Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 52.36
Liaison Matthew Williams
Submission Date Dec. 4, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Maya Patel
Strategic Projects Manager
Office of 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:

A faculty member in the Department of Geological Sciences who teaches a course titled Climate Change Science and Solutions requires his students to complete a semester-long research project. Within the past academic years, some of those projects have included the effects and feasibility of installing solar panels on all university fraternities, creating a pamphlet about household energy consumption for customers of Gainesville’s local utility provider, and examining the potential cooling effect of painting all the roads in Alachua County (in which UF is located) a lighter color.


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:

Since the fall semester of 2014, faculty in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning have hosted Green Building Strategies: LEED Lab (DCP 4214), a course that uses the university as a laboratory for greening the built environment through implementation of LEED for Existing Buildings and Operations and Maintenance. The course is composed of undergraduate students studying architecture, engineering, sustainability, interior design, and planning. The course involves managing an actual project with site visits, investigations, data collection, audits using instrumentation, and collaboration with the building manager, utility provider(s) and other stakeholders.
In this course, students learn about campus operations and stakeholders, develop policies/directives related to building operations and maintenance, use utility data analysis and energy star ratings, and conduct water audits and transportation surveys. The goal of the course is to arm students with the knowledge, hands-on experience, confidence, and the ability to collaborate on and manage projects.


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:

UF’s Energy Services (within the Facilities Services) has worked closely with students and faculty to provide detailed data on campus building systems, operations, and energy use for research.

Example student project: a student recently analyzed how much solar PV capacity would be needed to make a building on campus carbon neutral.

Example faculty research: faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and his graduate students used building automation system (BAS) data to create a Personal Comfort Node (PCN) to allow occupants to interact with the PAS. The ultimate objective is to reduce the energy consumption by 40% without any reduction in occupant comfort. Another research group in the Department of Building Construction used the data to create a graphical representation of energy usage on campus at any given time. And recently, a PhD student is working on energy consumption prediction models based on this data.
Mech and Aero faculty: Dr. Prabir Barooah
Bldg Const faculty: Dr. Ravi Srinivasan

A fraternity on campus has also been partnering with the Energy Department to assist with an external lighting audit and AHU zone mapping.


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:

With the Field & Fork Campus Food Program, students learn sustainable agricultural practices through tutorials and hands-on experiences, and all the food produced is delivered to the Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry, to provide fresh, nutritious food to those in need within our community.
Field & Fork interns developed a gleaning program and a resource handbook that outlines legal and logistical guidelines for rescuing unharvested food from local community farms (that would otherwise have been tilled in), and delivering it to local food banks.


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 Field & Fork Campus Food Program serves the community as a living laboratory, offering a variety of opportunities to learn real-world skills while addressing multiple facets of sustainability. Over 900 hundred students and community members a year experience sustainable farming systems, learning to do everything from installing water-saving drip-irrigation systems, to employing integrated pest management and planting cover crops. In addition to that ongoing system, Field & Fork supports a variety of projects that meet the goals of hands-on experience in sustainability. This past semester, for example:
 Field & Fork interns worked with the Farm Manager to develop, test, and implement a variety of composting techniques for the campus farm (including a wooden three-bin system, vermicompost, and windrow composting). This program is now diverting food waste from landfills and turning it into soil amendments that nourish the farm.
 The Field & Fork graduate assistant is conducting field research to explore the most beneficial mix for cover crop diversity, and in doing the research, is helping the program hone its farming practices as well as providing additional food for the Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry and local food banks.
 A Soil and Water Science Department course spend the semester growing produce under a variety of soil nutrition regimes, to develop recommendations for growing the most productive methods with the least amount of wasted nutrient applications.
 The Field and Fork Program partnered a local non-profit to offer a class that addressed a real-world problem faced by the organization, and to explore the problem through research and a field experiment as part of a practicum class.

Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the course Urban Forestry FOR4090C annually complete an ecological assessment of UF's urban forest. Students work in groups to collect plot data across campus and use models to estimate carbon offsets, invasive tree abundance, tree canopy coverage, and other ecosystem services provided by the urban forest. They work together to prepare a written report and a presentation of results.
The course Forest Resource Information Systems FOR3434C provides students introductory training in geographic information systems (GIS) and how it relates to natural resource management. Many field labs are conducted at UF’s campus Natural Area Teaching Laboratory where students learn to collect field data using traditional compass and pacing techniques as well as with Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment. Their data are then applied during computer lab sessions to complete assignments which result in a map or analysis of the data, similar to what they will experience in a permanent work environment.


