Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 56.22
Liaison Olivia Wiebe
Submission Date Jan. 28, 2022

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Olivia Wiebe
Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability Coordinator
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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:

Environmental Science PhD student Madison Dougherty is planning on researching sustainable behaviors and norms on campus at University of Idaho. Her dissertation project is still in its formative phase, but she is proposing to begin research on recycling behaviors through a series of interviews and focus groups, as well as designing a recycling intervention with control and experimental variables. Her goal is to use the results of her mixed-methods research to provide practical recommendations to the University of Idaho on how to best influence pro-environmental behaviors within our faculty, staff, and students and engage campus in a modified recycling program.


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:

The UI Confluence Lab, made up of faculty and graduate students, host Earth to Sky professional development workshops. Confluence Lab members organize and host professional development opportunities for educators on campus and around the state to learn about climate impacts such as wildfire and drought and consider pedagogy to address these difficult issues with students.


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:

In 2021, Layal Alawi Hussain, a senior studying landscape architecture at the University of Idaho, was a featured undergraduate researcher who aims to help the Moscow community address climate change and increase walkability locally using data collected through surveys and GIS analysis.

Layal’s research is focused on the Palouse Mall parking lot and adjacent Highway 8,just off of the northern end of campus near the Soil Stewards Farm. According to Layal, GIS analysis of Moscow showed these locations radiated greater amounts of heat compared to other areas of town. Her research focuses on the Urban Heat Island Effect, where certain areas rise in temperature and become warmer than other areas due to human activity, which can have many effects on climate change, air and water quality and human health.

Through her design, Layal hopes to lessen the Urban Heat Island Effect and build a safer and more climate-friendly Moscow. She also wants to instill a sense of community in residents through education and planning while addressing a global climate crisis.

https://www.uidaho.edu/research/students/undergraduate-research/vandals-in-focus/2021/layal-hussain


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 2021, as part of an introductory engineering course (ENGR 204), students were asked to work with local clients to investigate potential solutions for problems facing the community. Five students worked with the Sustainability Center to determine the viability of installing motion sensors for the lights in the Menard Law Library. The library was chosen because it is lit 24/7 to accommodate different study schedules. The students worked with partners on campus to acquire occupancy sensors and light output monitors and set them up throughout the first floor of the library. They also mapped the area and catalogue the light bulb types of each existing fixture.

Part of their project was to develop a methodology for determining the value of installing motion sensors on the lights in different rooms and buildings across campus. They were able to track occupancy patterns, measure light outputs, and identify fixtures that needed to be retrofitted for LEDS. Using this methodology, this group was able to estimate cost savings, returns on investment and increases in energy efficiency. This procedure will allow for future student projects that will advance building efficiency.


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:

In Spring 2021, two seniors in Ecology and Conservation Biology were awarded $2,200 to install Smart energy meters in 5 fraternity and sorority houses. These meters were used to host an energy use competition between the houses that aimed to incentivize the chapter houses to reduce their energy consumption. The result of the competition was to determine the viability of installing meters into on-campus residential buildings and the potential returns on investment the meters could produce through energy cost savings.

The energy meters were able to raise a consciousnesses for energy usage on a daily basis, as well as informed the participants what actions had measurable impacts on their house's energy consumption. One of the specific results of this competition was the behavioral change associated with energy use and laundry machines. The meters showed promising results, but the pandemic affected the results enough to require further investigation.


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:

According to Soil Stewards Current Research page:

"Researchers in the Department of Soil and Water Systems and Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology have teamed up to study agricultural systems transitioning to organic production of alfalfa and small grain crops. The goal of this project is to support the development of resilient certified organic farming systems in Idaho and eastern Washington through enhancing our
knowledge of the impacts of tillage management and fertilizer practices on soil biological communities and soil health. This research will be used to develop meaningful targets for soil health and pathways to success for transitioning farmers.

One of the four replicated plot studies is located at the Soil Stewards farm. In these plots, researchers and graduate students will be measuring a wide range of soil and entomological parameters over a three year period (Spring 2021-Fall 2023) including: earthworm populations, microbial biomass, aggregate
stability, soil infiltration, soil organic carbon (water extractable C, permanganate oxidizable C, and total SOC), macro and micro nutrients, pH, nematode populations and soil arthropods.

