Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.66
Liaison Eric Boles
Submission Date March 5, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Eric Boles
Director
Office for 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:

The UofA campus has a goal of carbon neutral by 2040 and is a tier one research institution. There are countless examples of student/faculty projects on campus that contribute to better understanding air and climate.

A couple examples are:
Students in the Public Administration program worked with university and city officials in addressing planning and policy issues around sustainability. For example, one project looked into ways to reduce parking congestion on and around campus. This project utilized an economic benefit/cost analysis to examine the most suited programs and any necessary city subsidies to serve such purposes in the context of the University of Arkansas and the City of Fayetteville.

There's ongoing research within the chemical engineering and biological engineering departments to quantify the amount of carbon sequestered by University of Arkansas owned forests and crop lands. This will lead to more carbon sequestration from UA lands through management practices.


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:

The UA's Green Revolving fund has led to multiple LED retrofit projects throughout entire buildings. These were student initiated and student led projects.

The UA's Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design uses 5th-year architecture students to take on various projects across campus, including the design of their very own building which received LEED Gold certification. This required collaboration with other departments such as engineering.

Also, the Arkansas Water Resources Center has partnered with the Fay Jones School on various green roof experiments across campus intended to identify plant species and designs that perform well in our local climate.


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:

The University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability manages a Green Revolving Fund (GRF) to finance "green" energy saving projects. This fund is accessible to all students, staff, and faculty who submit projects that demonstrate a positive return on investment. The GRF project teaches applicants about sustainable investment strategies that reduce energy use, carbon, and operational costs. All projects funded by the GRF have been student led and energy related, since energy savings is how the fund was able to recover the capital cost. These teams of students are usually interdisciplinary.

Another great example is the annual Solar Design Competition at the UofA which challenges interdisciplinary teams of students to develop solar designs for the campus.
https://news.uark.edu/articles/56012/solar-design-contest


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:

Chartwells, our food service provider employs student interns to engage in sustainability reporting for their local operations. The students coordinate with the Office for Sustainability and develop recommendations to reduce waste in dining halls. They also help coordinate the Razorback Food Recovery program which employs 30-50 students per semester and diverts tons (literally) of food from the landfill and feeds hungry people.

Another example is the Freight Farm, which is an on-campus farm that grows lettuce in a hydroponic system. Freight farm is run by interdisciplinary students and provides fresh lettuce to our dining halls.


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 Office for Sustainability partnered with the Department of Entomology to create an integrated pest management plan for the University of Arkansas campus. The plan was crafted by professors, staff, and students and was formally adopted by the University of Arkansas Executive Board of Directors.

Additionally, our Campus Biodiversity Committee, made up of students, faculty and staff, have been collaborating with our grounds maintenance team to improve planting lists and maintenance strategies that support pollinators through an Integrated Pest Management Plan. This has led to many examples of using the campus grounds as a living laboratory. Everything from goats to keep invasive species at bay to controlled burns and monarch way stations. All of these are interdisciplinary projects.


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

Student interns at the Office for Sustainability work with the campus procurement team to improve our sustainable procurement policy and pilot new procurement strategies that will encourage responsible purchasing decisions across campus. Data of third-party sustainability certified products purchased are being tracked and used as a metric for success. Although we try to keep in mind that the most sustainable product is the one that's never manufactured.


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:

In 2019 The university received the Gold Rating for the Bicycle Friendly University. This was the result of many interdisciplinary projects around active transportation.

Some examples include:
In the fall of 2019, the UofA partnered with City of Fayetteville launched e-scooters to compliment the existing bike share program. Both programs are interlinked with the university and the City of Fayetteville. E-scooters have been an ongoing experiment with parking strategies, data collection, and safety. Multiple classes have engaged in the conversation.

The University of Arkansas consistently has students engaged in several research projects related to improving transportation sustainability. For example, two students in the Sustainability Minor previously researched both the true cost of ownership for diesel and electric buses for the University of Arkansas transit system, including the carbon impact during the life-cycle of these vehicles. Additionally, a group of students from the Computer Engineering department conducted research on RFID technology and inventive projects for campus cycling commuters.

As of 2021, the Associated Student Government has been working with campus staff to reduce the speed limit on various streets while recording pre and post traffic data. This experiment is showing that simply changing a speed limit sign can have an effect on driver behavior. With any luck, the UofA will have a campus-wide speed limit of 20mph or less before the end of 2021.


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:

The University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability has worked with 3rd party consultants, campus departments, student organizations, and the City of Fayetteville to experiment with recycling and composting solutions.

