Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.22
Liaison Jay Price
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Daniel Covington
Data Analyst and Office Administrator
Facilities Services
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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?:
No

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

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

The Knoxville Homeless Management Information Service (KnoxHMIS) is a community outreach research partner fostered by collaboration between the University of Tennessee’s Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (UT SWORPS) and the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.
As part of the University’s land grant mission, KnoxHMIS works closely with community partners to foster greater understanding of the social consequences, human impact, and other deleterious effects of homelessness. As the only university-based homeless management information, KnoxHMIS allows for aggregation of client-level data across providers serving the area's homeless.
https://www.sworps.tennessee.edu/index.php/programs/knoxhmis/


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:

AmeriCorps members serving in the UTK Office of Sustainability participate in performing an annual greenhouse gas inventory using the Sustainability Indicator Management and Analysis Platform (SIMAP), hosted by the University of New Hampshire. This inventory is bound by the same boundaries as STARS and is conducted only for UTK and UTIA.

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy strives to continue Senator Baker’s work in the areas of energy and environmental policy. Among the issues addressed are energy consumption and conservation; nuclear energy; renewable energy; air and water pollution; ecosystem services; and climate change. The Center studies the interaction of energy and the environment to develop economically-sound policies that improve the quality of life of the world’s citizens.
The program’s research has been supported by private, state, and federal grants and contracts. These grants and contracts allow for faculty and fellows to engage in interdisciplinary projects that have theoretical, empirical, and practical import for scholars and policymakers on topics as wide-ranging as the extraction of rare earth elements from coal ash to the impact of invasive species like asian carp on the ecosystem and tourism.
Students often work directly with faculty and staff to conduct environmental policy research and engage with community partners, including (but not limited to)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Tennessee Valley Authority
TNSCORE
Tennessee State Energy Policy Council
UT Institute for Secure and Sustainable Environment
Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholar
https://bakercenter.utk.edu/research-energy-and-environment.html

A Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor and Assistant Professor along with a College of Social Work Associate Professor received a seed grant from the Institute for Secure and Sustainable Environment to better understand the indoor human exposome. The indoor exposome is simply the entirety of pollutants people take in while indoors including numerous chemical, physical, and biological contaminants, such as microorganisms and particulates involved that can shed light on health risks and disparities.
https://cee.utk.edu/do-we-breathe-the-same-air/


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:

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.
https://archdesign.utk.edu/study/studios-learning-labs/civic-design-center-nashville/

The Green Office Program engages UT faculty and staff in a fun certification program aimed to help offices contribute to the university’s goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2061 and 50% waste diversion by 2030. The program supports offices in their efforts to Make Orange Green through educational materials, financial resources, and an easy-to-use structure for goal setting and making progress.
https://sustainability.utk.edu/initiatives/green-office/


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:

The Hazen Lab is a diverse group of postdoctoral fellows, research associates, graduate students, undergraduates and visiting professors in microbial ecology and environmental engineering that are led by Dr. Terry C. Hazen. The primary research emphasis of the lab is basic and applied field microbial ecology, especially as it relates to bioremediation, biofuels, enhanced oil recovery, and water quality.
http://hazenlab.utk.edu/index.php

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. CURRENT 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.
https://curent.utk.edu/


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:

FEWSUS stands for “International Research Coordination Network for Creating Transdisciplinary Nodes of Food-Energy-Water to Support Sustainable Urban Systems”. The grant, awarded to faculty and scientists at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supports the development of an International Research Coordination Network, designed to facilitate transdisciplinary, multinational communications and accelerate the development and transfer of multisectoral data, standards, analysis tools, new technologies, and a trained workforce among differently urbanized countries.
https://fewsus.utk.edu/


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:

The Office of Sustainability hires student workers who work at the on-campus community garden, 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. All students are able to attend volunteer events at the Grow Lab, with the goal of educating any interested students about growing organic produce and working with compost.
https://growlab.utk.edu/

UT Center for Professional Education & Lifelong Learning has Smoky Mountain Field School. This includes affordable courses that offer memorable workshops, hikes, and adventures for mountain lovers. These weekend programs are taught by UT professors, naturalists, and other experts at various locations in and around the Park.
https://aceweb.professionaled.utk.edu/wconnect/ace/ShowSchedule.awp?&Mode=GROUP&Group=PERSMO&Title=Smoky+Mountain+Field+School&SubGroup=PER


