Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Andrea Trimble
Submission Date May 29, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Andrea Trimble
Director - Office for Sustainability
Office for Sustainability
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Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Other Yes

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University has been committed to using its campus as a living laboratory for Air and Climate. Since Fall 2009, over 700 students in the Global Sustainability foundation course have completed Think Global/Act Local Projects. Each semester student teams collaborate with diverse community partners to implement meaningful research service learning projects in the community and on U.Va.'s Grounds. In addition to numerous organizations, forums, products and initiatives such as the "Renewable Energy Open Dialogue," "Timbercreek Composting," the University has strived to engage students in community members to come together and share ideas and best practices.

Several projects have focused on air & climate aspects, which can be viewed here: http://www.globalsustainability.virginia.edu/course/projects/


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University is also committed to using its campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and given that "Thomas Jefferson designed the Lawn as a teaching tool, specifying that the columns on the pavilions and Rotunda illustrate the different orders of classical architecture. An example of this commitment and opportunity to emulate this strategy is seen in the design of the Engineering School - Rice Hall, and information technology building.

With the assistance of Trane, a leading manufacturer of commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), and the geotechnical, environmental and civil engineering firm of H.C. Yu & Associates, the School transformed the building into a Living Laboratory. It instrumented Rice Hall with 17,000 sensors to monitor the building’s heating, cooling, lighting and energy recovery systems. In essence, these sensors transformed the building into a test bed for sustainable use, setting the stage for faculty and students to work with Trane engineers to develop new energy efficient HVAC strategies and products. “There are few buildings like this in the country,” says Larry Cummings, Trane’s market leader for strategic partnerships.
A special feature of the Living Laboratory is its six pairs of offices and laboratories, all sharing a similar size, orientation and use pattern, but each outfitted with different heating and cooling technologies. “In most cases, this kind of comparative analysis — especially at the room level — is conducted in carefully controlled test facilities,” says Ronald Williams, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Students will be able to see how these systems perform in real spaces occupied by real people on a daily basis.”

Trane views its participation as a strategic investment. “Certainly, we’re helping the Engineering School meet its facilities needs and serve its mission,” Cummings says. “At the same time, Trane will be learning things that will help us develop new products and differentiate ourselves in a very competitive marketplace.” The functionality and design of the building has contributed greatly to the studying environment and aided in the collaborative nature of the space.

More information can be found at: Rice Hall Living Laboratory (http://seas.virginia.edu/pubs/unbound/fall13/ricehall.php)


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Moreover, the University strives to use its campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food. To do so, The Green Dining Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee is comprised of students, faculty, and staff was established to facilitate work in on-grounds projects. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Green Dining initiatives demonstrated significant progress in the furtherance of sustainable dining practices at the University. Waste diversion was a pronounced component within the portfolio of anticipated goals. Composting of food waste on Grounds was expanded to include a total of 20 locations managed by U.Va. Dining. As a result, the organic diversion rate in 2013 increased approximately 50%. Over 148 tons (US) of organic waste material was repurposed as compost in 2013. Additionally, unique events such as Game Day Challenge and Recyclemania not only helped increase overall diversion rates, but also simultaneously raised awareness and encouraged student participation. In an attempt to proactively limit waste, reusable ware programs were encouraged through the promotion of reusable to-go boxes as well as distribution of reusable mugs. Sustainable packaging is ingrained in the purchasing protocol for a significant portion of U.Va. Dining’s program, which increases diversion capabilities. Green Dining continuously strives to increase its sustainably sourced menu options. The undertaking includes, but is not limited to, offering Meat-Free Monday meals, providing a designated residential vegan station, increasing the purchasing capacity of certified Fair Trade products, procuring local and/or organically grown food items, and sourcing sustainably harvested seafood. Green Dining outreach efforts were incorporated into U.Va. Sustainability programming for World Water Day, Campus Sustainability Day and Earth Day. In addition, a significant amount of outreach was directed at promoting unique Sustainable Food events again, intended to promote awareness of U.Va. Dining’s sustainability efforts.

This commitment has garnered positive feedback and has helped the University promote sustainability to various students, faculty and staff. The positive outcomes associated with this work can be seen in students' awareness and appreciation in recycling, composting, and desire to learn and be more sustainable on Grounds.

Additionally, Morven Kitchen Garden is a one-acre living laboratory and an opportunity for students to run a garden and run a CSA business. https://morvenkitchengarden.wordpress.com/


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University is also committed to using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy. The Energy Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee, is comprised of students, faculty, and staff, and formed in October 2013. The group's goals focus on three primary areas – changes to the physical infrastructure towards increased energy efficiency, education to inform students about energy conservation issues, and initiatives to change energy consumption behavior.

