Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.21
Liaison Gary Cocke
Submission Date Sept. 11, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Gary Cocke
Associate Director for Sustainability and Energy Conservation
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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:

Air North Texas/ No Vehicle Idling & Air Quality Research:
With leadership from the Office of Sustainability, UT Dallas has become a partner with Air North Texas . This is a regional public awareness campaign and partnership that seeks to improve air quality in North Texas. The campaign was formed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). UT Dallas is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and has adopted no idling guideline through the Sustainability Committee to improve on campus air quality. Dr. David Lary and students that work in his applied physics lab have developed air quality sensors that utilize machine learning to calibrate low-cost sensors to collect high precision data without requiring prohibitive investment in expensive sensors. The sensors are deployed on campus and in the DFW metroplex to monitor air quality and assist in research.


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:

Building Blitz:

The Building Blitz Program engaged students to help to assess building sustainability while providing them on green building principles and LEED criteria. Students, under the mentorship of Associate Director for Sustainability and Energy Conservation, assessed building utility usage, evaluated building management, evaluated customer service, audited waste receptacles, and assessed work space cleanliness.


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:

Classroom Lighting Management System:
A research project designed to install multiple sensors at different appropriate locations in classroom buildings. Proposed and Researched by a Masters of Engineering student, the proposed idea would be designed to solve the problem of limited visibility of occupancy-based lighting management systems (sensors) on campus. This research has been developed under the supervision of faculty in a lab setting and is currently being piloted in a meeting room on 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:

Student Marketing Club and Food Waste:

The UTD Marketing Club partnered with the Office of Sustainabilty and Dining Services to create educational signage placed in the dining hall to educate students about food waste and how to participate in the composting program.

Studying wait time effect on food waste:

Dr. Dorothee Honhon Associate Professor of Operations Management with the School of Management is beginning a study to determine how wait time for food service may impact food waste, testing the hypothesis that longer wait times will cause students to over-serve in order to avoid another wait in line, thus increasing food waste. This project builds on many other projects related to food waste and will begin in Spring 2019

Community Garden and Blanca Botello Garden:

Campus Gardens are utilized to teach students how to sustainably raise fruits and vegetables.

Meatless Mondays
In Fall 2018, The University of Texas at Dallas became the first public university in Texas to join Meatless Monday, an international campaign promoting health and sustainability throughout college campuses around the world. A partnership between Student Government and Dining Services, this project aims to bring awareness about healthy living not just for students, but also the environment. With meat production contributing significantly to the environmental challenges our world faces today, we hope Meatless Monday will encourage students to reduce meat consumption on at least one day out of the week. From "Teaching Kitchens" (cooking demonstrations headed by UTD's Executive Chef) to an online pledge system, Student Government and Dining Services strive to keep health and sustainability in the minds of the student population.


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:

Bio Blitz:
In Spring 2019, UT Dallas hosted its first bioblitz at its 10-acre monarch waystation in order to assess biodiversity at the area and to help with the DFW metroplex effort in the City Nature Challenge. Citizen scientists assisted with biodiversity assessment in this STARS report and contributed to the #8 global (#3 U.S.) ranking in the City Nature Challenge which advances scientific research globally.

Organic Land Care Study:
Eco Reps in the Office of Sustainability are conducting a long-term study monitoring the effect of different organic and synthetic fertilizers on soil quality and turf quality. The study is being conducted with full participation from Facilities Management, Grounds, and Office of Sustainability in order to inform regarding the feasibility of wide-scale adoption of organic land care practices.

Bee Campus USA:
UTD utilizes 2 apiaries on campus for classroom teaching, student and faculty research, and for outreach programs.Led by a Bee Campus USA Committee, students/staff/faculty intended to coordinate and lend aid to individual conservation efforts, to evaluate the current state of conservation on campus, and to oversee the progression and improvement of conservation efforts in the areas of habitat, service learning, and outreach by helping to create long term policy and structural changes in the university to support pollinator conservation.

Tree Campus USA/ Living Trees:
UT Dallas has received Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. The program helps colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests. Tree-planting events also take place annually on campus with education provided to students regarding proper tree planting and tree care techiniques. Students also received training to maintain the fruit trees in residence hall courtyards on a weekly basis by trimming, proper water care, checking for diseases as needed.

Ecology for Educators
Students in this graduate class utilized the Monarch Way station with the office of Sustainability to learn sampling techniques and pedagogy for introducing ecological field experiences in the classroom.  On a second occasion, the class visited the creek that bisects campus to take water samples and learn pedagogy for teaching water quality issues in the classroom. 


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:
---

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. David Lary uitlizes local and campus data patterns to analyze their effect on air quality and ultimately on health outcomes. Dr. Lary has developed and deployed sensors that utilize machine learning in order to advance research.

