Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.48
Liaison Amy Brunvand
Submission Date Oct. 21, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Utah
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Emerson Andrews
Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund Manager
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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:

Med School Sustainability Luncheon – 2018
• University medical students received SCIF grant funding to host a luncheon to create a sustainability interest group in the School of Medicine. The luncheon engaged students on the medical campus with general sustainability practices, and its inception has inspired various interest groups in the School of Medicine.

U of U Wildlife photography – 2018
• While the campus is often alive with students, faculty, and staff, it is also occupied by various wildlife. Students produced a field book of images to increase campus awareness of wildlife on campus.


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:

Sustainable Science Education – 2018
• This project engaged local public elementary schools through air quality education. The student project leaders, in partnership with the university’s trace gas lab, developed lesson plans and purchased build-your-own air quality sensor kits that were used for outreach lessons at local schools.

Red Butte Monitoring and Visitor Survey – 2018
• This project hired a student surveyor to assess current visitor use and visitor experience through direct public engagement to document public user motivations and preferences at a popular, local, relatively sustainable outdoor recreation trail destination—the Living Room, in the Red Butte/Mt. Wire area—immediately proximal to the University of Utah campus. This research is necessary to mitigate potential user conflict and negative environmental impacts from increased use related to the proposed Foothill trail development.

Shyamali: Sprouting Words – 2017
• This project hosted a series of public events featuring the Ananya Dance Theatre’s performance of Shyamali, Sprouting Words in October 2017. The events included a 1) week-long interdisciplinary student intensive, 2) a high school workshop, and 3) a public audience empowerment workshop offered by Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT), in conjunction with 4) their performance. This project engaged students from across campus in a uniquely interdisciplinary way, intersecting sustainability, social justice, and dance-making to foster resilient communities. https://attheu.utah.edu/facultystaff/sowing-seeds-of-justice/


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:

AQMC Maintenance and Training -2019
• A PhD student conducted training for other students on maintaining air quality monitoring equipment used in the trace gas lab at University of Utah’s Air Quality Monitoring Center. This maintenance and training enabled the lab to continue its on campus monitoring and valley-wide research.

Equitable Vogmasks – 2019
• This student project provided reusable filtration masks from Vogmask to students, staff, and faculty at a subsidized rate. Students proposed the program based on concerns about prolonged exposure to local winter-time air pollution.

Peoples Climate March – 2017
• Students partnered with the local indigenous group PANDOS for the 2017 People’s Climate March. The student groups that participated in this climate march used a student funded grant to support a local indigenous group as part of their participation in the march. https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=5234374&itype=CMSID


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:

AEB Bird Strike Mitigation – 2018
• Concerned with the frequency of bird deaths, a faculty member and students received funding to install an anti bird-strike film on windows at the historic AEB building at the University of Utah. In addition to working with university facilities to retrofit historic buildings with feather friendly film, the group also researched the frequency and factors for bird strikes and, after successful installation, laid out a set of recommendations for mitigating bird strikes into the future.

Hand Dryers in FASB – 2017
• This project was based on results from the faculty led, Life Cycle Analysis research for hand drying options on campus. Graduate students received funding to install the most sustainable hand drying option for campus, Dyson hand dryers, in the FASB building.


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:

Solar Hot water Feasibility Study – 2017
• Mechanical Engineering students worked with faculty mentor(s) and staff from Energy Manager’s office to evaluate and provide feasibility study for the potential for large-scale solar generation of hot water for use on campus both for domestic use and for pre-heat in the campus high-temperature central heating plants.

Centennial Valley Solar – 2017
• Students worked with Facilities staff to obtain grant for installation of solar photovoltaic system at a field study station – Taft-Nicholson Center in Montana.

U of U vertical Access Wind Turbine – 2018
• Engineering students built a model of a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine to be installed on the rooftop of a building on campus. The idea is that by placing the turbine on a vertical axis, it would be able to create power from smaller microbursts most common in urban areas.

