Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 58.11
Liaison Melissa Tier
Submission Date April 19, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Swarthmore College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Aurora Winslade
Director of Sustainability
Office of 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:

PSRF fellow Aaron Metheny ('18) has been working on the Carbon Charge instituted in 2016. He has been working with economics faculty, administration, and other staff to research and develop a Green Revolving Fund and finding other best practices for ways to implement a carbon charge at higher educational institutions.


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:

1) Dayo Origunwa's ('18) goal last summer was to learn about how the energy management systems operate on campus and to give preliminary recommendations on improved control methods with respect to wasteful trends. Under the instruction of staff in Facilities Management, (Ralph Thayer, Tom Cochrane, and Domenic Porrini), he was able to refine the scope of the project to the analysis of three buildings on campus with respect to the efficiency of their mechanical systems. After 10 weeks of investigation and analysis, Dayo was able to identify areas for savings on the order of thousands of dollars should the school make the investments mentioned in a final report.

2) PSRF fellow Chase Williamson ('19) is conducting a behavioral economics research project concerning temperature set points in faculty offices.


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:

1) Robin Htun ('18) conducted a Solar Feasibility Study that determined the maximum amount of electricity that can be generated using solar panels at Swarthmore College. Using equipment and software provided by Professor Carr Everbach (Department Chair of Engineering), a student went up onto roofs, parking lots and other places on campus together with Facilities and Ground Staff (Ralph Thayer, Sheila Magee, Dwight Darkow) and measured the amount of sunlight available at those locations. The resulting report was presented to a group of stakeholders including the President's Staff, and used to make decisions about increasing renewable energy used by Swarthmore.


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:

PSRF fellow James Chen's ('17) food project is trying to get a baseline of how much food waste students currently produce at Sharples dining hall, to introduce a signage intervention encouraging students to not waste food, and to observe if there is a reduction in the amount of food waste/a spillover effect to see if students compost more. This will be done through weighing the amount of compost and trash that goes through the conveyor belt at various meal periods throughout the week working in conjunction with Economics Professor Ellen Magenheim and Sustainability Coordinator Melissa Tier.


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:

The Crum Stewardship PSRF project draws connections between grounds staff (Jeff Jabco; Mike Rolli; Lars Rausserberg; Sheila Magee) and the Environmental Studies Department (Betsy Bolton) to provide Gavi Mallory ('17) with an opportunity to learn both the managerial and practical work of woods stewardship. Students are able to both lead and participate in campus discussions on the best practices of forest management, and help make decisions around how Swarthmore College will Steward the Crum Woods and learn skills of hands on management and Stewardship within the woods themselves.


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

PSRF fellows Adina Spertus-Melhus ('17) and Vanessa Meng ('19) are reevlauating the waste stream at Swarthmore College. Working with faculty, staff and outside consultants, they conducted a waste audit to better understand the composition of campus waste and are studying ways in which this system could be improved.


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:

Water Quality and Pollution Control is offered by Professor of Engineering Art McGarity every other year, providing student the opportunity to study elements of water quality management and treatment of waste waters. Through laboratory and field measurements of water quality indicators, analysis of wastewater treatment processes, sewage treatment plant design, computer modeling of the effects of waste discharge, storm water, and non-point pollution on natural waters, and environmental impact assessment students take part in a community based learning component to the course in which they look applications of what they're learning on campus and in the community.


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:

PSRF fellows Bridget Scott ('18) and Patrick Houstion ('17) conducted research on sustainability planning and assessment by looking to create sustainability metrics for Swarthmore's sustainability plan and the completion of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Working with faculty (Denise Crossan) and staff (Aurora Winslade and Melissa Tier). These students conducted interviews with people all across campus to gather data of what is already happening at the College in terms of sustainability and also to identify areas that can be improved upon for future planning purposes.


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:

Adina Spertus-Melhus ('17) conducted a research project on campus that looked at Swarthmore's budget and financial aid for the course ENVS 005: Changemakers. For more information: http://flux.swarthmore.edu/.


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:

In 2016, Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Brown launched a three-week class entitled “Budget Essentials” to inform and engage the campus community about the College’s finances and budget processes. The program provided answers to such questions about the development of the budget, the ways the endowment is used to support the budget, financial aid decisions, and whether the College's business model is sustainable. Students, faculty, staff were able to participate in this class.


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:

Environmental Studies Professor Giovanna DiChiro's yearly seminar called Sustainable Community Action teaches students about the theories and methods of social action and community engagement focusing on social and environmental change. Exploring the relationship between theory and practice, the course includes a community-based learning component working in collaboration with a local organization or action research project. Many of these projects work to engage the Swarthmore community with local organizations in Chester or Philadelphia.


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:

The Crum Woods of Swarthmore College have been used as a living laboratory for many projects with the Studio Art department. Jonathan Malloy '14 built his Oxbow Cabin in collaboration with Professor Randall Exon for his special major in architecture. The Oxbow Cabin is built of recycled, salvaged, and local materials and is meant to serve as an example of sustainable architecture but also an escape from the stressors of busy Swarthmore life, utilizing the rejuvenating qualities of the nature in the Crum. Additionally, Gavi Mallory '17 is completing a senior project with Professor of Studio Art Logan Grider in which she is painting scenes of the Crum on stretched water color paper, a technique that has never been explored in depth.


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.