Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.16
Liaison Mike Versteege
Submission Date June 24, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Nada Baali
Sustainability Engagement Coordinator
Sustainability Council
"---" 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:

COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS MODELING OF CAMPUS WIND ENVIRONMENT
This project addresses both energy and air and climate. Dr. Brian Fleck, his team of collaborators (Drs. Carlos Lange, Arman Hematti and Lexuan Zhong) and two graduate students (one Master and one PhD) are modeling complex wind flows around the University of Alberta North Campus to understand the effect of local micro-meteorology on the campus. This information is valuable to Facilities and Operations in understanding how wind affects HVAC systems, installed renewable energy generation equipment and human comfort.

FLEET VEHICLE EMISSIONS MONITORING
This project addresses both air and climate and transportation. Planned to start in summer 2020, researchers (Drs. Bob Koch, Vahid Hosseini, and Mahdi Shahbakhti of Mechanical Engineering) and graduate students will be taking real-time measurements of emissions from the University of Alberta fleet to create emissions modeling tools for a northern climate. Most vehicle emissions testing is done at average ambient temperatures, but Edmonton’s cold winters regularly reach -20 degrees Celsius, changing how long it takes for vehicle engines and emission scrubbers to warm up and be effective. This project will provide accurate information to inform fleet vehicle management to reduce fuel consumption and vehicle emissions for the university.


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:

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN 500 COURSE PROJECT - BUILDING WELLNESS RATING SYSTEMS FOR STUDENTS
This project addresses both buildings and health and well-being in the built environment. In the Fall 2018 semester, eight students in the Industrial Design course DES 500 (Design Studio: The Practice of Industrial Design I) examined the Fitwel rating system in the context of UAlberta buildings. Through student surveys, interactive whiteboards on North Campus, and other data collection methods, the students assessed differences between student wellness needs and priorities, in comparison with the priorities addressed by the Fitwell commercial building rating system. The students then re-imagined the rating systems with a student wellness focus. The students completed this as their course project, and met with members of Facilities and Operations, Office of the University Architect as their course client.

SOLAR POWERED GREENHOUSE PROJECT
This project addresses buildings, energy, and food, and is in the late planning stages, expected to launch in summer 2020. Researchers are working with two student groups, the Students’ Union Campus Community Garden, and an industry partner to bring a solar-powered, off-grid greenhouse to the Campus Community Garden on North Campus. Multidisciplinary research will be conducted on two main topics: (1) green building technologies in a northern climate including building envelopes, HVAC systems, energy production, storage, and consumption; and (2) food production including aquaponics. More research topics will potentially be added as time goes on.

SOLAR PV MAPPING
This project addresses both buildings as well as energy and is focused on mapping the solar potential of existing North Campus buildings. Dr. Mustafa Gul and his graduate students are utilizing several methodologies developed by their research group, such as accurate solar energy generation prediction models and optimization models to determine the best layout of solar PV for a given roof. The specific outcome will be the energy generation capacity of each building, the proposed solar PV panel layout for the specific building and expected monthly generation based on the layout and historical weather data.


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:

SOLAR PV MICROGRID AND ENERGY STORAGE
Facilities and Operations is currently collaborating with Dr. Yunwei (Ryan) Li from the Faculty of Engineering, in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A live solar PV installation on the ECERF building will be tied into the Future Smart Grid Technologies Lab, which will use this live data to inform its models of distributed renewable energy generation and storage, power grid energy management and efficiency.

SOLAR PV MAPPING
This project addresses both buildings as well as energy and is focused on mapping the solar potential of existing North Campus buildings. Dr. Mustafa Gul and his graduate students are utilizing several methodologies developed by their research group, such as accurate solar energy generation prediction models and optimization models to determine the best layout of solar PV for a given roof. The specific outcome will be the energy generation capacity of each building, the proposed solar PV panel layout for the specific building and expected monthly generation based on the layout and historical weather data.

SOLAR POWERED GREENHOUSE PROJECT
This project addresses buildings, energy, and food, and is in the late planning stages, expected to launch in summer 2020. Researchers are working with two student groups, the Students’ Union Campus Community Garden, and an industry partner to bring a solar-powered, off-grid greenhouse to the Campus Community Garden on North Campus. Multidisciplinary research will be conducted on two main topics: (1) green building technologies in a northern climate including building envelopes, HVAC systems, energy production, storage, and consumption; and (2) food production including aquaponics. More research topics will potentially be added as time goes on.

COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS MODELING OF CAMPUS WIND ENVIRONMENT
This project addresses both energy and air and climate. Dr. Brian Fleck, his team of collaborators (Drs. Carlos Lange, Arman Hematti and Lexuan Zhong) and two graduate students (one Master and one PhD) are modeling complex wind flows around the University of Alberta North Campus to understand the effect of local micro-meteorology on the campus. This information is valuable to Facilities and Operations in understanding how wind affects HVAC systems, installed renewable energy generation equipment and human comfort.


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:

INVESTIGATING UALBERTA FOOD CARBON AND NITROGEN FOOTPRINTS
The University of Alberta Sustainability Plan identifies that the food served on our campuses is one area in which to improve our sustainability both socially and environmentally. Food production is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and it is well known that agriculture has other impacts on air, water, and land, some of which are associated with the release of reactive nitrogen species. To better understand the impact of university food purchases on climate change and the environment, and make this information available to the campus community, this project analyzed the university’s food purchases using the online tool SIMAP™ (Sustainability Indicator Management and Analysis Platform, developed by the University of New Hampshire and its partners; https://unhsimap.org/home) to develop a baseline carbon and nitrogen footprint and assess potential areas for improvement. This project was completed in summer 2018 by a graduate student intern working under the direct supervision of sustainability and dining services staff as part of the Sustainability Scholars program.

SOLAR POWERED GREENHOUSE PROJECT
This project addresses buildings, energy, and food, and is in the late planning stages, expected to launch in summer 2020. Researchers are working with two student groups, the Students’ Union Campus Community Garden, and an industry partner to bring a solar-powered, off-grid greenhouse to the Campus Community Garden on North Campus. Multidisciplinary research will be conducted on two main topics: (1) green building technologies in a northern climate including building envelopes, HVAC systems, energy production, storage, and consumption; and (2) food production including aquaponics. More research topics will potentially be added as time goes on.


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

IMPACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA FLEET VEHICLES ON GHG EMISSIONS
This research project compiled consumption data of fuel use by the University of Alberta’s fleet and studied use patterns in order to identify innovative technologies and programs that may reduce UAlberta’s ecological footprint. The research also involved barriers and opportunities with respect to operation of the university fleet, training, policies, equipment, etc. with the aim of reducing fuel usage and ultimately GHG emissions. The study showed the potential of replacing the UAlberta’s fleet on GHG savings. This project was completed in summer 2017 by a graduate student intern working under the direct supervision of sustainability and transportation services staff as part of the Sustainability Scholars program.

STUDENT INTERNSHIP - ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION ISSUES & OPPORTUNITIES ANALYSIS
Over the summer of 2018, a graduate student in the Urban Planning program worked as an Active Transportation Intern with staff in Facilities and Operations (Office of the University Architect (OUA) and the Energy Management and Sustainable Operations (EMSO)). The intern conducted a stakeholder engagement-based assessment of issues and opportunities for active transportation at the University of Alberta’s Edmonton campuses. The student designed and led several stakeholder workshops, applying their knowledge in planning, architecture and design to complete this work.

FLEET VEHICLE EMISSIONS MONITORING
This project addresses both air and climate transportation and air and climate. Planned to start in summer 2020, researchers (Drs. Bob Koch, Vahid Hosseini, and Mahdi Shahbakhti of Mechanical Engineering) and graduate students will be taking real-time measurements of emissions from the University of Alberta fleet to create emissions modeling tools for a northern climate. Most vehicle emissions testing is done at average ambient temperatures, but Edmonton’s cold winters regularly reach -20 degrees Celsius, changing how long it takes for vehicle engines and emission scrubbers to warm up and be effective. This project will provide accurate information to inform fleet vehicle management to reduce fuel consumption and vehicle emissions for the university.


