Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.98
Liaison Jay Price
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jay Price
Sustainability Manager
Facilities Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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:

Student interns with the Office of Sustainability assist each year with the university's greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

There are multiple research projects conducted on University of Tennessee's campus. One student used UTK as a living laboratory by researching Knoxville sustainability transportation alternatives through PACE bike share. PACE bike share allows student, faculty and other individuals on campus to travel and allowing the accessibility to use an app to find, select and unlock bikes. This reduces the need for transportation alternatives that utilize GHG emissions.


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:

UT Design Services, housed in Facilities Services, offers student internships each semester that provide both undergraduate and graduate students with meaningful, real-world experience in their fields. These students learn about the State of Tennessee Sustainable Design Guidelines and the State of Tennessee High Performance Building Requirements, and they use this knowledge to work on various architectural, interior design, and engineering tasks for Facilities Services departments. The students also contribute to the Long Range Master Plan updates.

The Institute for Smart Structures is a research center where academia and industry meet. It offers research and development for building sector and combines the areas of material science, engineering, and architecture to solve immediate problems as well as provide revolutionary concepts for new applications. Two recent projects, the UT Sero prototype and the Living Light Solar Decathlon House, engaged researchers, engineers, architects, and others from the university to develop and design.

The Nashville Civic Design Center is an independent nonprofit organization that partners with UT to improve the life of Nashvillians through visionary thinking and partnership. All undergraduate architecture students are required to spend one off-campus semester at the NCDC. Faculty and students have published two books and many research reports. The center works with government officials, regional planning groups, neighborhood organizations, businesses and residents.


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:

The Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT) was established to meet the needs of a highly capable power systems workforce. CURENT performs research that will confront the electrical problems of energy generation, with a focus on transmission, storage, monitoring, power consumption, and management of a modernized grid.


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 collaborate with the Food Recovery Network to collect unused foodstuffs from UTK home football games for donation to local food pantries. https://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/tennessee/#CTK

Interns with the Office of Sustainability also conduct research projects on food waste in the dining halls and piloting a reusable to-go container program.


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:

"Commodities for Communities" is a unique program initiated by Tennessee farmers and allows them to make a direct transfer of an agricultural commodity, such as grain, corn, or soybeans, to the UT Foundation. The foundation sells these commodities and invests the proceeds back into a community-based UT program of the grower's choice. Community partners for Commodities for Communities include local producers and farm operators.

The Office of Sustainability hires an intern who works in the UT Gardens Kitchen Garden, as well as the on-campus community garden called the Grow Lab. Students learn how to grow organic produce and multiple classes and student groups manage garden plots at the Grow Lab for research and recreation.


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:

One student within Melissa Hinten's GEOG 496 class undertook a semester-long research project of creating assessments of zero waste initiatives through UTK student grocery purchases. Another student evaluated cost-benefit analysis of UTK compost facilities. GEOG 496 is designed as a sustainability capstone course and allows students to construct a research project and apply their knowledge to areas of interest on campus.

An Office of Sustainability intern is conducting carbon cost accounting for a variety of dining hall meals to determine the carbon footprint of various ingredients purchased by campus dining.


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:

Dr. Chris Cherry and his student research assistant conduct research on micro-mobility, including how electric scooters are being used on UT's campus and around Knoxville.

Dr. Chris Cherry's service learning course created an "Open Streets" project to promote alternative sustainable transportation via bicycle.

http://tntoday.utk.edu/2017/08/15/cherrys-bicycle-safety-video-worldwide-hit/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Chris%20Cherry%20bicycle%20crash%20study&utm_campaign=tntoday


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:

Students interns in the Office of Sustainability work on waste minimization through projects on composting techniques, data collection, efficiency and planning, and education and outreach. Student interns work daily in the collection of recycling and compost as well, learning about the day-to-day needs of large recycling and compost pick-up coordination while helping the university to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill.

Students may participate in Zero-Waste Game days, which focus on waste diversion during home football games. This program is put on by the Office of Recycling.


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:

UT Professors Jon Hathaway and Kelsey Ellis received Green Fee funding for the "Sensing for Sensability: Opportunities for Environmental Education, Research, and Stewardship through Sensing Campus Environmental Data" project. The project proposal explains that "For many in the campus community, little is known about the interactions between the campus environment and weather / climate. Improved data collection in these areas will allow students, faculty, and staff to better understand the microenvironment that is UT, how human activities impact local surface waters and atmosphere, how their local environment changes over time, and how Second Creek responds to changes in weather. These data are highly valuable to the UT community, providing opportunities for education and research by utilizing the stream as a living laboratory. This is valuable to facilitate active learning across numerous departments throughout the university. Gaining a better understanding of what natural resources exist around UT, students will be challenged to discover more about the environment, how their actions affect the local environment, and what actions (such as stream clean-ups) can be taken to improve these valuable resources." Dr. Hathaway, along with his graduate and undergraduate students, completed the probe installation and construction of a secure enclosure for the device. Dr. Ellis and her graduate and undergraduate students oversaw the weather station installation. Since then, water quality, flow, and weather data continue to be analyzed, especially around storm events, in order to observe how the local climate changes conditions in the stream.

Dr. Brad Collett taught a class the did a project that was presented at the 6th Annual Watershed Symposium. Four students in the School of Landscape Architecture earned a top national award from the American Society of Landscape Architects for their publication, HydroLIT, Southeast Tennessee Water Quality Playbook. HydroLIT (short for hydrologic literacy) is a 213-page manual that proposes innovative strategies for improved water quality in the southeast Tennessee region. It highlights the relationship between the quality of regional water resources—streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and groundwater—and urban, suburban and rural systems and proposes innovative water quality improvement strategies to inform future planning in the region.

The Tennessee Water and Resource Research Center is housed within UT's Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment and seeks to improve regional water quality through community-based projects, outreach, education, and empowerment activities.


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:

A student intern in the Stormwater Management Office is working on updating and maintaining the Stormwater Best Management Practices manual for UT which outlines sustainable practices as policy for UT stormwater projects. The student intern is also assisting in updating the 2013 Stormwater Master Plan as well as developing a stormwater education training program for new Facilities Services employees.

Student and faculty members of the Committee on the Campus Environment have acted as an advisory committee for the zero waste planning process throughout 2019 that resulted in an official zero waste commitment made by the university in January 2020.


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:

The Knoxville Homeless Management Information System Program serves as an empirical window into homelessness in the Knox County Community. The only university-based homeless management information, Knox allows for aggregation of client-level data across providers serving the area's homeless.


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

The Knoxville Homeless Management Information System Program serves as an empirical window into homelessness in the Knox County Community. The only university-based homeless management information, Knox allows for aggregation of client-level data across providers serving the area's homeless.

Office of Sustainability interns are conducting surveys on the usage of UT's public recycling drop-off to determine ways to increase public engagement.


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:

"Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports" is a program designed to empower women and girls from developing nations using sport, leadership, and action-planning that is developed, implemented, and evaluated by the University of Tennessee's Center for Sport, Peave, and Society. UT 's College of Nursing also hosts Health Fairs throughout the years, with themes and locations that shift to reflect community needs.


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)?:
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 other areas:

Plan East Tennessee (PlanET) addresses challenges regarding jobs, housing, transportation, a clean environment, and community health. UT's role is to assist in development of research, critical inquiry, planning and design that accommodate an anticipated population growth rate of 45 percent through 2040.

An undergraduate student conducted a research project on the UT Zero Waste Game Day program. She collected information while volunteering during a game day and also interviewed the program coordinators. She researched other universities strategies for game day waste diversion programs and created a presentation of possible ideas that UT could adopt.


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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