In 2013, the Group researched peer institutions to gather information regarding setting an overall energy reduction goal. In addition to goal setting and research, the Group participated in the Dorm Energy Race and IDEA’s 3rd and 4th annual campus energy system video contest, placing 2nd and 1st, respectively.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Furthermore, the University has displayed its promise to using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds by establishing the Open Space Working Group. This group consists of representatives of both U.Va. (students, faculty, staff) and the U.Va. Foundation spent 2013-2014 collaborating to identify potential projects and initiatives that would be beneficial to both. A partnership was established with the Stormwater Working Group. In 2014-2015, students are leading an initiative to explore the possibility of outdoor, solar-powered benches/charging stations.

The University's desire to bring and collaborate with numerous personnel and organizations from various disciplines also demonstrates its desire to be a leader in higher education with regards to being conscious of their impact on the environment. These initiatives have helped the institution progress and further challenge it to strive for more awareness and accomplishments through the University.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University is also committed to using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing. The Green Grounds Group, for example, is dedicated to educating and advocating for sustainable planning, design, implementation and operations on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

Formed in 2004 by planning and architecture students to address green design at the University, the group sponsors projects that encompass a range of sustainable design ideas – from green roofs to energy use to transportation. Through each project, Green Grounds works with a diverse set of university stakeholders including administrators, staff, faculty, students and community members.

Holding a strong conviction that the University of Virginia can and should employ sustainable practices as part of their growth strategy, the Green Grounds Group promotes a broad range of projects from minimization of energy consumption to selection of low environmental impact materials to site and building water management to improved indoor air quality.

Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in its activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization that is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts or omissions.

This information is quoted from: https://atuva.student.virginia.edu/organization/greengroundsgroup/about


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University's commitment to using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation is demonstrated through the Transportation Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee. The group is comprised of students, faculty, and staff. This year, with the impending graduation of the group’s student lead, Alex, and an EIS-wide directive towards long-term plans, the Transportation Working Group focused on projects with long-term implications compared to the high-impact, short-term projects completed in previous years. At the very core of this mission, one of the group’s GIFT projects, Redefining Transportation, assembled a total of 30 students, staff, faculty, and local residents to evaluate mobility around U.Va. during a 2 hour workshop entitled Sustained Mobility. While the Carbon Reduction Plan and Nitrogen Reduction Plan affect vehicle transportation, the working group realized that mobility (both motorized and non-motorized) better addressed the root problem: multiple alternative trip modes from source to destination.

While Sustained Mobility did not consider ADA mobility needs, it did consider bus routes, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian access, flooding, and nighttime safety in detail by splitting participants into predefined University quadrants and facilitating discussion. Following the event, Kimley Horn compiled the maps and notes written from the event to draft a summary that was then prioritized by the working group to create a Master Plan for the University. Outside of this project, the working group led a special committee to select the vendor, Social Bicycles, for the Bike Share program debuting in the fall; distributed free front and rear bike lights while hosting a bike safety quiz, U.Va. Police bike registration, and a bike safety pledge; and held monthly maintenance workshops at the fix it stations placed by the group in prior years.

Moreover, there was great feedback by numerous students in not only having alternative forms of transportation but ones that addressed issues surrounding sustainability. Additionally, this has started dialogue on ways the University can better serve its students, faculty and staff in was that are sustainable.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University is also committed to using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste. The Materials Working group is comprised of students, faculty, and staff, is under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee and also includes several task forces dedicated to specific projects on Grounds. A primary concern of the group participants is the lack of co-location of trash and recycling bins inside buildings. Libraries are of particular concern, as often there is a trash can located at each desk or table, while recycling bins are only located near the doors. The working group decided to conduct an audit of Alderman Library, a location known for having trash cans at every desk in the stacks, and develop recommendations to decrease trash cans, improve co-location, and increase recycling. The group partnered with Green Grounds for the audit, as Green Grounds is working to improve recycling in the Clark Hall coffee shop. When finished, the group will present recommendations to UVa Libraries, Housekeeping, and UVa Recycling.

The Styrofoam Working Group finalized draft language for the Expanded Polystyrene Policy, which was presented to the EIS for review at the January meeting. The policy bans the single use of food service products made of expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) on the academic side of Grounds. The policy currently does not include the Health System, but the Materials Working Group will continue to work with the Health System to eventually apply the policy in those areas. The Policy has been submitted to the University Policy Committee through their review process.