Article - https://www.utdallas.edu/news/2016/3/7-31941_Project-Aims-to-Make-Breathing-Easier-by-Mapping-A_story-wide.html


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:

Student participation in Recyclemania,

Students from Sustainability Club, Student Government, and Eco Reps all help to support UTD's Recyclemania effort by helping to collect data and educate peers to reduce waste and increase recycling. Staff also conducted an internal contamination audit to determine the contamination rate at UTD and identify strategies to reduce contamination where issues presented.

Sustainable Labs
The Sustainable Labs program is a pilot program developed by an Eco Rep in the Office of sustainability targeting teaching labs in order to help reduce the environmental impact of laboratories at UT Dallas. The project educates on sustainable practices in the lab setting, but as a student project, the development of the sustainable labs program was utilized to teach participating eco reps about communicating sustainabiltiy and sustainable project leadership.


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:

Reflection Pool Water Loss Research:

A student recorded the amount of water that was being pumped into UT Dallas' reflection pools over 5 years. This data was compared to the annual rates, in inches, of water that was lost or gained through evaporation and rainfall. The student was looking to see if UT Dallas could take advantage of these natural cycles and reduce the amount of water needed to pump in to the pools. The best solution available was having the grounds keeper keep an eye on the weather, and not fill the pools if rain was eminent.

Student Government
Rainwater capture at Blanca Botello Garden - Green initiative received a proposal that sought to install a rainwater capture system on campus. Facilities management agreed to install a catchment that provides water for the Blanca Botello Garden.


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:

Student Surveys for Green Fee:

The Student Government participated int he Sustainability Literacy and Culture Survey in fupport of their separate surveys to establish a green fee at UT Dallas. The data collected through the surveys has provided data in support a green fee and informed of a proposal to university leadership to establish a green fee.

STARS Reporting:

STARS Reporting itself has included student participation an served as a mechanism to teach students about campus sustainability. Eco Reps in the Office of Sustainability have helped with data collection and organization and led many projects to directly contribute to the report.


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:

A committee of faculty and staff led the campus climate survey to assess equity on campus and find strategies for improvement.

Climate surevey at https://www.utdallas.edu/diversity/partners/SupportCommittee.html


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:
---

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:

Community Engaged Learning and UN RCE:

The courses below have worked through the North Texas RCE to solicit real world sustainability issues that students will work in a classroom setting to address.

UNIV 3310 – Sustainability Leadership and Global Impact
o Instructor – Gary Cocke
o Course Description - Students will gain a contextual understanding of sustainability through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) which will serve as the foundation for students to work collaboratively to create a solution that will be taken to the North Texas Regional Centre for Expertise for Education on Sustainable Development in order to address real world sustainability issues. Students will learn aspects of project leadership necessary to advance sustainability including; project justification, implementation plan, budget development, stakeholder mapping, consensus building, and developing key performance indicators. Students will deliver a written proposal and a presentation to the RCE member with whom they work.
• PA 6399 – Master of Public Administration Capstone Course
o Instructor – Dr. John McCaskill
o Description of Projects - The Capstone course uses the project as the defining requirement. The students will spend 12-16 weeks working on a substantive project for presentation and submission to a local organization. In the past, students have provided program evaluations for nonprofits, social media plans for nonprofits, cost recovery analyses for city departments, a redesign of the building and permitting department of a local city, and several others. Those are the size and scope that a group of 8-12 students will take on. They produce a 25-50 page report and 20 minute presentation.
• PA 3382 and SOC 3382 – Sustainable Communities
o Instructor – Dr. John McCaskill
o Description of Projects - The projects in those classes count for roughly 30% of the grade and are considerably reduced in scope. We are looking for projects that emphasize the interconnectedness of systems - both natural and man-made - and the impacts our actions can have on the health of those systems. These would hopefully be a series of smaller project that groups of 3-6 students can work on for 3 to 4 weeks. The undergrad projects produce a 10 page report and the grad student projects a 20 page report. Both will produce presentations.


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:

Center for Students in Recovery & Community Garden

Students with the Center for Students in Recovery (CSR) have adopted stewardship of the pollinator garden adjacent to the UTD Community Garden. The stewardship for the garden is utilized in order aid students in recovery while providing service to the university and the community garden. Student programming through the Center for Students in Recovery requires weekly stewardship; including watering, weeding, labeling plants, mulching, and planting. The CSR students are also helping with the pilot project to label pollinator plants with branded, educational material in support of UTD's Bee Campus USA certificaton.


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:

Sustainability/Recycling Art

A UT Dallas Master's student created a sustainability-themed art project during the Oddities Exhibit at the SPN Art Gallery. The exhibition was intended to
raise awareness of sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability and Art UTD student org:

The Office of Sustainability has partnered with the Art UTD student organization on 2 occasions to have sustainability-themed art installed on campus. 2 murals were placed on the walls of the shed at the community garden and students also installed murals on 3 walls of the water catchment at the Blanca Botello Garden. Both installations are meant to build a culture for sustainabilty on campus while providing student artists high-visibility art installations on campus.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
---

Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

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.