Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.05
Liaison Kimberly Reeves
Submission Date Feb. 15, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Colorado Colorado Springs
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Kimberly Reeves
Interim Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
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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:

A Bachelor of Innovation Teams Class supported the organization and execution of the CU President’s Sustainability Solutions Challenge in Spring 2020. The CU Office of the President provided funding to encourage the development of sustainability innovations by CU students for their campuses and communities in spring 2020. The competition would reward students for their sustainability innovations: the Sustainable Solutions Challenge. Even though we were unable to see the challenge through to final pitches due to COVID-19 impacts, the students learned valuable organizational skills along with preparing us for future opportunities like this challenge. The students organizing the challenge and the students participating both learned about existing sustainable practices on campus and were connected to resources to support their innovative ideas.

https://sustain.uccs.edu/pssc


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:

As part of an on-going partnership with Trails and Open Space Coalition, students are connected through the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office to conduct research, create/update maps, and expand the educational outreach of the non-profit and their support of local, natural resources. This collaboration supports the on-campus trail system and increases the available resources and shared knowledge of conservation efforts in the region.


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:

The Office of Sustainability hosts an Ozone garden that supports citizen science and links to the National Climate and Atmospheric Research facility in Boulder along with an international ozone garden network. As part of a course-credit internships, students grow specific plants that display the effects of ground level ozone when present and report this information to NCAR. This program is ongoing and available every summer.

https://sustain.uccs.edu/programs/ozone-garden


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 many of our LEED buildings, we provide education in the form of kiosks/websites, posters, and tour guides about our high-performance buildings and how they contribute to a better workplace as well as reducing our energy use, water use, and carbon emissions. https://www.uccs.edu/~kiosk/seng/. In the Osborne Science and Engineering Building there is a green building tour that is assigned by faculty to help students learn about sustainable buildings. Along with the 23 stops on the tour educating participants on sustainable features in the building, participants learn about the principles of USGBC LEED standards. Tour guide is uploaded at the end of this credit.


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:

Multiple solar installations on the campus have served as an awareness tool and as a subject of research for students. Student research papers from the Technical Writing and Presentation course utilize utility data to propose changes to our energy portfolio, lighting retrofit projects, and more. One course integrated experiential learning through installation of a system on the Sustainability Demonstration House.

https://communique.uccs.edu/?p=115771


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:

The connection between academic integration and promotion of health and wellness through food service transition began to solidify in an overarching inter- and transdisciplinary framework, now called Sustainability, Wellness & Learning or SWELL.
1. SWELL leverages the emerging synergies when health promotion and sustainability (e.g., economic, environmental, social) are integrated.
2. An example of this synergy is found in Food Next Door. Food Next Door is entering its second year of operation, managed by graduate students in Health Sciences and Sport Nutrition, and is located at Roaring Fork Dining Hall. At Food Next Door you will find delicious, locally grown, sustainably focused dishes carefully crafted with nutrition expertise to bring you a well-balanced, tasty lunch.
3. Grain School - On-site 3-day program run by faculty and students regarding the local grain shed, supporting heritage grains, working with farmers to grow more for the school, etc.
4. Farmhouse and Cookbook Fridays - Faculty and students from Sport Nutrition hold open sessions for campus community members on various farm to table topics with goal of meeting farmers and getting more local food on campus.

Students in our Health and Nutrition programs frequently partner with our food services operations to educate about local and organic food and the role they play in health and wellness. Dining services has converted to either re-usable materials or compostable to-go containers.

https://swell.uccs.edu/


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:

1. The research conducted in the UCCS Tree Ring Lab seeks to use dendrochronological methods to analyze climate change impacts and forest resilience within the local context of the UCCS campus. This project will: (a) determine what climatic factors influence annual growth of dominant tree species (ponderosa pine, piñon pine, Douglas fir, and Rocky Mountain juniper), (b) analyze how historical droughts have impacted the growth of campus-area trees, and (c) use this information to provide insight into the resilience of UCCS’s woodland ecosystems to climate change. The project addresses these objectives by engaging UCCS community members through paid student research experiences, unpaid research experiences in GES courses and for-credit internships, and outreach events which will raise awareness of the local impacts of climate change on the woodland ecosystems adjacent to main campus. This project provides research, internship, and outreach opportunities for students from all majors.