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:

N/A


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:

UF’s Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) regularly works with students in diverse courses who request data about parking spaces, parking decal sales, and citations. Professional staff from TAPS provide and discuss the data with students, who use the information in class projects. As a result of working with TAPS, students develop an understanding of the complex logistical considerations (environmental impact, economic cost, impact on the local community and infrastructure, etc.) that govern transportation decision-making on campus the size of a small city.

The UF Transportation Institute is collaborating with the Gainesville City government and the Florida Department of Transportation on a project called I-STREET – Gainesville’s Mobility Autobus. The project involves testing autonomous vehicles on and around campus. Sensors will be installed around 13th Street and University Avenue for the project, paving the way for this technology to be used throughout the city for autonomous vehicles as well as the smart technology already starting to be featured in cars. UF Faculty and graduate students in the UF Transportation Institute have been conducting research on UF and city transportation-related issues for the I-STREET project.


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:

Coffee grounds composting with the University of Florida Student Organic Garden and Field and Fork Garden – Gator Dining Services partners with the Field and Fork Student Gardens and Organic Gardens Cooperative to compost coffee grounds and lemon rinds. In 2018, the partnership led to the diversion of over 9,000 pounds of coffee grounds and 16,000 pounds of lemon rinds. This cooperative offers students the opportunity to learn and practice organic growing techniques, including effective composting.

The Student Compost Cooperative is a student-led organization dedicated to promoting sustainability at the campus and community level. Their goal is to encourage and train students, faculty, and staff at the University of Florida and other locals in Gainesville to compost their food waste, and teach them about the value of recycling and turning this waste into natural fertilizers. By creating a closed-loop system with their composting program, they help to reduce the volume of food waste disposed in landfills, which in turn reduces the release of harmful greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. The SCC maintains several composters to allow these students to compost their food waste. In addition the SCC closes the compost loop by maintaining a student-run organic garden in which students grow their own organic food using the compost they helped to create. The SCC hosts open houses, field days, and participates in a variety of other educational opportunities to help build awareness and to educate others about the benefits of composting.


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:

UF Natural Area Teaching Laboratory (NATL) is dedicate to teaching students and the public about ecology and biotic diversity. At the same time we offer family friendly and K-12 educational opportunities. It consists of 60 acres in two contiguous tracts in the southwest corner of campus. The larger tract, known as NATL-west, has 49 acres and is west of Natural Area/Surge Area Drive. The smaller tract, known as NATL-east, has 11 acres and is east of Natural Area/Surge Area Drive. NATL has significant samples of three upland ecosystems characteristic of north peninsular Florida: hammock, upland pine, and old-field succession. It has a variety of wetland habitats, including a 9-acre marsh in NATL-east that drains into a pond and sinkhole in NATL-west and a 3-acre ecologically engineered retention basin (SEEP) in the northeast corner of NATL-west.

Several courses in the Soil and Water Science department state using NATL and SEEP as living lab examples in their syllabi, e.g. SWS 5248 – Wetlands and Water Quality


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

N/A


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

N/A


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:

N/A


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 UF Office of Sustainability worked with a local nonprofit organization, the Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC), to facilitate experiential learning opportunities with 6 undergraduate and 3 graduate courses in FY 17-18.
• PUR 3500 – Public Relations Research
• PUR 3622 – Social Media Management
• JOU 3601 – Photographic Journalism
• FYC 4426 – Risk Management for Nonprofits
• MMC 6936 – Content Marketing
• FYC 4410 & FYC 6424 – Fundraising for Nonprofits
• DCP 4941/6931 – Practicum in Sustainability and the Built Environment
• AEC 6300 – Methodology of Planned Change

CWC conducts home energy weatherization services and retrofits for free in Alachua County as a way of addressing inequitable utility bill burdens and the leakage of natural resources. The partnership helped the nonprofit address their organizational needs by providing resources such as a risk management strategy, a social media strategy, a 10-year anniversary marketing plan, etc.


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:

A doctoral student in the Behavior Analysis program in the Department of Psychology evaluated the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in the workplace. Specifically, interventions targeted sedentary office staff on the UF campus. As “too much sitting” is associated with both short- and long-term health risks, feedback and goal-setting interventions were implemented to evaluate how physical activity levels could be improved. This research is particularly relevant to university employees because they engage high levels of sitting. Barriers to increasing physical activity in the workplace included: work responsibilities, availability of preferred physical activity alternatives, and delays in feedback delivery.


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:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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.