Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 45.22
Liaison Mei May
Submission Date Nov. 27, 2019

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.40 / 4.00 Mei L May
Director Office of Sustainability
Sustainability
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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:

The UTSA Civil and Environmental Engineering department works closely with the campus infrastructure. A solar array is deployed on 3 campus buildings, funded by CPS Energy. The energy is testings beta inverters that feed power back into our university owned building energy grid. This includes research in solar energy systems, storage, smart grid fidelity, and other technologies associated with sustainability. The Environmental Science and Ecology Department received three grants to research water quality and conservation. 1. They are currently in construction of a low impact development bioswale and cistern system to treat 9.5 acres of previously untreated stormwater from impervious structures. the bioswale, cisterns, grassy swale, and rain garden will be used as an outdoor laboratory to show students the engineered and low impact treatment of stormwater and teach sustainability in water conservation and water quality through semester projects and graduate student research. The project has already realized one graduate research study completed in Fall 2019. The project includes water quality sampling and analysis pre-construction to determine the effects of the treatment train. The development will be online in September of 2020 for post construction sampling research and semester projects. The second grant will study anthropogenic effects of stormwater by sampling and analyzing water quality on the Upper Leon and development of an outdoor living laboratory for K-12 outreach and Low impact design/study located on campus. Students will provide instruction in sustainable water conservation and water quality systems through low impact develop and research papers. Additionally a carbon sequestration study on 600 acres of our campus property was funded through the Office of Sustainability allowing graduate research and analysis.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
No

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

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

In November of 2019 UTSA began construction of a low impact development which will develop a water quality treatment train including cisterns, grassy swale, rain garden and bioswale to treat 9.5 acres of stormwater. The facility will be used as a living laboratory and outdoor classroom. The structure will be online in April of 2020.
The Department of Engineering maintains an onsite rain water lab equip with a trailer for overnight observations and rain tower to model the aspects flow physics.

(June 16, 2017) – – Over the summer a group of scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston, Baylor University, Rice University, St. Edward’s University, and Aerodyne Research Inc., will be at UTSA to work on an atmospheric research projects. The Main Campus was selected as the host site because of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) interest in San Antonio’s air quality. The two projects will run from May until September and include air quality measurements and the launching of weather balloons containing ozone instruments. Dr. Hatim Sharif of UTSA and his students collaborated with St. Edward’s to launch some of the balloons.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
No

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

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

The UTSA Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute (TSERI) is dedicated to sustainability research and is currently using the UTSA campus operations for several energy related research projects including solar power (sponsored by the local utility company; CPS Energy), also research on new battery technology (sponsored by Microsoft).


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:

The UTSA department of Nutrition and Dietetics partners with the Student Organization "Garden Society" to maintain an on campus garden. The MOU between the student group and academic department share responsibility for the garden both physical support and planning and maintaining plant growth and gardening. The effort is an exchange of academic and student interaction that results in a space for learning and campus engagement. The garden society hopes to establish a protocol to open an on campus station for free vegetables in 2020.


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:

Stormwater runoff is a significant issue on our campus and due to our proximity to the aquifer recharge zone University Operations is required to maintain strict controls on grounds operations. (May 17, 2016) -- Marcio Giacomoni, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Heather Shipley, associate professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), have received a $400,000 grant from the City of San Antonio for their ongoing work in stormwater and onsite infiltration of low impact development on campus that produced a 6 chamber facility to demonstrate the differences between bedding media, stone, biomix, sand with both liners and no-liner to show infiltration.


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?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:
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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 Waste?:
No

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

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

Storm water treatment and use is vital in our area due to the university location about an aquifer recharge zone. The low impact development will be used as an outdoor classroom for engineering, Environmental Science and Ecology and Multidisciplinary course work.Water use, conservation, and protection is a vital part of the research being conducted at UTSA. UTSA has a grant from the City of San Antonio to develop low impact developments on campus for the purposes of research and student engagement. A rain garden was developed in summer of 2019 and a bioswale with cisterns will be online in Aug. of 2020.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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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 Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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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 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?:
No

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