Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.13
Liaison Trey McDonald
Submission Date March 24, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of San Diego
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
3.60 / 4.00 Michel Boudrias
Associate Professor
Marine and Environmental Studies
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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 Campus Engagement?:
Yes

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

We typically support 2-5 classes per semester working directly on campus issues (food, waste, travel, water) connecting faculty, students, and staff to look for solutions to real campus issues. For example students in Communication Studies worked on several food related projects developing social media and marketing strategies while students in Sustainable Supply Chain worked with Procurement to analyze several areas that need increased efficiency in process and modernization of systems to enhance sustainable purchasing.


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:

Students, staff and faculty working directly with The Changemaker Hub and the Mulvaney Community Engagement Center partnered with community members to re-use and recycle furniture from USD, gathered data to look for solutions to homelessness issues, and developed plans for more intentional investments in our local communities.


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:

Professor Abby Berk had her students in Environmental Management calculate their carbon footprint and then worked with them so the whole class would offset their carbon impact. This kind of hands-on project matches some of the key components of USD's Climate Action Plan.


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:
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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 Energy?:
Yes

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

"Vampire Energy Slayers" is a formal program created by the Office of Sustainability and run by student interns to assess and reduce the use of stand-by power on campus.

"Vampire Energy" is the power consumed by electronic devices when they are “off.” Also known as stand-by or phantom energy, it can account for 10-15% of campus electrical consumption and the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions. At the University of San Diego alone, eliminating Vampire Energy would result in annual savings of $430,000 - $640,000 and reduce GHG emissions more than 700 mtCO2e. As technology advances and more electronic devices are used on campus, Vampire Energy increases. Despite the breadth of this consumption, this issue is not a primary focus of many campus education and conservation campaigns. At USD, we wanted to improve and expand awareness of Vampire Energy in a fun and interactive way.

To better educate the campus on this issue, student assistants were trained as “Vampire Energy Slayers” to identify and raise awareness of Vampire Energy. In 2018-19, seven buildings were “stalked,” once in the Fall semester and again in the Spring. Slayers recorded the number, type and location of each device drawing vampire energy they encountered. Upon finding devices, Slayers engaged the occupant of the space in conversation around the issue. If the occupant was not present, a “ticket” was placed on the offending device. Targeted devices included computers, chargers and small appliances. The FieldWire App, loaded with building floorplans, was used to record devices using vampire energy. The number of devices per office was calculated to establish Vampire Energy ratings. Ratings ranged from “Excellent” (0 devices) to “Really Bad” (>10 devices). Average annual kWh consumption and costs for the vampire loads were calculated for each semester, then compared to determine effectiveness of the program. Results revealed that there was a 27% decrease in the number of vampire energy devices recorded between the 2 inspections.

The project was submitted to AASHE for the 2019 conference. It was accepted as a poster presentation, and the two students who led the program were able to attend and present the work.


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:

In the Spring of '18 a Supply Chain course from the School of Business and an Environmental and Ocean Sciences class in Environmental Issues from the College of Arts and Sciences teamed up to take a look at the sourcing and carbon impacts of our fruit and vegetable purchasing, effects on meal plans, and suggest some new ideas for menus and food selection on campus.


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

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

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

Students in a Procurement and Operation focus in the School of Business worked with our head of Procurement to analyze the computer leasing and replacement program at USD. The end of class research project found that USD could save a substantial amount of money by changing the model and offering more options to faculty. Procurement and ITS are looking into changing the current model.


IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:
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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 Waste?:
Yes

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

In Fall 2019, two courses worked with the Sustainability Office to assist with campus waste issues. Introduction to Supply Chain Management (BSCM 305) and Marketing Research (MKTG 410) students investigated issues on campus surrounding the poor rates of waste diversion noted in 2018-19. The MKTG students conducted end-user surveys and researched best practices at other universities, then presented their findings and recommendations in both an oral presentation and a report to the Office of Sustainability. The Supply Chain groups utilized "systems thinking" to conduct background research, identify root causes, and develop solutions to recycling infrastructure. The results from both courses were presented to the campus Waste Task Force and are being incorporated into the final recommendations to the administration.


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:

Students in Supply Chain in partnership with the head of Procurement, the Office of Sustainability, a building manager responsible for water contracts and the Director of Care for Our Common Home analyzed the contract for bottled water (and coffee in adminstrative buildings) compared to in-line filtered water. The results showed substantial savings, more access to filtered water, and much more sustainable approach to water use. The project is currently being implemented across campus.


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

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

In the past year USD has added a new Director of Care for Our Common Home pathway supporting climate change, sustainability and social justice courses and projects across campus. The main goal for this position is to collate, coordinate, and communicate all the activities on campus that support USD's care for the planet. In addition to academic and campus as a living lab coordination, the director also reviews strategic proposals connected to sustainability and is co-leading our efforts to find sollutions for humanities urgent challenges.


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:
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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.