Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.58
Liaison James Gordon
Submission Date March 3, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Thompson Rivers University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 James Gordon
Environmental Programs and Research Coordinator
TRU Office of Environment 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 ---
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing ---
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment ---
Public Engagement Yes
Other ---

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:
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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:

The Architectural & Engineering Technology Program (ARET) at TRU emphasizes the design processes in building, civil and mechanical technologies involving design projects for building structures, subdivisions, municipal services, and electrical, plumbing, lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems. Students from this program are often involved in projects that treat the campus as a living laboratory. These include analyzing the design of indoor air vents and how this affects air quality; proposing low carbon design ideas for new buildings in order to build the most energy efficient buildings possible; and monitoring the efficiency of existing solar hot water panels and how they affect the whole hot water system in a building. Hands-on learning of this sort is invaluable for students since it helps translate theory into practice.


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:

The TRU Culinary Arts Retail Meat Processing Program partnered with a TRU researcher to look at the differences in quality between imported grain-fed beef and locally raised grass-fed beef. Students were actively involved in helping with this research which has shed light on the health benefits of eating grass-fed beef.


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:

The Architectural & Engineering Technology Program (ARET) at TRU also uses aspects of the campus of a living lab in regards to Energy. In 2010 a TRU student from this program won the Equilibrium House Design Competition. This design was then used to build the Kamloops “Green Dream Home”, a net zero energy home where passive and active solar systems generate as much energy as it consumes in normal home living patterns. The home has been lived in by a family since 2010. Students from ARET regularly monitor how the home is performing and if all of the high-tech equipment is working to maximum efficiency. Students benefit from performing these types of assessments by seeing first-hand how beneficial these types of systems are in a practical sense.


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:

The TRU Horticulture Program uses the campus as a living laboratory since its students are actively involved in their learning process by working on the landscaping of the campus by using various sustainability practices on a regular basis. They are taught how to be efficient with their work habits and the machinery (which cuts down on fuel use); they are taught proper pruning and watering techniques; they are taught about aspects of food production during their work in the campus orchard; they learn the basics of bee-keeping; and are also taught about Integrated Pest Management techniques, which significantly reduces dependance on synthetic pesticides.


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:

Students in the The TRU School of Business and Economics course Advanced Marketing helped the TRU Student Union Ride-Share program complete a brand audit and develop a basic marketing strategy. Using the campus in this way as a living laboratory was intended to get more students using the program, which advances sustainability on campus.


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:

A substantial composting pilot project was headed up by a TRU Coop student over 8 months starting in January 2014. Much of the campus was involved in the project, which included detailed analysis of how much compost was generated, deciding upon best-practices for collection, promotion and cultivation, and what the needed steps were to implement a full campus-wide compost program at the end of the pilot. The Coop student learned first hand what all of the needed steps were to implement such a needed waste diversion and reduction program.


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:

TRU's Dr. Tom Pypker and his students have ben researching why ponds are drying up in the surrounding grasslands. This effects the sustainability of the local ranching industry since ranchers depend on these ponds for thier cows to drink from. Theories as to why the ponds have been drying up include the following: Less snow-pack (which is caused by increased temperatures due to climate change); increased evaporation rates of the ponds (also caused by rising temperatures); more moisture being used by the increase in the number of sage brush (which is caused by local fire-suppression tactics being employed (where historically, natural fires would spread through the grasslands and burn off the sage brush)); faster snow-melt in the spring as a result of increased sage brush since it's a darker plant than the grasses; which then attracts more sun light; and how all of these factors play off of each other.


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:

The TRU Student Union (TRUSU) is coordinating a Sweat Shop Free Campus campaign which focuses on the apparel industry. TRUSU is in the final stages of implementing this campaign by having TRU Procurement Services agree to only contract companies that meet adequate working standards. In order to ensure that all TRU apparel is sweatshop free. Successfully implementing this campaign will bring great awareness to the entire campus community about the less-than sustainable living conditions of many workers in the developing world.
Source: http://trusu.ca/advocacy/campaigns/sweat-shop-free-campus/


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:

Students and faculty from the TRU School of Nursing and TRU School of Business and Economics are participating in a blended, shared learning activity on campus that hopes to increase social and economic sustainability by looking at culturally-specific behaviours and then making those behaviours known to various other cultural groups in order to increase understanding and cooperation between all concerned groups.
Here is a write-up by one of the involved faculty: "Dealing with diversity is part of everyday nursing practice and business practice regionally and globally. Both successful nurses and business people require an appreciation of their clients’ cultural backgrounds. This increasingly necessary orientation requires skills in cross-cultural communication and, if possible, a broader understanding of the different country’s cultural, economic, and political background. Navigating through cultural differences can be challenging and requires openness to understand diverse social etiquette, political and religious influences, and acceptable communication practices. With these expectations in mind, faculty from the School of Business and Economics and the School of Nursing are working together to raise awareness of different cultural communication styles and the norms of social etiquette by having BScN students (in a relational practice class) and BA students (studying international business) share and compare their understanding of their home countries, including differences and similarities in country culture and also how economic and political country characteristics influence society. The specific learning activities for this intercultural learning opportunity, the challenges along the way, and the reported changes in cultural awareness by the students will be shared in the presentation.


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:

Students in the course Environmental Issues in the Tourism Industry create videos on projects as part of their group work. One such project video investigated the issue of noise pollution in the community. Students used the campus as a living laboratory by interviewing staff members on this subject. Not only is this issue an environmental sustainability issue (since too much noise can disrupt the natural surroundings), but is also a social sustainability issue (for example, people not getting adequate sleep due to train noise), and economic sustainability issue (for example, hotel guests being unsatisfied because of staying near a busy roadway and therefore not returning again). Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WVF3M3varg


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:

The TRU Office of Environment and Sustainability went through a comprehensive engagement process to solicit input from all members of the university and local community (students, staff, faculty, public-at-large) for its new TRU Campus Strategic Sustainability Plan (2014). Engaging all of these members on the issue of sustainability at TRU incorporated four aspects and lasted eight months (Feb to Sept 2014). The four aspects were a Town Hall Visioning Session, On-Line Survey, Art/Photo Contest, and sharing of thoughts for the plan through either/or letter, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or video. Student learning about public engagement took place through this process since there were students on the plan's steering committee, and who participated in each of the four aspects. Students learned about how to engage with the public in order to seek meaningful feedback.


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

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.