For more information email: Kendall Kahl, kkahl@uidaho.edu or Jodi Johnson-Maynard, jmaynard@uidaho.edu"

https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/soil-stewards-farm/research


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:

In the Fall 2021 semester, an undergraduate student worked with Dr. Grant Harley to map every tree on the Moscow campus. This student, Jon Asker, collected information on clade and diameter of the trunk for each tree and input the data into a geodatabase in GIS software. As the research continues into the Spring 2022 semester, the goal is to map all tress on campus as gymnosperm or angiosperm, record their size, calculate carbon stores, do a general spatial analysis, and make it such that the inventory can be re-measured in subsequent years to calculate any changes to any of the collected metrics. As of the date of this submission, Jon has nearly completed the entire campus (except arboreta) and he’s up to 700+ trees. Jon's work will be used to inform future Greenhouse Gas Inventories.


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

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

In 2021, a senior began the process of creating a Sustainable Purchasing policy for the University of Idaho. Grace McGreevy, the Projects and Grants Coordinator for the Sustainability Center, began working with staff in Contracts and Purchasing Services to complete a Sustainable Purchasing Policy that individual offices and departments across campus can access for guidance on waste minimization, reusing materials, and responsibly sourcing new supplies and furniture.

This project will allow us to gage interest in sustainability on a departmental level, as well as serve as a comprehensive resource for sustainable office supplies and best practices.

The desired end result will be to empower and educate individual units on the impact each can have on campus sustainability, prove that sustainable alternatives can still be cost effective, and eventually implement a similar policy at a university-wide level.


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:

In 2019, Melissa Marsing, a junior in chemical engineering, and her team, the Vandal Clean Energy Club, sought to address the fueling process for biodiesel on campus. The Vandal Clean Energy Club and the Biodiesel Awareness program collects used cooking oil from the ISUB and makes it into biodiesel with an impressive 90% conversion rate. The old process was slow, unsafe, and often resulted in overfilling, vehicle collisions, and other costly damages. This dangerous and inconvenient situation meant vehicles on campus were missing many opportunities for biodiesel usage.

Through a Sustainability Center student grant, the club was able to install a B100 biodiesel fueling station behind the James Martin Laboratory to serve the Biodiesel Education Program and university steam plant vehicles. This purchase of a fuel monitoring system with dispenser and a donated fuel tank, the biodiesel fueling process has since become much safer, faster, and more accessible for diesel vehicles on campus.

In the same year, Addie White, a junior in biological engineering were awarded a Sustainability Center Student Grant to refurbish a solar collector that was donated to the club. This solar collector is used to heat water needed for refining the biodiesel they produce to provide a cleaner fuel source for campus vehicles.

Both of these projects have improved our biodiesel program and made biodiesel a more accessible option for the campus.


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:

In 2020, Addie White, a senior in biological engineering, was awarded a Sustainability Center Student Grant to conduct an aluminum recycling competition among the Greek houses. Addie used her welding skills to design, create, and distribute a unique can crusher to 15 chapter houses. By the end of the competition, 81,500 cans were crushed & recycled in 8 weeks by 15 different chapter houses. This competion diverted a significant volume of recyclable material from the landfill, engaged greek students in sustainability, and created an effective and fun method for can recycling. These steel can crushers feature the shape of the university's logo and are still in use in the chapter houses and other areas of campus. The crushers make recycling a fun, sensory experience, prevent contamination, and save space by reducing the size of a can by 75%.


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:

In 2020, Annika Esau, a senior in computer science, was awarded a Sustainability Center Student Grant to replace a 12,500 square foot section of lawn grass in front of the Hartung Theater with a drought tolerant grass. The reclaimed water system at the university services the majority of campus vegetation, which leads to significant strain on the system. Any reductions in water usage has a significant impact on the health of the system. The new varietal of grass requires less maintenance and watering, reducing our campus water use and carbon footprint.

This project also featured a pilot method for replacing grass on campus that enhanced the health of the watershed. The project site sat on a steep grade, that had a storm water catch basin at the bottom. In the past, herbicides were used to kill the current grass and the area needed to be fertilized for the new seeds. In this project, sheet composting was used to kill the old grass, and the compost was reintegrated into the soil as fertilizer for the new seeds. This prevented the herbicides from draining into the catch basin and eventually into Paradise Creek.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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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 Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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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 Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
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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 Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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1. Campus Engagement: Madison Dougherty, Doctoral Candidate, CNR
2. Public Engagement: Kayla Bordelon, Doctoral Candidate, CNR
3. Air & Climate:
https://www.uidaho.edu/research/students/undergraduate-research/vandals-in-focus/2021/layal-hussain
4. Grounds: Dr. Grant Harley, Faculty, Geography and Geological Sciences
5. Energy, Buildings, Transportation, Purchasing, Waste, Water: Olivia Wiebe, Sustainability Center Coordinator; Department of Student Involvement
6. Food & Dining: Alison Detjens, Soil and Water Systems Faculty; https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/soil-stewards-farm/research

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.