https://www2.uccs.edu/treeringlab/

2. The UCCS Open Space Soil and Revegetation Study project investigated plant recovery by collecting and interpreting data from open space trail soil collection from the on-campus trail system. By analyzing the soils present on different trails and comparing it to the aspect, slope, and the percent cover of the plants present adjacent the trails and in closed trails, we gain a better understanding of plant recovery in relation to trail dynamics.

https://gaf.uccs.edu/projects/projects-funded/soil-revegetation-research


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:
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IIs 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:

Drive On- Electric vehicle battery research on dune buggy vehicles
M. Scott Trimboli, Ph.D., Dept of ECE, College of EAS,
Gregory L. Plett, Ph.D., Dept of ECE, College of EAS, with 8 students.
Our research team at UCCS is globally recognized for its leadership in modeling and controls for high-capacity battery systems spanning 15 years. There are over 3,600 citations in the literature to our publications and our approaches are implemented in commercial products. Applications of this research have had an impact on the trajectory of xEV design and on the broader interest of reducing the use of fossil fuels for transportation. Research conducted at UCCS has focused on developing a deep understanding of how batteries work and leveraging that understanding to build state-of-the-art battery controls that extract maximum performance while simultaneously maximizing lifetime – and thereby extending range and reducing size, cost, and charge times – of battery packs for future xEVs.


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:

The Mechanical Engineering senior design course received a Green Action Fund grant to go to Entusi, Uganda to design food storage. The design will serve as a storage hub for all the farmers in the Entusi, Uganda, area to store their produce during market season long enough to be able to get competitive prices after the market season is over and produce are more scarce. The main crop produced by the farmers in the region is potatoes. The project was presented at the Annual Senior Design Expo before the students graduated.


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

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

An undergraduate, biology student assisted Dr. Emily Mooney from August to December 2019 in her research of assessing the impacts of Polyfluorocarbons (PFC) bioaccumulation/biomagnification through a riparian food web. They went out and collected soil, vegetation, and insect samples which will be sent to the Chemistry lab to measure the concentration of PFCs. Insect samples were sorted into Order and compared how many of each Order was found in a given site and how far the site is from Fountain Creek Watershed. An insect biodiversity decline was then determined along the gradient of PFC impact in the Fountain Creek Watershed. This student presented a poster at Mountain Lion Research Day and gave a verbal speech at the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium in February 2020. UCCS campus is part of the Fountain Creek Watershed.


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:

Four Office of Sustainability student employees are managing credits for UCCS’ February 2021 STARS submission. They are actively leading conversations with campus partners to collect data and better institutionalize this process.


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:

Per AASHE’s definition of diversity, “AASHE respects, values and celebrates the unique attributes, characteristics, and perspectives that make each person who they are,” this capstone course seeks to support the international student population at UCCS, which will ensure engagement of varying cultures and perspectives.

A graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program is currently completing her capstone report on the topic of providing better support, engagement, and community in the international student population at UCCS. The purpose of the capstone report is to help the International Affairs Office at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) to develop better events, workshops, and activities. There is a need to examine the demands of international students more in depth to create adequate resources for their study abroad experience. It is clearly defined that international students face unique hurdles and need more social support and connections with host country individuals. Creating better social support structures for international students is one of the many services offered by the International Affairs office. The more effective events at UCCS, the happier international students are, which then creates a better study aboard experience and higher international student retention.


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

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

The student organization, Students for Environmental Awareness & Sustainability (SEAS), worked with peer institutions and the Colorado Springs community to advocate for the closure of the coal-fired, Drake Power Plant by 2023. This Power Plant provides majority of the energy currently for the Colorado Springs Utilities’ power grid. Students focused on this issue for many reason, but to also support greening of the grid for UCCS’ energy purchases.

https://seas.uccs.edu/


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

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

A graduate student in Health Promotion graduate program designed, conducted, and researched the effectiveness of a wellness workbook intervention for students in peer-leader roles (Resident Advisors on the UCCS campus). Results were used to improve the program for future interventions.


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

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.