TPV efficiency Study – 2017
• A student group of engineers received grant funding to construct and install solar thermo-photovoltaic device underneath PV arrays on camps research the device’s ability to conserve solar radiation and heat and convert it into to electrical power.

Hybrid Heat Engine – 2018
• Engineering students constructed a lab-scale model of the Hybrid Heat Engine (HHE) to demonstrate its feasibility as a source of non-polluting, renewable electrical power on campus. The Hybrid Heat Engine is a new invention that utilizes waste heat energy to provide sustainable, baseload electrical power without pollution. The intention was that the HHE would be used in tandem with the heat generated at the University’s cogeneration plant.


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 Aqua-Project – 2019
• A student group designed and installed a hydroponics system in the Lassonde institute at the University of Utah. The system focus primarily on the production of leafy greens and other fresh vegetables that are given to the Feed U Pantry, the U’s on-campus food bank, and provided to the campus community, free of charge. https://dailyutahchronicle.com/2019/03/31/new-hydroponic-gardens-sprouting-at-the-u/

Union Reusable Utensils – 2018
• In an effort to reduce waste associated with dining on campus, students used grant funding to purchase reusable utensils that were distributed to students at the Union Dining Hall during hours of operation.

Cultural Aspects of Food – 2018
• The Cultural Aspects of Food project asked students who were enrolled in the course practice responsible food waste reduction processes. In the course students were often sent home with leftovers, but very few students had reusable containers to carry the food. This grant funded the purchase both compostable containers and reusable grocery bags for use in the course.


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:

Green Infrastructure Pollinator Garden – 2018
• An interdisciplinary group of faculty and students installed green infrastructure and a pollinator garden in place of the existing lawn area between the Architecture Building, School of Business, and University Museum of Fine Arts. This project mitigated a flooding problem to Architecture building, reduced irrigation requirements, increased biodiversity on campus by supporting native pollinators, and created a space where students and teachers will want to go to enjoy campus and learn about sustainable solutions being pioneered by the University.

ADA Accessibility at the Campus Garden – 2017
• Students, in cooperation with the gardens coordinator, secured funding to install an ADA accessible walkway for the Pioneer Garden, which is part of the Edible Campus Gardens (ECG). By adding an ADA compliant pathway east west through the garden, students provided community access to the garden.

Solar Seating – 2018
• Students worked with the grounds department and the student union to purchase and install University branded solar umbrellas on campus. The purchase of these umbrellas set the standard for solar seating and was driven by the grounds department.


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

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

Green Office Paper Purchasing – 2019
• Masters of Public Administration student researched more sustainable paper purchasing practices for the university. Her work informed the university Green Office Program and was presented at AASHE.


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:

Social Equity in Transit – 2017
• A student, in cooperation with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), conducted research that used a combination of statistical and GIS analysis tools to evaluate regions on a number of different criteria with respect to social equity provision by transit. A systematic evaluation based on these criteria was used to create a transit equity index (TEI).

WEB Bike Parking Upgrade – 2017
• A student worked with the Active Transportation Manager to upgrade and expand bike parking at the Warnock Engineering Building. The engineering building was selected because of historical parking capacity problems that resulted in, at times quasi comical, misuse of the landscape for the purpose of bike parking.

USA Fix-It Stations – 2017
• A graduate student secured funding to install 2 bike fix it stations in the University Student Apartments. The student worked with the Active transportation Manager to install these facilities. The idea is that these amenities enable active transportation by providing a pathway for bike maintenance without charge in a housing complex with limited space to do repairs.


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:

Lab Glove Recycling Initiative – 2018
• A student in the chemistry department received the funding necessary to initiate a lab glove recycling program in the chemistry department. The student recognized the needs for a glove recycling program after observing the amount of waste that was created by their daily glove needs. If successful, the program will expand to other laboratories on campus.

