Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.93
Liaison Nathanael Schildbach
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

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
"---" 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:

There are many courses at UMass that are using the campus as a living lab focused on engaging the campus community around sustainability issues but most notable is the Integrated Concentration in Sceinces (iCons) program courses.

https://icons.cns.umass.edu/

The Integrated Concentration in Science (UMass iCons) Program is a 20-credit certificate available to all majors in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at UMass Amherst. iCons students take iCons 1 in the spring of their 1st or 2nd year, learning problem-solving, teamwork, and communication attitudes and skills, while applying STEM concepts and skills to tackle real-world problems. In the second year of iCons, each student cohort splits into two tracks: Renewable Energy and Biomedicine/Biosystems, with a different section of iCons 2 for each track. The focus of iCons 2 is honing the attitudes and skills of effective 360 degree communication — communicating clearly and persuasively with: (i) STEM workers in one’s own field, (ii) STEM workers in other fields, and (iii) non-STEM workers. Communication in i2e is considered broadly as reading, writing, speaking, discussing, and debating on issues relevant to current problems in renewable energy. Each student tailors i2e to their interests and needs by choosing their own set of learning goals upon which their progress will be measured, and their own set of renewable energy problems that pique their interests.

The iCons 2 Energy course uses the energy infrastructure and climate action planning of the campus as a living lab and in the past years and current years gives the students an opportunity to pitch their project ideas in multiple engagement platforms. Prior to 2019-2020, the final project assignment was an innovative and engaging sustainability project proposal to the Sustainability Innovation & Engagement Fund.

In 2019-2020, the program challenges the students to develop renewable energy solutions that will “green” the energy infrastructure of campus through the UMass Carbon Mitigation Challenge (CMC). The overall objective of iCons 2 Energy in Spring is thus to successfully pitch to the UMass Chancellor’s Carbon Mitigation Taskforce an innovative and compelling carbon mitigation project that will help bring UMass Amherst to net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2030. Students will have the opportunity to present their projects at a campus Energy Forum event and to the Taskforce which consists of faculty, staff, and students.


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 Deerfield Street Initiative:

Students from the Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning Studio course led a an experiential learning project for the nearby town of Greenfield to create a vision plan for recreating a major corridor in the town.

The goal of the Master of Regional Planning Studio is to develop a student’s techniques for collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing spatial and non-spatial data and then presenting that collective data in a manner (i.e., report, video, presentation, and charettes) that is understandable to academics, professionals, and the public. Planning Studio allows students to integrate knowledge from coursework and research, and apply such knowledge to resolving representative planning problems. At UMASS Amherst, these problems are found in neighborhood, rural, urban, and/or regional settings.

For the fall 2018 Planning Studio, the Town of Greenfield tasked the Masters of Regional Planning Studio to prepare a vision plan that focuses on improving Greenfield’sRoute 5 Southern/Deerfield Street Corridor. Greenfield’s Deerfield Street neighborhood serves as the southern gateway to the Downtown. This area has been in transition for several years as the City has invested in housing and infrastructure along this stretch. The key projects have been upgrade of sidewalks, creation of a small riverside park, renovation of distressed housing. Recently, the neighborhood has seen investment in new housing. The Arbors (constructed in 2007) is an upscale assisted housing residence thatalso has low-income housing units. The Green River Commons (2018) consists of eight new high performance (energy) modest-sized condominiums with units as fourlow-income housing. In addition, there are several multifamily homes have been or are scheduled for rehabilitation under the City's Housing Rehab Program.

The goals for the client were:
1. Conduct Public Engagement
2. Determine Parcel Development Potential
3. Develop Neighborhood Vision Plan

Students surveyed the neighborhood residents, business owners, and other stakeholders to get their input on neighborhood revitalization. They used methods such as asset mapping, visual preference survey, and vision mapping.

More detail of this experiential learning project can be found here:
https://scholarworks.umass.edu/larp_grad_research/62/


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:

Many courses at UMass use the campus as a living lab for learning about air and climate. One course, NRC 185 Sustainable Living: Solutions for the 21st Century taught by Lena Fletcher uses previous Climate Action Plans (v1.0 and v2.0) to task the students with designing the next Climate Action plan 3.0! In teams students create and present a solution from their Climate Action Plan 3.0 to help UMass become carbon neutral ahead of schedule. Their solutions can be a policy, program, transportation improvement, or energy-saving technology. They are asked to research the Climate Action Plan 2.0 thoroughly to make sure solution ideas have not already been proposed.

