Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Tony Gillund
Submission Date Jan. 22, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

The Ohio State University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Tony Gillund
Sustainability Coordinator
Energy Services and Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy ---
Grounds Yes
Purchasing ---
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment ---
Public Engagement Yes
Other Yes

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

As a capstone course in 2015, and as part of a partnership between students, university staff, and private industry expert, Ohio State received its first Living Wall System as a vertical extension of the Howlett Hall Green Roof and Chadwick Arboretum Learning Gardens. The Howlett Hall Living Wall is 168 square feet of vertical living wall with a total of 110 plants of 11 varieties. As a part of Ohio State’s green infrastructure, the vertical garden improve air quality, public health, energy efficiency, and the aesthetic appeal of the area, while providing current and future students with hands-on research opportunities in sustainable design.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In 2015, the university completed a research article named "Energy Performance of Campus LEED® Buildings: Implications for Green Building and Energy Policy," written in conjunction by a graduate student, an Associate Professor, and the Director of Energy Services and Sustainability (staff member).

This article studies how many university campuses in the United States are working toward their sustainable goals by adopting energy or green building policies, which require Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification for new construction and major renovation projects. Because LEED certification heavily relies on whole building energy simulation to demonstrate building energy performance improvement, it is often assumed that the finished buildings will achieve the predicted level of energy efficiency. This paper presents a study that compares the energy model predictions with actual energy performance of three LEED buildings on a university campus. The study shows that one of the campus LEED buildings consumed twice the predicted energy usage while causing a high level of occupant dissatisfaction. Further investigation reveals a variety of contributing factors for these issues and provides insights to improve green building policy and practice. Not only are the research findings important for this particular campus (Ohio State University) on its way to sustainability, they also have widespread ramifications for other university campuses.

One positive outcome is that the research identified problem areas with the performance of several LEED certified buildings on campus, and the university was able to address many of these complications by improving the Procedures in our current Green Build and Energy Policy.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

With the growing interest in local foods, Ohio State has taken steps to increase the amount of food produced right on campus. This food-focused project consists of a “farm-to-table system. Dining Services and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences teamed up to grow a portion of the fresh produce served to students. Staff plant experts and student volunteers oversee the system. Overall, this new system provides the university with several new research opportunities as well as reducing the total distance the food has traveled drastically, promoting eating locally grown food, and providing fresher food to the dining facilities.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Ohio State is a member of Tree Campus USA; a nationwide program that recognizes colleges and universities that effectively manage their campus trees, and work to develop connectivity, awareness, and engagement in tree management and forestry efforts in both the student population and surrounding communities. As part of the requirements, the university offers service learning projects to students and the greater community. ArboBlitz has been the service learning event throughout the past several years that has offered tree lectures, demonstrations, and most recently campus tree mapping. Throughout the year, Chadwick Arboretum continues to encourage public and student involvement with our trees by offering involvement in the campus tree mapping; an effort to identify, measure, and map all of estimated 50,000 trees on Ohio State’s Columbus campus. Through the help of students, staff, and faculty, as of December 2015 the university has been able to map approximately 15,000 trees.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Campus Transit Lab (CTL) program at Ohio State is devoted to the continued development of an operating transit bus system into a living lab and the use of this lab for bus transit research, education, and outreach. With Ohio State being one of the largest campuses in the nation, it is an ideal setting for developing this platform. With a fleet of over 30 buses on 7 routes that comprise 30 route miles and serves 4 million passengers per year, the Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) can offer numerous benefits for research and education opportunities.

CTL provides the necessary platform to support research by enabling the collection of in situ data that can be used to facilitate understanding, test and generate research hypotheses, compare the performance of alternative methodologies, and refine promising developments. Our faculty and students are involved in several areas of transit research, including research on active sensors, service regulation, transit modeling, and traveler information systems.

In addition to the research opportunities, CTL has developed and implemented modules and quantitative exercises in several transportation courses. These exercises give the students exposure to research conducted at the transit lab and demonstrates the advantages of utilizing gathered data for practical applications.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In the fall of 2015, a graduate student completed a study to Evaluating the Recycling Reform at Ohio State. As Ohio State kicked off a recycling educational reform program on its Columbus campus, the student worked closely with staff and faculty to measure the impacts of the educational reform and to give feedback on areas of education to focus on in the future. The measurements in this study were completed through a series of waste audits on a representative building and two identical educational recycling surveys sent to two independent subject groups. While the study identified that there is a large disparity between perceived recycling knowledge and actual correct recycling methods, it also showed that the university’s new slogan ‘when in doubt- throw it out’ is successful at reducing contamination in the recycling stream.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

As part of the ongoing, comprehensive work to address sustainability across campus, the university initiated the Mirror Lake Enhancement Study in 2013, which focused on examining ways to resolve the loss of water from leaks in the bottom of the lake, and identify solutions to reduce the domestic water consumption of the lake. Faculty, staff, and students were involved in the design process to determine the methods to maintain the lake's iconic status, best strategies to supply water that aligns with the university sustainability goals, and methods to improve maintenance and operational needs. As a result of the study, Mirror Lake’s feed source switched from domestic water to well water and reduced the amount of potable water being used by over 97%.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In 2014, a student-led project examined the potential outcomes of the green space planning due to the future relocation of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) from west campus to be closer to the academic core on the eastern side of campus. The project identified functions, benefits, and challenges that will arise from the proposed green spaces in the new location for CFAES along the Olentangy River corridor area within Ohio State’s campus. Using information from the University’s Framework Plan, students identified the multi-faceted benefits the university community would receive by enhancing the proposed design. These benefits included the potential to improve physical and mental health while simultaneously improving the environmental health of the river corridor. The university has used this information in the continued planning for the college's relocation.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

To earn Ohio State’s Professional Writing Minor, students are required to demonstrate their professionalized skills in a capstone writing internship. These students go through a rigorous application process and then select a semester-long placement in a contemporary workplace relevant to their career goals. Over the past two years, several professional writing students chose the office of Energy Services and Sustainability because of their interest in the environment and sustainability. These enthusiastic students become integral to diverse tasks (writing, editing, research, and communications) aimed at educating and engaging the public on the university’s sustainability efforts within operations. This is mutually beneficial: this office receives valuable and talented student interns, and the interns gain real-world field experience to enhance their writing skills.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In 2014, one student’s research thesis aimed to develop the content for a sustainability curriculum for the university. Despite Ohio State’s national recognition for several achievements in sustainability, a recent sustainability survey indicated that many students are not as knowledgeable about sustainability concepts as the university would like. In response, university decision makers aim to further enhance student sustainability comprehension and awareness by creating an online curriculum that will reinforce the most essential concepts of sustainability. The thesis project examined and recommended best content for this curriculum through a literature review and through a series of semi-structured interviews and iterative conversations with key sustainability stakeholders and educators at the university. A participatory development process was used to identify and summarize the main sustainability definitions, concepts, and resources that the Ohio State sustainability community recommends as most important for inclusion in an OSU sustainability curriculum. It was found that Ecology, Biodiversity, Energy, Justice/Equity, Community, Growth, and Externalities, were among the top environmental, social, and fiscal stewardship concepts recommended. Using this information, the university has continued to develop the online curriculum to increase the students’ knowledge of key sustainability concepts.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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