Zero Waste Spa – 2019
• Students, in collaboration with the Bennion Center received funding to host a Zero Waste Spa. This Spa provided attendees with the opportunity to sustainably make their own zero waste body care products. This project provided students with the material and knowledge necessary to rethink their hygiene habits and the associated waste.

Waste Audit – 2019
• Students, in collaboration with waste management and facilities sustainability, received funding to conduct a waste audit at select, high priority, locations to measure the amount of food that the University could send to the Wasatch resource Recovery composting digester. This audit was the first step by the university to provide a pathway to use composting facilities at the Wasatch Resource Recovery Center inasmuch as it gave the waste management team an understanding of composting capacity.


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:

Faculty and students engaged with the Global Change and Sustainability Center and the associated Water Center and Center for Ecological Planning and Design have worked closely with staff in facilities and operations and community partners since 2013 to conduct research about campus water resources including Red Butte Creek, which passes through campus. Examples of this work were shared at a Red Butte Creek research symposium in December of 2018 (http://cepd.cap.utah.edu/2019/02/poster-presentations-from-the-2018-rbc-symposium/) which highlighted student research from several departments including Environmental Studies, Geology and Geophysics, Biology, Anthropology, Environmental Humanities, City and Metropolitan Planning, Parks Recreation and Tourism, and Art related to topics such as green infrastructure, evapotransporation, patterns of incision and sediment deposition associated with creek flow, infiltration, ecology and biodiversity related to water availability, water quality and quantity, and outdoor recreation associated with the creek.


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:

Building on a focused effort to include ecological processes, sustainability, and stewardship of the campus environment, and particular focused on Red Butte Creek, faculty and students associated with the Global Change and Sustainability Center and the Center for Ecological Planning and Design (CEPD) worked closely with University planning to develop a Red Butte Creek Strategic Vision that is guided by student work (https://indd.adobe.com/view/2b45f21d-886c-4560-9374-82666797fed3).
One important aspect of this vision is the Landscape Lab, a property in Research Park adjacent to Red Butte Creek. In partnership with the Office of Sustainability, the Global Change and Sustainability Center, campus facilities and planning, and the Real Estate Administration, the CEPD has convened a collaborative design process to re-create the landscape of the Williams Building property. Led by a landscape architecture consultant, the research design team has worked to weave ecological and social-impact research questions into the new landscaping process so that the University can benefit from an ongoing investigative and learning relationship with this piece of land. The project will restore native ecological diversity and function to this portion of the Red Butte Creek watershed; increase access to recreational space for occupants of the building, the campus community, and the public; and test research questions about urban stream restoration, urban runoff management, hydrology, use of public space, and more.


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:

WLI Computer Access – 2018
• Students in the City & Metropolitan Planning department received funding for the purchase and re-purpose retired computers from University Surplus & Salvage. The refurbished computers were used for a multilingual continuing education course on computer literacy at a predominantly low-income high school. This project addressed two aspect of sustainability: electronic waste diversion, and equitable access to digital media through the University Neighborhood Partners class.


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:

Students created the student fee funded Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) as a revolving loan fund dedicated to large-scale sustainability projects at the University of Utah. The SEF is transforming the campus through investment energy conservation, waste reduction, operation efficiency and behavior change projects. Often the initial costs of these projects – such as solar panels and high efficiency water heaters can be a barrier for the university, even if the project will save money over its lifetime. Students created the SEF to fill this gap and implement these projects.


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:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Examples of projects that exemplify the campus as a living laboratory were selected from activities supported by the following courses and programs:

SUST 6000: Global Changes & Society
A project-based course, required to earn an Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability
URL: https://catalog.utah.edu/#/courses/EJ4LdyHC-?bc=true&bcCurrent=Global%20Changes%20and%20Society&bcItemType=Courses

Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF)
URL: https://sustainability.utah.edu/scif/

Honors College Praxis Labs
URL: https://honors.utah.edu/praxis-labs/
Topics for 2020-2021: College Affordability, Aging Well in Utah

Lowell Bennion Community Service Center
URL: https://bennioncenter.org/

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.