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:

The University of Tennessee System Administration recommends that all UT departments consider environmental sustainability when making purchases. In an effort to help conserve resources and improve working conditions, UT prefers the purchase or rental of more sustainable options to the greatest extent possible.
https://www.google.com/url?q=https://procurement.tennessee.edu/sustainability/&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1677611250199783&usg=AOvVaw0BImioRW7n_IJbOVPz5Id0

The Student Environmental Initiatives Committee (SEIC), also known as the Green Fee Committee, is charged with identifying, researching, and recommending uses of funds that support environmental stewardship and sustainability on campus. At meetings, members will discuss proposals and decide where funding is directed. Because this money is funded through students, we put an emphasis on student opinion and have a majority of students as voting members.
The University ‘s Green Fee, officially known as the Student Environmental Initiatives fee, was established in 2005 to provide funding for campus sustainability and clean energy projects. It is administered by the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee (SEIC), a representative body of students, faculty, and staff. This funding is used for sustainable purchasing, among other things. Past green fee projects that required purchasing include:
Hand Dryer Installations throughout campus: feasibility study completed in 2016, the results of the study showed both a cost savings and workflow efficiency improvement opportunities for Building Services, with greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions resulting from reduced transportation of paper towels to campus and then to individual buildings.
The Green Fee has allocated $40k each year to the installation of new water bottle refill stations to replace the need for single-use plastic on campus.
https://www.google.com/url?q=https://sustainability.utk.edu/2020/12/09/green-fee/&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1677611128982453&usg=AOvVaw0r-bVBzKtN2dWgdhxEv6U7


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:

East Tennessee Clean Fuels’ (ETCleanFuels) mission is to increase the use of cleaner American fuels and vehicles and energy-saving transportation technologies to improve air quality and health, curb dependence on imported petroleum and support Tennessee’s economy.
https://isse.utk.edu/isse-research/clean-energy/

The UTK Office of Sustainability hosts an AmeriCorps member with the role of “Alternative Energy and Transportation Coordinator”. Their duties include finding ways to reduce carbon emissions from campus transportation, (the second largest contributor to GHG emissions at UTK) as well as researching best practices at other institutions regarding alternative energy and transportation and finding ways to incorporate those activities at UTK.


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:

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. They may also request to make their own event Zero-Waste with the assistance of the Office of Sustainability. We have recently expanded zero-waste gamedays to the softball season, bringing both recycling and composting to every softball game, and only offering compostable materials for dining options.
https://sustainability.utk.edu/take-action/make-your-event-zero-waste/


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 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.
https://tnwrrc.tennessee.edu/


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:

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has adopted a general permit to aid in erosion prevention and sediment control at construction sites. TDEC partners with the University of Tennessee to establish the Tennessee Stormwater Management Training program.
This course, designed to meet the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 69-3-105, includes establishing standard procedures for making stream and wet weather conveyance determinations that take into consideration biology, geology, geomorphology, precipitation, hydrology, and other scientifically based principles and a certification program for TDEC staff and other persons who wish to become certified hydrologic professionals.
https://isse.utk.edu/training-education/


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:

FUTURE is a comprehensive program that helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make a successful transition from high school to adult life. UTK Office of Sustainability employs FUTURE students throughout its operations, including at the Compost Facility, Recycling Warehouse, Free Store, and Grow Lab.
https://futureut.utk.edu/


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

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

The Green Revolving Fund, originally enacted in 2013 with an initial investment of $100,000, is used to finance projects that reduce UT’s energy use. These funds are used for retrofitting and energy-saving projects in campus buildings. After the return on investment (ROI) is met, the additional savings over a five-year period are placed back into the Revolving Fund for future project funding.
Students are appointed to the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee, which votes on each proposal for use of the Green Revolving Fund. In this way, students are directly involved with sustainable investment on campus.
https://sustainability.utk.edu/impact/energy/


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

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

Facilities Services, in which the Office of Sustainability is housed, conducts training for all employees, including student workers. These training opportunities work to provide employees with flexible opportunities for personal and professional growth through education, training, and workplace experience.
https://ehs.utk.edu/index.php/training/


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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.