Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.77
Liaison Nathanael Schildbach
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Massachusetts Amherst
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ezra Small
Sustainability Manager
Physical Plant
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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:

Prof Rick Peltier and Prof Charlie Schweik are engaged in a research project (2015-2018) including UMass students that aims to enable a platform for the development of inexpensive, user-configurable air pollution sensors. UMass students have tested these sensors in campus-based projects assessing local campus air quality. The larger goal of the research project is build a network of solutions well suited for use in the developing world, where pollution levels, and corresponding public health risks, are highest.


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:

Campus Planning supports a cohort of Green Building Researchers who work to advance green building policies and provide in-house LEED consulting for new construction and major renovation projects on campus. The Green Building Researchers have assisted the campus Green Building Committee in developing and updating the Green Building Guidelines for UMass, an official green building guidebook for all major construction projects, as well as developed a methodology for calculating scope III air travel and commuter emissions.

Students work with campus energy engineers as well on a variety of projects related to building energy use. For example, Brendan McGowan, a masters student in sustainability science conducted a pilot project focused on reducing energy usage of fume hoods in the university’s science laboratories.


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 regularly submit energy conservation and renewable energy related proposals to the campus Sustainability Innovation and Engagement Fund. One example project, completed in 2015, was the installation of occupancy sensors in a number of classrooms in the Isenberg School of Management. The student used data loggers set in the classrooms for a period of two weeks to analyze the amount of time the lights remained on compared to the times that the classroom was scheduled to be occupied. Once this data had been collected, she was able to determine the avoided cost savings achieved through efficient use of the lights, and was able to estimate the cost and return on investment of installing the occupancy sensor that would make create that enhanced efficiency.
http://www.umass.edu/sustainability/get-involved/sustainability-innovation-engagement-fund

iCons Program: Students in the Integrated Concentration in Science focus on either energy or biomedicine and have been assigned to develop energy flow diagrams of the entire UMass campus. They regularly tie in campus energy systems when studying the following topics: Renewable Energy Biomass-fired Power Plants, UMass Power Plant Efficiencies, Amherst Solar Energy Farm (new), Fuel Cells and Soldier Power (new), and Nuclear Energy.
http://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/

Professor Craig Nicolson teaches both graduate and undergraduate classes involving analysis of the campus energy system (ENVIRSCI 445, and ECO 697PS). In these two classes, students have worked on projects analyzing the energy use in residence halls and other buildings at UMass Amherst, making recommendations to the Director of Housing for how energy use and emissions can be reduced. UMass has over 14,000 students living on campus, and in Res Hall energy use accounts for a significant portion of our campus emissions.


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:

UMass Amherst has a Real Food Challenge Internship Program (for credit). Our Chancellor signed the Real Food Challenge in 2014, which made UMass the largest campus dining program (serving about 45,000 meals per day) to sign the agreement to that point. The challenge is a commitment for the institution assuring that 20% of the universities’ food purchases come from socially responsible farms and food businesses–what they call ‘real food.’ Professor Boone Shear regularly oversees STOCKSCH 198R (Real Food Practicum) in which students work each semester supported by UMass Dining/Auxiliary to audit UMass Dining procurement using the Real Food Calculator.


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:

Professor Paige Warren teaches NRC 564 Habitat Management where Students develop a habitat management plans for the campus to promote biodiversity, learning about the principles of Conservation Biology with the campus as the case study.

The Arboriculture program trains students using campus trees and arboretum. These students intern with the Grounds division of the Physical Plant.

Stockbridge School of Agriculture students also intern with the Grounds Division of the Physical Plant, growing plants and flowers for campus events and to make available for campus offices. In 2016-2017 these students designed and built the first Pollinator Garden on the campus in collaboration with Landscape Services and Grounds.


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:

UMass Amherst's Green Office Program offers students a chance to receive graded credit for analyzing and improving the purchasing throughout the many academic and administrative offices on campus. Acting as consultants, they are able to work with office managers to develop strategies and improve best practices for reducing both the amount of paper purchased and the amount that gets thrown away as well as develop and provide a green purchasing guide made up of products that are available to purchase through the campus vendors such as Office Max.

One effective way that they are able to do that is by communicating and working directly with our paper company's campus representative from Office Max. They are able to provide raw purchasing data over a period of months, which the students are then able to analyze and synthesize into useful charts and figures. They can then be used to educate offices on the financial and environmental merits of something as simple as reducing the amount of paper an office purchases on a monthly basis.

Through the Sustainability Innovation & Engagement Fund and the Sustainability Fellowship Program the Campus Sustainability Manager works with students to develop proposals for green purchasing policies. One such policy was written by SGA Secretary of Sustainability and Waste Fellow Ainsley Brosnan-Smith for the Procurement Office and the Campus Print Services to eliminate the use and selling of virgin office paper. This proposal was adopted in 2016 and now the Print Services shop which offers office paper to hundreds of offices across the campus no longer offers virgin paper and 30% post consumer/recycled content minimum.


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:

Students in Prof Eleni Christofa's Sustainability Transportation class (CE-ENGIN 597TS) learn about regional and campus transportation issues and propose solutions to them through the Sustainability Fund.

http://cee.umass.edu/faculty/eleni-christofa


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 Sustainable UMass Fellows program has Waste & Recycling Fellows each semester who conduct research and implement projects that reduce waste on campus. One project that came out of the Fellowship Program was New2U.

