Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.87
Liaison Elias Platte-Bermeo
Submission Date July 29, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Southern California
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Elias Platte-Bermeo
Sustainability Program Assistant
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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:

Students in a Political Science class taught by Professor Jefferey Sellers used their final assignment to envision projects to make USC more sustainable in areas like energy, waste, water, transportation, and more. Students pulled publicly available data and conducted analysis on costs, associated savings (energy, water, etc.), and pitched their proposals. In the process, they contributed to campus sustainability engagement and raised awareness of issues facing USC. The Office of Sustainability judged project proposals based on innovation, feasibility, and value brought to USC Sustainability.


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 USC Public Exchange Urban Trees Initiative partners USC faculty and students researchers with the City of Los Angeles Chief Forest Officer and L.A. NGOs and community groups to guide the growth of an urban forest of shade trees that benefit the health and quality of life for local communities.

The initiative focuses on a 5-square-mile area in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of El Sereno, Ramona Gardens, and Lincoln Heights, which encompasses USC’s Health Sciences Campus. Using advanced mapping technology, air quality measurements and landscape architecture expertise, the project explores where, how many, and what type of new trees could be added to this area to optimize the benefits of urban forests for local residents. It also presents a vision for climate justice via meaningful engagement with the people who live in the area; as such, public engagement around issues such as the value/benefits of urban trees, and costs/labor for their care and maintenance is critical to the success of the project. The student researchers participated fully in public outreach efforts by conducting in-person neighborhood tree mapping, as well as prepping materials for and participating in community meetings.

More information: https://publicexchange.usc.edu/urban-trees-initiative/


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:

As part of a a USC Dornsife Environmental Studies class (ENST 492), USC Wrigley Institute staff mentored students in grant writing to successfully buy indoor carbon dioxide sensors to be used for data collection across USC and JEP-affiliated schools.


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:

A Landscape Architecture class (ARCH 535, Prof: Alex Robinson) used the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island for a studio project focused on designing new outdoor classrooms for the center.

In 2017, the USC Wrigley Sustainability Prize selected the student project "Interphase" as first prize winner. Interphase focuses on adapting industrial piping to be both non-toxic and energy efficient. The project provided an applied learning opportunity for the students to further their research on how Interphase works, as well as gain business training and networking opportunities in how to turn their concept into a business.

More information: https://dornsife.usc.edu/wrigley/research-studentledgreenindustryresearch/


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:

Students collaborated with Wrigley Marine Science Center staff and USC Chemistry Department (Professor Travis Williams) to make biodiesel from campus cooking oil, and test catalysts under research for purifying the materials. This began as a Spring 2018 independent project by an undergraduate student in the Viterbi School of Engineering. It then expanded to include Chemistry department faculty and graduate student research for summer 2018.


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:

A Dornsife Environmental Studies Senior Seminar class (ENST 495) Senior Seminar class conducted sustainability projects with instructors from the Wrigley Institute:
1) Students developed a proposal for the USC Parkside Garden Sustainability Plan; 2) Students focused on a proposal to reduce food waste being sent to landfills from USC's University Park Campus.

Several Dornsife Environmental Studies (ENST 490) independent student projects quantified food waste at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. This involved measuring back-of-house and front-of-house food waste, with signage to encourage taking less food/reducing waste; testing viability of EcoVim dehydrated food for Black Soldier Fly larvae and quantifying growth rates; testing transfer of E. coli during dehydration and digestion by Black Soldier Fly larvae.

Students in a Dornsife Environmental Studies summer class (ENST 320a) tracked the nitrification processes in Wrigley Marine Science Center aquaponics system by sampling nutrient concentrations, oxygen levels, and chlorophyll over the course of a week. Students learned how to take samples and measure the above factors, and learned about the role of nitrification in aquaponics systems. In the ENST 490/492 classes, students characterize microbial communities and nutrient dynamics in the aquaponics system at the Wrigley Marine Science Center, which is used to grow food for the kitchen and for staff/community.


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 Spring 2021, a group of undergraduate engineering students in the Viterbi Fellows program, working under the guidance of Professor George Ban-Weiss, partnered with USC Facilities Planning & Management, USC's campus arborist, and the Office of Sustainability to analyze USC’s tree inventory and create a data dashboard to visualize the environmental impact on campus.

An undergraduate student in the Spatial Sciences department partnered with Facilities Planning & Management and Office of Sustainability to deliver an interactive campus map that visually communicates campus sustainability-related information (SSCI 587).

An Architecture class established a project in which students designed a proposed outdoor classroom for the Wrigley Campus on Catalina Island (ARCH 535).


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
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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 HISTORY 250/ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES 250 made a survey for faculty and students on air travel habits. Faculty were asked what the expectations are for attending conferences in their field (and if they would reduce air travel now that online/hybrid conferences are more common). Students were asked if they would consider not traveling for certain holidays if more campus activities were offered. The data was used to estimate the carbon footprint of faculty/student travel in these different scenarios.


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, USC Auxiliary Services partnered with three ENST 320a professors and their curriculum of three classes to include post-consumer food waste analysis from dining halls of specific categories of food waste and their impacts on soil and water.
More information: https://web-app.usc.edu/soc/syllabus/20203/33019.pdf

Two USC Keck School of Medicine students authored an article about medical waste and its negative impacts upon the environment.


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:

The Wrigley Marine Science Center served as a case-study for semester-long projects with a Viterbi advanced writing course (WRIT 340, Professor Marc Aubertin). Students conducted research on water at the Wrigley Marine Science Center and used campus data about water and campus activities/population to study the Center's challenges and propose engineering solutions.

Students in Environmental Studies courses examine the trace element and microbiological content of rain water runoff from UPC campus buildings. This pilot program tested 6 buildings, and used the roof area of USC's University Park Campus to estimate the total trace metal flux from them to the ground/soil.


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 April 2021, as part of her PhD thesis, a student and Professor Gale Sinatra in the Rossier School of Education developed and distributed a survey to study how USC undergraduate students define sustainability in conjunction with what values they find important. The survey findings will be used to inform USC’s sustainability education initiatives.

Several undergraduate and graduate students gathered and analyzed data for this STARS submission and were instrumental in completing the Academics, Engagement, and Planning & Administration sections of this report. The report they helped put together will be used to advance USC sustainability coordination and planning for years to come.


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.