This course information has been uploaded to the open source sustainability Scholarworks page making it available to the entire global community: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=sustainableumass_educationresources.


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:

Mount Ida Greenhouse Gas Inventory & Clean Energy Plan:
https://ag.umass.edu/clean-energy/student-engagement/mount-ida-greenhouse-gas-inventory-clean-energy-plan

In Spring 2019, UMass Clean Energy Extension (CEE) offered a course on the Amherst campus to (1) teach students the principles and methodologies of greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory analysis and clean energy analysis, and (2) begin to collect data and information on the Mt. Ida campus. The two graduate and four upper-level undergraduate students in the class then spent four weeks in the summer of 2019 on the Mt. Ida campus as part of the Clean Energy Corps, conducting a GHG inventory and evaluating clean energy opportunities for energy reductions through system controls, space management, and building energy efficiency measures, as well as for renewable energy generation on campus. The team engaged with staff from state energy agencies, NGOs, and utilities throughout the process.

The team produced a final report and presentation to the University with its findings and recommendations, available here:

Report: Mount Ida Campus Greenhouse Gas, Clean Energy, and Sustainability Planning
https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/pdf-doc-ppt/mount_ida_campus_sustainability_report_july_2019.pdf

Presentation: Mount Ida Campus Greenhouse Gas, Clean Energy, and Sustainability Planning
https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/pdf-doc-ppt/final_presentation_-_mt._ida_ghg_and_clean_energy_planning_2019.pdf

Project Background
As the University takes on the ownership of the Mount Ida College campus in Newton, the site will become a substantial new facility subject to the Governor’s Executive Order 484, which sets aggressive goals for energy use reduction, renewable energy generation, and GHG emission reductions for MA state facilities. The Executive Order establishes the state’s Leading by Example (LBE) program, led by the Department of Energy Resources, to work with state facilities to measure, track and help meet these goals. The University will be responsible for reporting to LBE information on energy use across electricity and fuels for thermal energy and transportation, and to begin developing strategies for bringing the campus into compliance the LBE program goals. The project provided a research and public service opportunity for students helping the University in meeting these goals.


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:

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/.


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 Student Farm is an avenue for UMass students to learn how to operate their own farms from growing practices to marketing techniques. The UMass farm has grown to manage 20 acres with ten acres in production each season, servicing a 125 member on-campus CSA, UMass Earthfoods Cafe, UMass Dining Services, four Big Y Supermarkets, and the UMass Student Farmers Market. Every year sees twelve to fifteen new Student Farmers who take the lead on planning the season, working the land, and harvesting and marketing the produce. They offer a Fall CSA where the produce is planned, planted, grown, harvested and sold by students!
https://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/student-farm.

The formal learning component of the Student Farm is the Student Farming Enterprise, STOCKSCH 376 "Managing the Student Farm I: Planning for Production" during the spring semester, working on the farm during summer session, and then "Managing the Student Farm II: Harvesting, Marketing and Finances" in the fall. Both the spring and fall semester lecture courses are designed to be taken with the spring practicum course STOCKSCH 398E "The Student Farming Enterprise" and fall practicum course STOCKSCH 498E "The Student Farming Enterprise."


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:

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. https://bct.eco.umass.edu/ses/program/arboriculture-community-forest-management

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. These students have designed and built the first Pollinator Garden on the campus and other wildlife habitat areas in collaboration with Landscape Services and Grounds. https://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/


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 2020, The UMass Physical Plant Sustainability Office and the School of Earth and Sustainability partnered to create the first STARS Student Internship program. In Spring 2020, there are 4 students working on the four Purchasing Operations credits of this STARS report, conducting market analysis of the large procurement data sets of OP12: Electronics Purchasing, OP13: Cleaning and Janitorial Purchasing, and OP14: Office Paper Purchasing.

Formal learning component: Once the students complete their data analysis for the STARS report, the students are assigned to write final papers that include recommendations to the UMass Procurement Office to advance these areas of purchasing. Through monthly meetings with all interns and the Campus Sustainability Manager and SES Assistant Director and the final paper graded as pass/fail, there are opportunities throughout the semester and internship experience for the students' learning to be assessed and documented.