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:

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN 401 COURSE PROJECT - WASTE DIVERSION STICKERS
In the winter 2020 semester, three students in Industrial Design course DES 401 (Intermediate Industrial Design Principles and Practices II), undertook a project focused on Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, with a research focus of “reducing waste and mainstreaming sustainability practices across all sectors of the economy.” Specifically this project looked for barriers to student compliance with recycling programs, and designed solutions to address these barriers. Through student surveys they learned that two of the main barriers for undergraduate students were (1) trash isn’t clearly labeled, and (2) information on the bins is unclear. To address these barriers, the students designed stickers that food services could apply directly to containers at check-out, and designed simplified signage for recycling bins.


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

WE’RE READY! COMMUNITY DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PILOT WORKSHOP
The We’re Ready! Community Disaster Preparedness Pilot Workshop was designed to build emergency preparation and response capacity at the community-level. The workshop was designed and led by two professors from the Faculty of Extension and Faculty of Arts, working with a student research assistant and a staff member from the university’s Environment, Health and Safety department. The student assisted with grant writing, workshop development and implementation, analysis of pre- and post-survey, and evaluation of We’re Ready! Workshop.

We’re Ready! provided faculty, staff, and students at the University of Alberta with knowledge, skills, and resources to design their own disaster preparedness plans in response to climate emergencies in the workplace, while also providing them with knowledge to prepare for emergencies in their other communities (e.g., neighborhoods). This was accomplished through interactive and engaging activities that strengthen social connections and enhance community resilience. Being prepared for emergencies and having the knowledge and resources to respond adequately is important because it can reduce confusion and distress, prevent injury, save lives, and minimize or avoid damages.

The We’re Ready! Pilot Workshop aimed to advance sustainability at the University of Alberta by improving operations and practices through teaching faculty, staff, and students how to be prepare for and respond to climate emergencies. Through a facilitated rather than led process, this workshop was also designed to encourage participants to build social networks, social capital, and social capacity (social sustainability) by designing customized community disaster plans and communication plans.

This pilot project was based on principles of program planning and adult education with an emphasis on learning transfer, which helps participants to gain skills useful for preparedness in the workplace, but also enables participants to use these skills to engage their own communities (social or geographical) to develop preparedness plans, thereby addressing the University of Alberta’s Guiding Principle of Integration.


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:

WORKPLACE CULTURE - DIVERSITY IN ENGINEERING
The goal of the Diversity in Engineering Workplace Culture Group is to increase the retention of gender minorities in the engineering profession by developing programming that better prepares engineering students to address workplace gender dynamics and challenge barriers to inclusion to ensure that all engineering students feel included in the profession. The project consists of developing a needs assessment through surveys, for University of Alberta engineering and computer science undergraduates to determine how being a gender, racial, or sexual minority informs students’ experiences in the Faculty of Engineering, how effectively the undergraduate experience prepares students for workplace culture dynamics, and how the student experience can be reshaped to prepare students to become agents of change in their workplaces. The data and analysis will be used to innovate solutions to improve inclusivity in the workplace culture for STEM fields by creating workshops, publishing white papers and making recommendations to the Engineering Student’ Society, as well as other faculty advisors.


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:

ADOPT A HERITAGE CHICKEN PROGRAM
This program was started to promote the conservation of several unique genetic chicken lines, and to provide a way for the lines to become financially self-supporting. This project supports development of a market analysis for heritage chicks program intended to both raise revenue and to preserve the heritage of chicken lines, and creation of educational materials, workshops and videos to educate consumers on how to raise chickens. This project was developed as a faculty research program with graduate and undergraduate student participation. This project is ongoing.

WE’RE READY! COMMUNITY DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PILOT WORKSHOP
The We’re Ready! Community Disaster Preparedness Pilot Workshop was designed to build emergency preparation and response capacity at the community-level. The workshop was designed and led by two professors from the Faculty of Extension and Faculty of Arts, working with a student research assistant and a staff member from the university’s Environment, Health and Safety department. The student assisted with grant writing, workshop development and implementation, analysis of pre- and post-survey, and evaluation of We’re Ready! Workshop.

We’re Ready! provided faculty, staff, and students at the University of Alberta with knowledge, skills, and resources to design their own disaster preparedness plans in response to climate emergencies in the workplace, while also providing them with knowledge to prepare for emergencies in their other communities (e.g., neighbourhoods). This was accomplished through interactive and engaging activities that strengthen social connections and enhance community resilience. Being prepared for emergencies and having the knowledge and resources to respond adequately is important because it can reduce confusion and distress, prevent injury, save lives, and minimize or avoid damages.

