of ESF students in gaining critical workforce skills needed to succeed in this competitive job market, but to galvanize the collective engagement of tens of thousands of citizens in ESF partnered programs. It is also the College's goal to actively seek and implement student engagement with underserved populations to form new bridges of understanding and 2-way pipelines of collaboration between ESF and these new allies.

There are four outcomes: (1) improving communication and real world/job skills acquisition for ESF undergraduates; (2) enriching community education in the environmental sciences; (3) solving community challenges by leveraging undergraduate motivation, knowledge, and skills; and (4) strengthening relationships between ESF and community partners.

Some example honors thesis related to public engagement include:

By Isabella M. Garramone: "What do Participants Think of their Experience at an ESF Summer Camp? An Analysis of ESF SCIENCE Participant Surveys from 2006-2013" (http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1012&context=honors)

Honors thesis by Kristin Pasquino: "Out with the Old, In with the New? Comparing the effectiveness and visitor attitudes between a digital trail guide and a traditional paper booklet for self-guided interpretive walks at the Adirondack Interpretive Center" (http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=honors)


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

ESF forestry properties serve as outdoor classrooms and literally "Living Laboratories" for students in various disciplines: forestry, ecology, fisheries management, wildlife management and more. The term "Living Laboratory" has come to be used as a metaphor: using campus infrastructure, facilities and services as dynamic learning opportunities for students, tapping into mutually beneficial feedbacks between the academic and operational sectors of the University, which traditionally have been kept isolated from each other. We whole-heatedly embrace this paradigm for 21st Century Universities. In addition, we also wish to draw attention to the role Universities (and AASHE-STARS) can have in directly studying (and protecting) the Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. With approximately25,000 acres of managed and natural forests, ESF has been offering a hands-on, immersive outdoor learning experience to students since its inception: a campus as a living laboratory and outdoor classroom on a large scale. ESF is proud of this tradition, and also happy to share that unique experience with others, and make our outdoor properties available to other institutions in or near New York State.

1) Outdoor courses, within the "living laboratory". Cranberry Lake Biological Station.
- http://www.esf.edu/clbs/about.htm
- http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/clbs/

2) Research. Honors thesis by Ryan Smith: "Factors affecting primary production and respiration in small forested pools Heiberg Forest, Tully, NY"
http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1017&context=honors

Honors thesis by Kristin Pasquino: "Out with the Old, In with the New? Comparing the effectiveness and visitor attitudes between a digital trail guide and a traditional paper booklet for self-guided interpretive walks at the Adirondack Interpretive Center"
http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=honors

Honors thesis by Robert Meyer: "Small Mammal Consumption of Hypogeous Fungi in the Central Adirondacks of New York" http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1022&context=honors

Honors thesis by Martin Holdgrege: "Relationships Between Overstory and Understory Tree Composition and Light Environment in an Old Growth Forest, Adirondacks, NY" http://digitalcommons.esf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=honors

Over many years, several groups of students designed and built two Aquaponic systems in ESF's Greenhouse, as Master's projects, MPS projects, and undergraduate coursework. The aquaponics systems are still being used and studied as part of both co-curricular and curricular learning.
- SUNY-ESF Aquaponics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CpEGsY_1KI


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.