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:

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

In Fall 2019, the Mathematics 456 course taught by Assistant Professor Annie Raymond, dedicated their entire study and course assignments to analyzing the campus and regional bike share system operations, ValleyBike. The students looked at large data sets of ridership throughout the region and created proposals for optimizing bike station locations, bike reconciling methods, dock locations, and maintenance and cleaning of the the system equipment.
The course description: This course is an introduction to mathematical modeling. The main goal of the class is to learn how to translate real-world problems into quantitative terms for interpretation, suggestions of improvement and future predictions. Since this is too broad of a topic for one semester, this class will focus on linear and integer programming to study real world problems that affect real people. The course will culminate in a final modeling project that will involve optimizing the logistics of the Valley Bikeshare service.
https://people.math.umass.edu/~raymond/syllabus456.pdf


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:

Several courses use the campus waste system as a living laboratory but most comprehensively is the Environmental Science course "Solving Environmental Problems Together" taught by Professor Craig Nicolson.

EnvSci 445 is designed to offer students opportunities to become practiced at workable answers to environmental problems and can explain their solutions clearly and persuasively, "in a hands-on way using the campus waste system as our laboratory for problem solving."

During this course the class visits the UMass Waste Recovery Transfer Facility (WRTF) and then writes an op-ed to the school paper about "zero waste goals" and whether they beleive it is a fantasy or a stretch-goal.

The two projects that use campus as a living lab:
Project 1 is a proposal which pitches a solution students have to develop for a campus waste system issue (e.g. piloting dorm composting for a given area).
In project 2 they develop an environmental communication video related to the campus energy system.


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:

Each spring, the course Sustainable Green Infrastructure Planning and Design (LA 591I/RP 591I)
is taught by professor Robert L. Ryan. The course uses the entire physical campus as a living lab for the final projects. This course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and applications of greenway and green infrastructure planning at multiple scales, including the site level, neighborhood, and regional scales. A particular area of focus is the relationship of green infrastructure for improving hydrology and riparian corridors as part of comprehensive green space planning for recreation and cultural resources. The course looks at a wide range of systems including water, transportation, and food systems. A case study approach is used to study green infrastructure projects both domestically and internationally from a planning and policy perspective, as well as implementation.

Final project: Since this course is focused on helping students address “real-world” environmental problems while accommodating human needs, the final project allows students to synthesize the skills and knowledge they have learned in the class to an actual site/situation of the campus. Students choose their own site and general topic related to the course; and write a report discussing how they would address this environmental problem using a multi-functional green infrastructure solution.

Many of the projects that have come out of this course have focused on greening the Tan Brook watershed that runs through the center of the campus.

This course syllabus and information has been posted to the UMass Sustainability ScholarWorks page making it available to the entire global community here: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=sustainableumass_educationresources


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?:
Yes

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

UMass prides itself for it's food equity and social justice education, especially with a focus on farm-based education and social equity in the food system.

Professor Sarah Berquist, instructor and program coordinator of the sustainable food and farming program in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture offers hands-on projects that are actively working toward a more just and sustainable food system. In collaboration with the student farm, she co-founded and manages the Food for All Program, which donated 10,000 pounds of recovered produce in 2018 to the local relief organizations Not Bread Alone and the Amherst Survival Center. She also mentors students who design and execute garden-based lessons with K-6 grade students with the School Garden Program at Amherst Regional Public Schools. The formal applied students learning comes in the courses STOCKSCH 297 A - Agricultural Leadership and Community Education and STOCKSCH 197 SCO2 - Sustainable Farming and Food Systems both entail learning on the campus farms at the Agricultural Learning Center and UMass Student Farm.

Stockbridge School of Agriculture 356 Food Justice and Policy — Professor Catherine Sands
This course examines the role of policy in determining WHAT we eat, WHO experiences barriers to access to safe, healthy, local, fairly produced foods, and HOW we create equity and sustainability in our local food system. We will start by looking at the basic components of our food system: production, distribution, and consumption. We will then examine systemic structures of race, class, citizenship and ability as they relate to access to healthy local food. The course-work concludes with an in-depth look at food sovereignty, the right of communities to choose how their food is produced and what they consume, the impact of agribusiness and the concentration of resources into the hands of a few corporations, and the dramatic effect U.S. food policies have on the rest of the world. Students will have the opportunity to do research and analysis useful to those working for food change in the Pioneer Valley region.


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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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.