The positive outcomes associated with this commitment are the sharing of best practices, collaboration on ideas and methodologies. Moreover, these organizations have been recognized by various students, faculty and staff and aligned with the University's commitment to integrating a sustainable initiative in its mission.

EIS Waste Recycling and Composing: Graphics and Standards Task Force - Continuing on the success of the installation of three BigBelly’s last year, the Task Force continued to focus on the possibility of expanding the BigBelly Program on Grounds. BigBelly units have a solar compacting trash can collocated with a recycling bin in a side by side unit. A waste audit conducted in the fall showed that BigBelly units received less contamination in their recycling and trash bins than traditional units and reduced the number of trash pick-ups required. As a result, the Task Force submitted a GIF Proposal to fund the expansion of the BigBelly program to add up to 20 additional bins at high volume locations.

The Zero Waste Initiative continued to gain momentum this year, as the UVa Office for Sustainability joined forces with zero waste to perform a large-scale pilot at the U.Va. vs. Notre Dame basketball game. The event was similar in concept to the Zero Waste Athletics pilot in 2013 but larger in scale. The combined efforts helped make the event a success, collecting 1,300 lbs of compost, 1,600 lbs of recycling, and 800 lbs of cardboard. In addition, Matt and Ashley, along with their successors Blake and Ford, continued to work with John Paul Jones Arena staff to evaluate options for making back-of-house composting a permanent part of operations at the Arena.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Furthermore, the University has dedicated to using the campus as a living laboratory for Water through the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee's Storm Water Task Force (SWTF). This task force has an ultimate goal of improving local streams by reducing the volume of storm water that leaves Grounds and improving the quality of the water that does. A philosophy adopted by the SWTF is that a reduction in quantity of storm water runoff is a foremost priority, which will in turn reduce downstream erosion and transport of sediment, nutrients, and pollutants.

Last year, the SWTF worked to identify opportunities and establish relationships for doing so. To encourage and promote student involvement, SWTF also focused on student outreach and education this year. The students created many materials for future outreach initiatives, and an online presence as an avenue for outreach.

Additionally, the Water Working Group elected to pursue a series of both finite and broader policy-level projects. Bottle Fill Station Retrofits, a ‘I Heart Tap’ Poster Campaign, and Dorm Water Challenge are projects that target individual user education and action. These projects address cost savings for users; more responsible use of global water resources; reduction in petroleum, energy and carbon dioxide emissions (from the manufacture, shipping and recycling of single use plastic water bottles); reduction of plastic waste in oceans; and reduction of the University’s potable water use and waste/recycling stream.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Green Initiative Funding Tomorrow (GIFT) Grant is a $30,000 grant for sustainable initiatives around Grounds. Any student, student organization, faculty, or staff member can apply, and multiple grants will be awarded. All projects must be submitted as a PDF or word file to Story Hinckley at sah4yj@virginia.edu, and all projects will be evaluated on the following criteria:
1. Connection to University: Project directly addresses environmental sustainability on the University of Virginia Grounds or in the capacity that on-Grounds activities directly influence environmental sustainability in the surrounding community.
2. University Affiliation: Project proposal is submitted by a UVA student, staff member, and/or faculty member on behalf of an individual or UVA program, organization, office, or department. Non-university affiliated Individuals and organizations may not submit proposals.
3. Innovation: Project is innovative in nature and does not include routine maintenance or code-compliant activities. Fund may support the gap between code-compliant and more sustainable alternatives.
4. Feasibility and Institutional Support: Project is feasible and has support from appropriate University individuals and entities. Individual students or student organizations must have the signature of a faculty or staff advisor who is committed to advising throughout project implementation.
5. Appropriateness of Schedule and Budget Request
6. Cost/Benefit Analysis (as applicable): Project proposal outlines project payback, lifecycle costs and savings, etc.
7. Environmental Benefits: Project demonstrates a reduction in UVA’s carbon footprint or provides other environmental benefits such as water conservation, storm water management, biodiversity conservation, waste minimization, etc.
8. Student Experience: Project includes opportunities for student involvement and/or will positively impact the student experience.
9. Outreach and Education: Project considers education and outreach opportunities and has included them as part of its implementation plan.

Additionally, students are an integral part of the University Committee on Sustainability, which is the highest-level sustainability committee at U.Va. and which reports to all three Executive Vice Presidents.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The innovative QuestBridge program connects high-achieving students who may have obstacles to attending college with some of the country’s best universities. In 2010, U.Va. joined the group of elite QuestBridge partners, which includes Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Emory and Dartmouth universities.