The We’re Ready! Pilot Workshop aimed to advance sustainability at UAlberta by improving operations and practices through teaching faculty, staff, and students how to be prepare for and respond to climate emergencies. Through a facilitated rather than led process, this workshop was also designed to encourage participants to build social networks, social capital, and social capacity (social sustainability) by designing customized community disaster plans and communication plans.

This pilot project was based on principles of program planning and adult education with an emphasis on learning transfer, which helps participants to gain skills useful for preparedness in the workplace, but also enables participants to use these skills to engage their own communities (social or geographical) to develop preparedness plans, thereby addressing the University of Alberta’s Guiding Principle of Integration.


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

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN 500 COURSE PROJECT - BUILDING WELLNESS RATING SYSTEMS FOR STUDENTS
This project addresses both buildings and health and well-being in the built environment. In the Fall 2018 semester, eight students in the Industrial Design course DES 500 (Design Studio: The Practice of Industrial Design I) examined the Fitwel rating system in the context of UAlberta buildings. Through student surveys, interactive whiteboards on North Campus, and other data collection methods, the students assessed differences between student wellness needs and priorities, in comparison with the priorities addressed by the Fitwell commercial building rating system. The students then re-imagined the rating systems with a student wellness focus. The students completed this as their course project, and met with members of Facilities and Operations, Office of the University Architect as their course client.


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:

WE’RE READY! COMMUNITY DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PILOT WORKSHOP

The We’re Ready! Community Disaster Preparedness Pilot Workshop was designed to build emergency preparation and response capacity at the community-level. The workshop was designed and led by two professors from the Faculty of Extension and Faculty of Arts, working with a student research assistant and a staff member from the university’s Environment, Health and Safety department. The student assisted with grant writing, workshop development and implementation, analysis of pre- and post-survey, and evaluation of We’re Ready! Workshop.

We’re Ready! provided faculty, staff, and students at the University of Alberta with knowledge, skills, and resources to design their own disaster preparedness plans in response to climate emergencies in the workplace, while also providing them with knowledge to prepare for emergencies in their other communities (e.g., neighbourhoods). This was accomplished through interactive and engaging activities that strengthen social connections and enhance community resilience. Being prepared for emergencies and having the knowledge and resources to respond adequately is important because it can reduce confusion and distress, prevent injury, save lives, and minimize or avoid damages.

The We’re Ready! Pilot Workshop aimed to advance sustainability at UAlberta by improving operations and practices through teaching faculty, staff, and students how to be prepare for and respond to climate emergencies. Through a facilitated rather than led process, this workshop was also designed to encourage participants to build social networks, social capital, and social capacity (social sustainability) by designing customized community disaster plans and communication plans.

This pilot project was based on principles of program planning and adult education with an emphasis on learning transfer, which helps participants to gain skills useful for preparedness in the workplace, but also enables participants to use these skills to engage their own communities (social or geographical) to develop preparedness plans, thereby addressing the University of Alberta’s Guiding Principle of Integration.

AUGUSTANA MIQUELON LAKE RESEARCH STATION SUSTAINABILITY PLAN 2015-2020
The Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station Sustainability Plan 2015-2020 is the result of a project that supported the development of a sustainability plan for the station's activities, a sustainability curriculum to be included in university courses and a sustainability outreach plan that includes community service-learning opportunities with community partners. This project was faculty led with participation from graduate and undergraduate students.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOR INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE RESEARCH COLLABORATION
In the summer of 2019, twenty Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and Elders from across the University of Alberta participated in experiential learning aimed at deepening the understanding of the epistemological conflicts between Indigenous and Western science, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people’s historical and present experiences of colonialism, the importance of Indigenous people’s connection to the land, and the transformative learning that results from building relationships with the land and each other. A recent Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) Cluster Grant has allowed the group to continue and to expand the project in order to better understand how to justly, ethically, and collaboratively engage Indigenous knowledge and values within the university. Individuals’ journaling, art, and field notes, as well as transcripts of group reflexive debriefs, capture intentions and actions for Indigenous knowledge collaboration and will facilitate proposals for future research that reflects Indigenous knowledge collaborations.


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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Shannon Leblanc
Program Team Lead
Energy Management and Sustainable Operations
Facilities & Operations

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.