Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.54
Liaison Jim Walker
Submission Date March 2, 2020

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jim Walker
Director of Sustainability, Financial, and Administrative Services
University Operations
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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:

Graduate students in Marketing and Communications assisted University Housing and Dining staff to develop marketing strategies to reduce food waste. The students conducted surveys and tested the efficacy of student designed outreach efforts. The study results informed University Housting and Dining food waste reduction outreach efforts.


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:

UT’s Project LEAD (https://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/emergency/utoutpost.php) program is a yearlong project management and leadership development program where students have the opportunity to utilize their newly acquired skills to manage real projects for the community. A Project LEAD team of students is working with the City of Austin and UT Office of Sustainability to develop and implement a more effective outreach program for the MoveOutATX initiative (https://www.moveoutatx.org/). MoveOutATX is a collaboration between the city, UT Office of Sustainability, area property managers, and local reuse organizations. The initiative seeks to redirect unwanted clothing and furniture during off-campus student move-out towards reuse rather than landfill. The Project LEAD team of students is working to expand MoveOutATX outreach to property managers, develop new ways to promote the opportunity to student renters, and create a marketing/promotion standard operating manual.


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:

Dr. Atila Novoselac and his graduate students in Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, are attempting to identify laboratories and classrooms that are under- or over-ventilated so that areas of improvement for existing ventilation control systems can be pinpointed. In addition, they are partnering with University Health Services to track incidents of student illness to see if there is a correlation with ventilation data. The results can inform UT’s Energy Stewards when considering ventilation retrofits or technology for new campus classrooms or lab and hopefully save energy and improve the indoor environment for students and staff.


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 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. Data is shared with UT Energy Stewards to inform operational decision making


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 Intelligent Environments Laboratory is releasing the first version of the UT Energy App. This app is intended to provide a way to collect information on climate/temperature and consequent comfort levels for students in UT classrooms and other campus buildings. This data will be used directly by the UT Energy Department to provide students with a better classroom experience and cut costs on climate control. https://nagy.caee.utexas.edu/energy-app/ To reduce HVAC energy inefficiencies, fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) has become a growing field of interest. In particular, air handling units (AHU), devices that circulate air and regulate room temperature and humidity, are the primary focus of most HVAC FDD systems. A data-driven FDD for AHUs on a university campus would fill a role in the reduction HVAC energy consumption, which remains one of the main drivers in total building energy use and consequently impacts the total global CO2 emissions. Fault detection and diagnostics for HVAC systems can potentially reduce 10-40% of total building energy consumption. https://nagy.caee.utexas.edu/fault-detection-and-diagnostics-of-air-handling-units-using-machine-learning-and-expert-rule-sets/


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:

For more than a decade, University Housing and Dining student interns been researching plate waste on campus. Data collected in spring 2008 measured an average of 5.7 oz of leftovers per person. After implementing a number of strategies to reduce plate waste, including the elimination of trays, waste was measured six months later as an average 3.9 oz per person. https://sustainability.utexas.edu/news/reducing-food-scraps 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 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:

A student driven project utilizes drone pecial imaging technology to sense plant health on the largest irrigated lawn on the UT campus. UT Landscape Services is in the process of gathering data about the lawn surrounding the LBJ Library, which uses 20 percent of the irrigation water on campus. The goal is to determine the minimum amount of water they can use to irrigate the campus landscape without damaging the plants. https://www.dailytexanonline.com/2018/10/30/drone-created-by-ut-austin-student-aids-campus-water-conservation


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:

Graduate students in the Urban Information Lab conducted a four phase research project on the current state of the UT shuttle system. Study results were provided to UT Parking and Transportation staff to assist in operational decision making.


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:

UT Resource Recovery student interns conduct waste audits on select campus buildings and report their finding to building occupants. Data is used to create targeted zero waste educational materials and outreach. https://sustainability.utexas.edu/news/waste-audit


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:

A student-driven project utilizes drone pecial imaging technology to sense plant health on the largest irrigated lawn on the UT campus. UT Landscape Services is in the process of gathering data about the lawn surrounding the LBJ Library, which uses 20 percent of the irrigation water on campus. The goal is to determine the minimum amount of water they can use to irrigate the campus landscape without damaging the plants. https://www.dailytexanonline.com/2018/10/30/drone-created-by-ut-austin-student-aids-campus-water-conservation Students and faculty in the Waller Creek Research Group gather 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 Fund 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.


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:

Graduate students gathered and analyzed campus data in preparation for UT Austin's STARS submission


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:

Students associated with Project LEAD, a yearlong project management and leadership development program, are working with the campus food pantry (UT Outpost https://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/emergency/utoutpost.php) to develop outreach materials. The goal of the initiative is to provide resources to help students better utilize the food pantry and make healthy choices. https://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/leadership/projectlead.php


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?:
Yes

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

Dr. Atila Novoselac and his graduate students in Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, are attempting to identify laboratories and classrooms that are under- or over-ventilated so that areas of improvement for existing ventilation control systems can be pinpointed. In addition, they are partnering with University Health Services to track incidents of student illness to see if there is a correlation with ventilation data. The results can inform UT’s Energy Stewards when considering ventilation retrofits or technology for new campus classrooms or lab and hopefully save energy and improve the indoor environment for students and staff. 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.


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.