Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 56.23
Liaison Jim Walker
Submission Date June 14, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Texas at Austin
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.60 / 4.00 Jim Walker
Director of Sustainability, Financial, and Administrative Services
University Operations
"---" 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?:
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 Air & Climate:
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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:

Machine Learning for Building Data Analysis

A research project lead by Zoltan Nagy, the purpose of the project is to analyze energy consumption data from buildings on campus and identify patterns in consumption. Research project team members must access data through a database, analyze it, and apply different algorithms for clustering the data. This project began in July of 2017.

https://eureka.utexas.edu/project/machine-learning-building-data-analysis


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:

Sensor Network for Energy Efficiency on Campus

Campus members are developing and deploying a sensor network in buildings on campus to help save energy used for lighting. The sensor network monitors lighting conditions as well as presence, and adjusts the light accordingly. Research project duties for student participants include assembly of sensor nodes, testing the sensor network, and maintaining the sensor network. This project commenced in the summer of 2017.

https://eureka.utexas.edu/project/sensor-network-energy-efficiency-campus


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:

UT Austin’s Division of Housing and Food Service (DHFS) uses its campus gardens, built and operated by the division, as living laboratory at multiple levels. The gardens were designed, first and foremost, as a teaching platform for campus – the goal of which is to give students the opportunity to reconnect with where their food comes from and have the ability to see the details of that process from start to finish. Additionally, the gardens serve not only as a visual learning center, but also as an experiential education site for a select group of Green Corp students chosen to manage the gardens year around. Further, DHFS is always open to class tours, presentations, and sharing its practices with the campus community.


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

As part of a Safe Cycling Campaign, students created a comprehensive and cross-disciplinary effort to improve bicycling as a viable means of transit on the UT Campus. The project worked to address the issues related to cycling and transportation infrastructure not only through analysis and improvements to the urban form, but also though safety education and public awareness, as well as service and advocacy projects. A lasting component of the program is the “How to Double Lock Your Bike” instructional video, used to educate the UT community on safe bike practices.


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:

Pilot Program to Recycle Styrofoam Boxes and Blocks at UT

Students working on this project must keep track of the cubic feet of material that is kept out of the landfill to track success of the project and understand the waste stream of this material. Students help at drop off points and at the recycling drop-off points. Additionally, students create and distribute PR materials to inform campus members of the project in target buildings.

https://eureka.utexas.edu/project/pilot-program-recycle-styrofoam-boxes-and-blocks-ut


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:

Waller Creek Research Group and Archive

The Waller Creek Research Group gathers historical and current information on Waller Creek. We provide a historic perspective on Waller Creek by developing a readily accessible archive of drainage-wide information on the Waller Creek watershed. Through our field research, we work with multiple stakeholders to better understand basic processes affecting urban creek ecosystems. Through our interdisciplinary work, we hope to improve the sustainability of this vital asset to the city of Austin. This project, funded by the UT Green Fees Program (as "Waller Creek Biodiversity & Sustainability: working group and archive"), is developing a digital and publicly available archive of all research and information relevant to the Waller Creek watershed, focusing primarily on UT campus but extending throughout the drainage.

https://sites.cns.utexas.edu/waller_creek_working_group/home

Data Mining for Water-Energy Demand Profiles

A research team is analyzing water and energy consumption data from buildings on campus, attempting to identify patterns in consumption. Students on the team will access and analyze data and apply different algorithms for identifying demand profiles and categorizing users. Students on the research team need background in machine learning and programming skills. This is an ongoing project that still needs campus members to join the team.

https://eureka.utexas.edu/project/data-mining-water-energy-demand-profiles


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
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 Coordination & Planning:
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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 Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE), as one of the four strategic priorities for the campus, is tasked with leveraging UT’s intellectual resources to cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships that address significant issues in Texas communities. The DDCE contributes to a synergy among community engagement initiatives that extend from the academic colleges, schools, and administrative units to community-university initiatives that promote equity, access, and social justice

UT’s Community Engagement Center, located in a traditionally underserved area of Austin, is the home base for many of DDCE’s partnerships with communities historically underserved by UT, including the Community Engagement Incubator Project, which addresses inequality in the Austin area by fostering and sustaining direct collaborative research and pedagogy efforts between UT faculty, students, and community organizations. Successful incubation projects include the African American Men and Boys Harvest Foundation, which provides culturally relevant services to its population; FreeMinds, a writing program in underserved communities; and Foodways Texas, which promotes the diverse food cultures of Texas. The Regional Foundation Library provides local nonprofit organizations with access to training and information on foundation funding. The Colony Park Sustainable Community Initiative (CPSCI) is a unique partnership of the City of Austin, UT, and the Colony Park neighborhood. Funded through a $3 million HUD grant, CPSCI is tasked with the development of a master plan for 208 acres of publicly-owned land. In like manner, the Restore Rundberg initiative promotes community development and revitalization in the Rundberg neighborhood of Austin by engaging research from faculty and students in the School of Social Work and community engagement assistance from the DDCE.


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?:
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 Public Engagement:
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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:

Having a premier wellness program offers students the opportunity to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom to real life experience. The wellness program relies on student interns to accomplish the strategic plan. The wellness program expands on many of the degree tracks offered at the university, including kinesiology and health education, social work, public health, nutritional science, nursing, pharmacology, business and communications. Upon completing an internship with the wellness program, students are better prepared to enter the workforce or continue on to graduate school. Students gain first-hand experience planning, implementing and evaluating population-based health programs. Students have enhanced the wellness program by developing communication materials, giving presentations, monitoring health stations, managing the onsite farm-to-work CSA program, supporting healthy vending machines and much more. By providing a unique internship with a premier employee wellness program, what starts here really can change the world.


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:

Liquid Sense is a well-being and social sustainability related study on preventing negative alcohol-related events that can occur during the first-year of college. The study involves completion of modules designed to educate about alcohol and drug use. Students who help facilitate the study on campus will help with three assessments over the course of seven months.

https://eureka.utexas.edu/project/liquid-sense


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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UT Austin's Texas CityLab is a program in development at the university that is designed to engage students in team-based, real-world sustainability challenges. The first year of the program will engage students in UT Austin sustainability-challenges. Texas CityLab provides administrative structure and support for living-laboratory projects and will eventually partner with municipalities in Texas.

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.