This spring, eight students are on track to become the first QuestBridge scholarship recipients to earn their degrees from U.Va.

The QuestBridge program is an important part of the University’s efforts to increase socioeconomic diversity.

QuestBridge offers UVa a new way to recruit talented low-income students, and as such can be seen as an experiment in Diversity and Affordability at UVa. Nationally the program seeks to test the hypothesis that 1) Abundant low-income talent exists 2)Most top low-income students in America don't apply to top colleges who want them and 3) Better recruitment can close this gap.

http://news.virginia.edu/content/first-questbridge-scholars-excel-grounds-are-poised-graduate

http://www.questbridge.org/about-questbridge/mission-a-vision


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Additionally, the University is committed to using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing and Work through, for example, the Stall Seat Journal. The Stall Seat Journal (SSJ) is a poster created by professionals and students from the Office of Health Promotion. It uses a social norms approach with data from U.Va. students to showcase the healthy choices they’re making. It also educates about safe, responsible choices around a variety of health issues. The SSJ hangs in the bathroom stalls of first-year dorms, Newcomb, and Elson Student Health Center.

People tend to overestimate certain unhealthy behaviors. One reason is that many of these behaviors are visible and they draw our attention, like people smoking or a person passed out at a party. One survey showed 68% of U.Va. students overestimated the number of drinks per week that most U.Va. students consume.

Likewise, people tend to underestimate certain healthy behaviors because they are largely invisible or “part of the pattern.” Studying, prayer and using a condom are all examples of this. 32% of U.Va. students didn’t realize that most U.Va. students, while drinking alcohol, make their own drinks or watch their drinks being made.

Overestimating unhealthy behaviors and underestimating healthy behaviors can create internal pressure to behave a certain way. By correcting misperceptions like these and focusing on the accurate ‘norm,’ students have space to act on their own values."

Through the SSJ and other programs such as the Peer Health Educators, the University has engaged in educating its students on the importance of understanding Health and Wellbeing. Moreover, these initiatives have helped students engage in ways that the University can better serve its students and other faculty/staff.

The following is quoted from U.Va.'s Department of Student Health's website.
http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/socialnorms.html


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University is also committed to using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment. In 2014, an Investment Working Group was established which is co-chaired by a student and a staff members.

Through this group, students are working with staff and faculty members to make a case for the university to commit to socially responsible investing. Students in the group are creating a benchmarking paper, and are working with faculty to also develop a proposal.

This group not only demonstrates the reasons why it is important for the University to engage in sustainability issues, but that there is a demand from the students. This increasing demand will not only produce innovative ideas but assist the University making sure sustainable issues are at the forefront of discussion.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Furthermore, the University has been committed to using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement. Since Fall 2009, over 700 students in the Global Sustainability foundation course have completed Think Global/Act Local Projects. Each semester student teams collaborate with diverse community partners to implement meaningful research service learning projects in the community and on U.Va.'s Grounds.

Through such initiatives, the University has successfully engaged in the larger Charlottesville community to establish relationships, share best practices and ideas, and engage in projects/discourse to benefit both the University and the larger community.

Several projects have focused on public engagement and can be viewed here: http://www.globalsustainability.virginia.edu/course/projects/#


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Lastly, the University is also committed to using the campus as a living laboratory in other areas besides the ones mentioned above. In September 2013, U.Va. became the first university in the nation to set a reactive nitrogen goal when the Board of Visitors amended the approved Sustainability Commitment to include a goal to reduce the amount of reactive nitrogen lost to the environment to levels 25% below year 2009 amounts by the year 2025. This research, which created the first nitrogen footprint for a university, is a student led project, first developed as a 2009 undergraduate thesis by Allison Leach. The ongoing project is led by Allison Leach and Professor Jim Galloway in the Department of Environmental Sciences.

The integrated nitrogen footprint project aims to develop a replicable model to help universities calculate and reduce their nitrogen footprint. The research team has designed this replicable model, has calculated the nitrogen footprint of U.Va., has helped establish the University’s goal, and is in the process of extending this replicable model to other universities. U.Va.’s progress towards meeting the nitrogen goal will be tracked by the Office for Sustainability through collaboration with others across the University to obtain data. Full updates to the model will occur every four years.

A Nitrogen Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee, formed in early 2015. In this group, students, faculty, and staff will collaborate to implement nitrogen-reducing projects on grounds.

These successes not only speak to the University's overall commitment to be a sustainably conscious institution. Not only has it garnered local recognition, but the University has also garnered national recognition for its efforts.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:

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.