The New2U Reuse Program is an annual student run effort that is held during student move out weekend and move in weekend the following year. The program is designed to collect unwanted dorm room items that would otherwise be thrown away. The items are then sorted, catalogued, priced, and sold at a reduced price to students moving in the following year. Students are responsible for organizing the collection area, which most be large enough to accommodate material from approximately 5,000 students. They must then arrange a storage area for all collected material over the summer break, where they are also responsible for cleaning and pricing all of the items. The final stage of the program is a tag sale in September. Student leaders must register volunteers over the three day sale. They must also secure a room large enough for the sale. Students are responsible for securing funding for the program, and last year, generated over $11,000 in revenue.


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:

Multiple courses have focused on the Tan Brook including Tim Randhir's water management class and David Glassberg's Environmental History class. Graduate students in Landscape Architecture doing thesis on green infrastructure have designed stormwater management solutions for areas of the tan brook to reduce the amount of runoff and erosion caused by the growing impervious surfaces along the watershed in the town of Amherst and on campus.

The first successfully implemented Sustainability Fund Project was proposed by an Eco-Rep student to install low flow sustainable shower heads throughout her residential area.


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:

The Campus Master Plan (published 2016), Energy Master Plan (completed 2015), and Green Building Guidelines are all examples of how the administration uses the campus as a living lab for coordination and planning. Each of these plans have sustainability components and have successfully changed the culture on campus to be extremely supportive of sustainability initiatives. Faculty have been integrally involved in the development of all of these plans, and integrate these planning and coordination documents into their teaching and class project work.


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:

Diversity:
The Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Committee, brings together offices, programs and individuals who do important work to advance our campus's commitment to diversity and equity. The committee is comprised of faculty, staff, students, and community members and chaired by Debora Ferreira, Executive Director of Equal Opportunity & Diversity. This Committee serves as an advisory board on matters of diversity, and has been charged with reviewing campus policies and procedures related to diversity; helping to develop new, coordinated initiatives to advance diversity and equity on campus; and contributing to the development of a comprehensive diversity and equity plan.

Affordability:
The Center for Education Policy & Advocacy is a policy and advocacy agency that builds student power and strengthens student voice. CEPA also works on higher education issues at a statewide level, lobbying in support of access to an affordable college education in the state of Massachusetts. CEPA operates as an agency of the Student Government Association and is structured into four core teams: Access and Affordability, Campus Culture, Gender Equity, and Student Labor Action Project. Working both independently and collaboratively, the core teams build partnerships with students, student organizations, faculty, staff, and the administration to institutionalize student voice and shared governance. Our campaigns cover a range of student issues and strive to build a campus environment that is inclusive of and responsive to the diverse needs of students from different cultures and backgrounds, including but not limited to ALANA, LGBTQ, low socio-economic, first generation, international and nontraditional students. We always welcome new members and encourage students to check the core team descriptions below. Together we can continue to work towards a unified and powerful student voice.

Access and Affordability Core Team
Access and Affordability is the statewide advocacy core team of CEPA that works with student groups at other state universities and colleges in Massachusetts as well as across the country (New Jersey, Wisconsin, Oregon, and California to just name a few). This core team focuses on advocating for increased funding for public higher education and the overall affordability and accessibility of higher education on a statewide level and national level. CEPA’s Access and Affordability core team supports the expansion of shared governance within the university, state, and country. They also deal with the issue of student debt-- something that has now surpassed a trillion dollars nationally.


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:

Over the past four to five years, students and faculty have been actively engaged in the advocacy for and campus education of fossil fuel divestment. With an active petition of more than 3,000 student signatures, the core group of Divest UMass Amherst has met with the campus Chancellor, the University President, and the Board of Directors of the UMass Foundation. The group of students successfully persuaded the Foundation to create a new Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Committee: http://www.umassp.edu/foundation/socially-responsible-investing-advisory-committee

Students have also organized numerous educational events to raise awareness of the effects the campus's endowment can have on prolonging and increasing climate change. As a core team of the Center for Education, Policy, and Advocacy, students are paid and receive credit for their participation and leadership in this campaign.


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:

Many professors in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (e.g., Prof Flavia Montenegro-Menezes, Prof Ellen Pader) and Architecture (e.g. Prof Joseph Krupczynski) conduct public engagement projects on a regular basis.

Among many other possible examples, Prof Montenegro-Menezes' project in Holyoke MA, "Participatory Asset Mapping: Sustainable Planning and Development in Holyoke", developed a tested and transferable approach to integrating unique cultural assets into regional planning.


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 Department of Kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst operates the Body Shop Fitness Center in the Totman building. This fitness center serves as a teaching lab and a gym. The Body Shop provides students a chance to have hands on experience with clients and to interact with the Amherst community. Our goal is for the students to apply their knowledge from classes and previous experiences and share it within the Body Shop community. Additionally, the Body Shop is used to conduct a variety of research projects and used for kinesiology courses as well. The shop also has exercise equipment that generates electricity providing learning opportunities for renewable energy while exercising.
https://www.umass.edu/sphhs/kinesiology/body-shop


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)?:
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 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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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.