Several interns engaged in waste audits and analysis and made recommendations to several campus entities on strategies for reducing waste. The positive outcomes of this effort was a highly educated and capable group of interns who could act as waste consultants to organizations. Additionally, the organizations who underwent the waste audits now have a better understanding of their waste profile and are equipped with a list of recommendations to minimize their waste.

Recycling competitions have been conducted in collaboration with Gamers 4 Good, a non-profit recycling start-up. Participating students recycled more in 2 weeks than the average University of Arkansas student does in 12 years. Their strategy included the gamification of recycling with traditional gamer reward systems through a phone application.

The most successful example of a project with students, faculty, and staff to reduce waste is the Razorback Food Recovery Program which has provided hundreds of thousands of meals to people in need.

The University's dining system has also partnered with the City of Fayetteville on a series of pilots to collect food waste/scraps and compost them at the City's compost facility. This has been very successful and has led to the permanent installation of organic collection systems in all UofA dining halls.


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:

A team of Chemical Engineering, Communications and Honors College students at the University of Arkansas – collectively known as the Water Hogs – entered their design project in the Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet, or P3, competition. The Water Hogs received the American Society of Civil Engineers Sustainable Development Award.

Student interns at the UA Office for Sustainability have worked with campus staff to finalize the 2019 UA Water Action Plan which identified a series of projects to use the campus as a living laboratory to reduce water consumption.

Students have also worked with the UofA Campus Utilities department to develop a plan for stormwater capture to be used in campus cooling towers. This project has not yet been implemented, but has been fully designed and is expected to reduce the campus potable water consumption by approximately 30%.


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:

University of Arkansas students in the Public Administration program worked with university and city officials in addressing planning and policy issues around sustainability. One project looked into ways to reduce parking congestion on and around campus. This project utilized an economic benefit/cost analysis to examine the most suited programs and any necessary city subsidies to serve such purposes in the context of the University of Arkansas and City of Fayetteville.


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:

The Wicked Problem Hackathon is a dinner series for UofA School of Social Work to tackle social problems collectively while building community ties. It was led by faculty and students who created communities of diverse people to solve problems such as food insecurity and suicide prevention.
https://diversity.uark.edu/get-involved/calendar-of-events.php

UA graduate students led the push to increase GA salaries across the board for UA graduate students in 2020. https://news.uark.edu/articles/54260/university-will-advance-two-salary-initiatives-to-help-staff-gas

A diverse group of UA students also developed the Lavender Graduation program which is a celebration specifically for graduating LGBTQ-plus students.
https://news.uark.edu/articles/56131/rsvp-for-lgbtq-plus-lavender-graduation-by-march-12


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:

The University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability manages a modest Green Revolving Fund (GRF) to finance "green" energy saving projects. This fund is accessible to all students, staff, and faculty who submit projects that demonstrate a positive return on investment. The GRF project teaches applicants about sustainable investment strategies that reduce energy use, carbon, and operational costs. In the first year of funds, the GRF awarded nearly $20,000 in funds for LED lighting upgrades. Since that time, the fund has been used for multiple LED retrofits in full buildings and to provide the campus Grounds Crew with battery-powered landscape tools to reduce on campus emissions. All of these projects have been initiated by multidisciplinary groups of students, faculty, and staff with an emphasis on projects with a sincere ROI.


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:

The University of Arkansas Social Innovation Hub annually hosts the Design Solution Challenge. This competition is open to any student interested in offering an applicable and sustainable solution to any of the problems and challenges discussed at the Hub. Students can enter the competition individually or working in collaboration with other students, faculty or members of the community. Organizations throughout Northwest Arkansas provide the project framework and work with students throughout the process. At the end of the competition, the best solution is selected by the organization and rewarded with a monetary prize.

Aside from the economic incentive, students interested in the Challenge find guidance, assistance, and business advice through a network of faculty advisors, community leaders, experts in the field, impact investors, and former University of Arkansas students, all connected through the Social Innovation Hub. A selected group of these same advisors, investors, and experts associated with the Hub are selected every year to become part of the panel in charge of assigning the seed money award.


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:

The UA has been developing programs and strategies to entice more students, faculty, and staff to commute by bicycle. Data on increased student, faculty, and staff participation is being used as a metric for success. Most of these projects are interdisciplinary and all of them are on the UA campus. The University of Arkansas has been so successful in promoting bicycle use that they were named a Gold Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Cyclists in October 2019.

The UofA Wellness department also has countless examples of student led, multidisciplinary initiatives that use the campus as a living laboratory for wellbeing. They offer wellness coaching by request for any UofA affiliate. The wellness coaches are trained and certified on campus and are a diverse group of UofA affiliates.
https://wellness.uark.edu

https://wellness.uark.edu/online-wellness-calendar/


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)?:
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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:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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