Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 69.47
Liaison Sally DeLeon
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Maryland, College Park
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Mark Stewart
Sustainability Manager
Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk
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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:

Professors and students in Environmental Science and Technology, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, and Animal Science received a $20,000 grant from the University Sustainability Fund to build a small-scale anaerobic digester to test a new process of converting organic waste into energy. The new method of waste-to-energy conversion would occur approximately 15 times faster than conventional methods. The long-term goal is to use dining hall food waste to make biogas. Biogas can be used to replace current natural gas, reducing our greenhouse gas consumption. Professor Kohn has proven the concept, which mimics a cow’s digestive process, in the lab with a one-liter system. The team plans to construct a one-cubic-meter digester to demonstrate that the process works at a larger scale.


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:

A graduate student in the Department of Computer Science received a $11,500 grant from the University Sustainability Fund to implement his project, Improving Campus Sustainability through Automated Thermography. The project will create automated 3D thermal profiling of UMD buildings using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ground-based robotics, 3D-reconstruction, and automatic anomaly detection. The overarching vision of the work is to improve energy auditing through the development of thermal profiling robots capable of surveying the interior and exterior of multiple buildings.


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:

Students and faculty in UMD's Building Science group compared electric Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of UMD campus buildings to electric EUI of buildings at Harvard and Penn State campuses. UMD residential buildings compare favorably, but UMD classroom/office buildings and research labs show higher electric energy use compared to similar buildings at the other campuses. Also, electric energy use intensity in UMD buildings is much greater than the total energy use intensity for a group of LEED office buildings. These LEED building EUIs were based on energy simulations, which most likely underestimated actual energy consumption, but the difference is large enough to suggest that UMD office/classroom buildings might use several times more electricity than their LEED counterparts.


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:

Students in our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are learning about sustainable farming techniques and growing food organically at Terp Farm, a 2-acre farm that produces fruits and vegetables that are consumed in the university's dining halls and food truck. Patrons of the dining halls and food truck learn about the students and other local farmers who grow their food.


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 Wildlife Society Student Chapter at UMD, students in Environmental Science & Policy, and students in Environmental Science & Technology received $1,741 from the University Sustainability Fund for a Nest Box Program, which will increase biodiversity on campus. Twenty nest boxes, scaled to accommodate a variety of native species of birds and bats, will be installed in green spaces on campus and monitored for occupancy. The nest boxes will provide shelter and security for these vulnerable species to reproduce and increase their populations. The nest box program will be integrated into the curriculum of at least one UMD course, ENST462: Techniques in Wildlife Management, which is taught by the project’s advisor, Dr. Jennifer Murrow.


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 in Dining Services are investigating the university's food purchasing and tracking purchasing by food types including beef, chicken, fish, etc.


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:

Gemstone Team BIKES, a student-led multidisciplinary research group within the honors college, received a $4,000 grant from the University Sustainability Fund to create a unique bikeshare system tailored to the specific needs of college students. The team will create a “smart lock” that will be permanently attached to all the bicycles in the bikeshare. The team seeks to create a quality smart lock that achieves a balance between bicycle security and user convenience.


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:

Intercollegiate Athletics, Facilities Management, Dining Services, and students are collaborating to go zero waste in all athletic facilities on the College Park campus, starting with Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. Zero waste means diverting at least 90% of solid waste from landfills and instead sending that solid waste to be recycled or composted. This ambitious goal will be reached by making continuous improvements to the waste collection system over the next three years. These improvements include installing more recycling and compost collection bins, implementing education and outreach activities, and eliminating the distribution of condiment packets and instead creating condiment stations near food courts.


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 student organization called Maryland Sustainability Engineering has designed and implemented several stormwater management systems on campus.


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:

Students and faculty from the Department of Mechanical Engineering work with the a campus-wide task force on implementing the President's Energy Conservation Initiative to reduce campus electricity consumption 20% between 2015 and 2020. They learn about the challenges of coordinating with stakeholders across campus to plan and implement energy conservation measures in data centers and server rooms. With support from the Office of Sustainability, the students and their faculty mentor perform energy audits for IT infrastructure across campus and deliver recommendations for energy conservation measures that the Task Force can fund and implement.


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:

Students in the Beyond the Classroom program have launched the Healthy Eating and Affordable Grocery Project to find collaborative solutions to food issues on campus and in College Park, MD, a USDA-designated food desert. The objective is to provide healthy, low-cost food options to UMD students, faculty, and staff as well as other residents of the College Park community.


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 student-run UMD Divestment Committee strives to: 1) provide compelling economic and environmental data on the negative affects of fossil fuel investment to key decision makers at the University of Maryland. 2) Harness and channel the energy and sentiments of the University of Maryland System community on the topic of fossil fuel divestment. By the end of the 2015 calendar year, our goals are to: 1) Submit a proposal to the University of Maryland System leadership explaining the importance of divesting in fossil fuels and outlining a strategy for fossil fuel divestment. 2) Create a space for the UMD Community to organize around divestment from fossil fuels at the University of Maryland.


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:

Students in the Office of Sustainability's LEAF Outreach team prepared a massive public engagement activity at the 2016 Maryland Day, an annual event that brought 80,000+ visitors to campus. On that day in April, they implemented the Small Footprint Pledge Program, which aims to provide an easy and accessible environmental action that anyone (adults and children) can take. By encouraging members of the Maryland Day community to pledge to small, easy actions and behavior changes, the program presents sustainability as an achievable goal – a series of daily habits and choices rather than overwhelmingly large changes. Pledge-takers will ideally be empowered by their initial action and feel comfortable taking more or bigger steps toward sustainability, whether those additional steps are further pledge actions or not. The pledge also aimed to demonstrate the cumulative impact of Maryland Day.


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