Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.09
Liaison Elizabeth Drake
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

Swarthmore College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Elizabeth Drake
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:
The President's Sustainability Research Fellowship program matches students with faculty and staff mentors to lead campus sustainability projects in a year-long internship and associated course. In the program, students have worked on projects such as expanding student engagement with the College's energy plan, To Zero by Thirty Five, organized campus events to gather feedback on a carbon offsets strategy for the College, and more.

Outside of PSRF, students also conduct research projects that utilize the campus as a living lab to increase campus engagement. Spring 2022, Momi Jeschke, an Engineering Major, created a solar-powered LED machine that displayed the campus' energy usage over time. The device functioned as an artistic visual representation of the college's energy consumption and use of fossil fuels, aiding in the transition towards a carbon-free future as part of the To Zero by Thirty-Five energy initiative.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:
In 2022-2023, PSRF Daniela Kim is collaborating with the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee and Swarthmore's neighboring elementary school district to take over 100 fifth-grade students to the Crum Woods for a hands-on experience of planting trees, bushes, live stakes, and perennials. This activity aimed to increase their familiarity with the woods, provide insight into biology and ecosystem health, and encourage outdoor activities.

Additionally, PSRFs Ananya Bhattacharya and Juliana Lin worked in 2020-21 and 2021-22 with the ChesterSemester program to support students in their internships and course work, which involved engagement with community members in Chester. Students in the ChesterSemester program completed internships that supported non-profits, community farms, and other initiatives.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:
During the 2021-2022 academic year, PSRF Olivia Stoetzer focused on a Carbon Offsets project that explored the feasibility, process, and applicability of Swarthmore College purchasing carbon offsets. Olivia worked alongside the Office of Sustainability's Climate Action Manager to research the advantages and disadvantages of carbon offsets, conducted extensive outreach to the college community to gauge their priorities regarding co-benefits, locality, and other factors, and proposed specific recommendations for the college's consideration when purchasing carbon offsets.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:
In the 2020-2021 academic year, PSRF Alex Flowers collaborated with campus architects on the Sustainable Space Management project, analyzing the college's existing space data to provide insights into space usage practices and recommendations for making better use of existing space. This project aimed to reduce the need for new construction through data analysis and conversations with campus stakeholders and external experts.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, PSRF Olivia Fey conducted research on sustainable building materials, based on the International Living Futures Institute's red list, to promote the use of non-toxic and environmentally sustainable materials in the college's construction and renovation. The recommendations were incorporated into the College's design standards.

Finally, in the 2022-2023 academic year, senior PSRF Alice Du worked with campus architects to investigate Embodied Carbon and provide recommendations for how the College should consider Embodied Carbon in future construction decisions.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:
In the 2020-21 academic year, PSRF Chris Stone collaborated with faculty members, facilities and capital planning managers, and administrators in forging a pathway to strategically achieving the deep energy efficiency goals of individual buildings identified by the To Zero By Thirty Five geoexchange energy transition as a part of our commitment to creating a sustainable campus.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:
In the 2022-23 academic year, PSRF Gary Chen collaborated with retail dining staff to enhance our food procurement tracking efforts in alignment with the Real Food Challenge.

In the 2021-22 academic year, PSRF Sophia Schlenz partnered with the Food Systems Working Group to create a multi-year plan that increases student access to on-campus food production and education opportunities through the college's growing spaces. Sophia also organized various events, such as benchmaking and planting, to engage students in these spaces.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:
In AY 2020-21, PSRF Chelsea Semper worked with the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee to develop an extensive restoration plan for the area of the Crum Woods cleared due to a Sewer Line Right of Way project. Chelsea also conducted a large-scale planting event open to the community in Spring 2021 amidst covid restrictions.

In AY 2021-22, PSRF Daria Syskine supported efforts for bidding, contracting, and planning for a large swale restoration effort in the upper portion of the Crum Woods. Daria also conducted planting events and developed course curriculum for engaging classes in the Crum Woods.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
---

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:
In AY 2021-22, students Alana Ballagh and Olivia Stoetzer conducted benchmarking and institional research to investigate the feasibility on an internal carbon fee on flight travel. Olivia turned this research into a formal proposal that was adopted by the Carbon Charge Working Group and implemented by the College starting in the 2023 Fiscal Year.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:
During the 2019-20 academic year, Senior PSRF Chantal Reyes '22 and PSRF Tyler White initiated a campus outreach and research project.

In Spring 2021, Engineering student Charlie Cole designed and implemented an anaerobic digester for his E90 capstone project.

In AY 2021-22, Chantal led the organization of Swarthmore's Annual Waste Audit. The initiative aimed to promote engagement of the campus community in the waste management process, while simultaneously gathering valuable information on actual and potential diversion rates. Additionally, Chantal organized a Zero Waste Symposium that brought together campus stakeholders to discuss the impact of Swarthmore's waste, particularly the injustices associated with incineration in the neighboring town of Chester, PA. The Symposium highlighted ways in which different members of the Swarthmore community can work towards addressing these issues.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:
---

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
PSRF fellow Jorge Lopez-Nava ('23) 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 (Carr Everbach) and staff (Elizabeth Drake, Alex Flowers, and Jason Martin). Jorge 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 infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
From Tiffany Thompson, Associate Dean of Inclusive Excellence: the community garden is a partnership with the WRC where we offer workshops to educate and introduce gardens and the benefits of them to the Swarthmore community. We prioritize these programs for our most marginalized students, first generation low income (FLI) in particular. Most of the fresh vegetables that are harvested in the garden are offered to FLI students first and as this partnership grows, it will eventually allow for cooking workshops in the new DCC.

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
---

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
---

Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Student work was compiled by representatives from the Office of Sustainability.

Student work was compiled by representatives from the Office of Sustainability.

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.