Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.15
Liaison Andrea Trimble
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
4.00 / 4.00 Andrea Trimble
Director - Office for Sustainability
Office for Sustainability
"---" 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:

Since Fall 2009, over 1300 of students in the Global Sustainability foundation course have completed Think Global/Act Local Projects. Each semester student teams collaborate with Univesrity partners to implement meaningful research service learning projects across UVA. In fall 2019 Architecture Professor Phoebe Crisman’s Global Sustainability course received a UVA Library Course Enrichment Grant to enable students to explore new technologies. Professor Crisman, the Robertson Media Center, and the Office for Sustainability teamed up to develop a new approach to the course’s Think Global Act Local project, comprised of several interrelated assignments. UVA staff led six field trips across several Fridays and across 200+ students to share how UVA addresses global challenges, including energy, water, waste, food, and green buildings. Using Adobe Spark, students then created photovoice assignments (photographs and narratives) reflecting on issues encountered during field trips. In small groups, students used what they learned through lectures and field trips to create a video pitch to accelerate sustainable change on Grounds, expanding on the work UVA has already done. Over the past ten years, Professor Crisman and her 1,457 students have collaborated with UVA and community partners to develop and realize local sustainability solutions.

Since Spring 2019, a Sustainability Leadership class has been offered, an experiential, workshop-based course, in which students develop leadership skills in translating ideas into action, using UVA's Grounds for engaged learning – the campus as a sustainability classroom. Students gain insight into a process in which individuals can catalyze change to solve global problems and advance strategic goals on a local level though a place-based, project-based, and human-centered approach. All projects are implemented on Grounds and many focus on peer to peer student outreach initiatives across topic areas.


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:

Environmental Sciences professor Deborah Lawrence and Charlottesville artist Amanda Nelsen taught the third Write Climate course in Spring 2020, a course that uses art to communicate about climate change. The UVA students enrolled in the UVA course joined Charlottesville High School teachers and eighty CHS ninth grade students in four environmental science classes every other week and also led a weekly after school art club. The UVA and CHS students learned about climate science and worked on a collaborative, community-focused art project rolling buns from single-use plastic. In early March the CHS students took a field trip to UVA and toured various sites led by UVA staff. They learned about stormwater at The Dell, district energy at the heat plant, environmental science and green building at Clark Hall, solar panels on Ruffner Hall, and sustainable food at O’Hill Dining Hall.


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 Fall 2020, students enrolled in a Designing a Carbon Neutral Future course, an interactive seminar designed to engage students in the rapidly evolving concept of economy-wide decarbonization. This seminar provided students with the tools and support to participate directly in UVA’s plans to develop a ‘Carbon Neutral by 2030’ strategy. This course introduced the concept, rationale, mechanisms, and pathways underlying decarbonization. Students became familiar with the major sectors contributing to climate change and analyze pathways for decarbonization. Over the course of the semester, students worked in multidisciplinary teams to select an operational unit of the University with which to collaborate and develop a carbon neutral plan. Weekly guest speakers with expertise in each sector were invited to provide insight and act as a resource for student groups.

Additionally, student represenatives participate in the UVA + William and Mary Carbon Neutrality 2030 partnership committees, in which stakeholders work together on climate solutions at each university.


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:

https://engineering.virginia.edu/link-lab
Both graduate and undergraduate students participate in a variety of research and educational opportunities in the Link Lab, which enables students to connect academics and research to hands-on learning about the built environment.The Smart Cities component of the Link Lab focuses on technology to make urban and rural areas safer, more resilient, and more efficient.
https://engineering.virginia.edu/link-lab/research/smart-cities-0


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 Energy Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee, is comprised of students, faculty, and staff, and has been active since 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.


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 UVA Morven Kitchen Garden is a one-acre living laboratory and an opportunity for students to run a garden and run a CSA business. https://morven.virginia.edu/mkg/ The Morven Kitchen Garden has provided inspiration for student academic projects as well as been a place to create innovative student programs. Students have introduced beehives to the garden, created a CSA program, studied possibilities for rainwater catchment and created exciting programs like Perennials for Patients. MKG Exec is the student leadership group that advises, promotes, and connects the garden to Grounds. UVA students, faculty, and staff are welcome to volunteer in the garden and workdays are held year-round. Once used as an estate kitchen garden by the Kluge family, Morven Programs reclaimed the plot in 2011 when two students recognized the demand for a space where UVA students could experiment with sustainable agriculture. The students’ goal was for the garden to serve as “a sustainable food source as well as a hands-on learning site for students, faculty and community members.” MKG Founders, Marie Schacht and Michelle Aronson are featured in the photo.

Tremendous UVA student, community, and faculty support resulted in the footprint of today’s garden. Soon after came the establishment of the CSA and student research projects. Students began developing marketing strategies for garden development. Morven Summer Institute Faculty began incorporating the garden as a learning tool for the classroom. Student leadership continues to the the key for the vision and growth of the Morven Kitchen Garden.

The Morven Kitchen Garden's goal is that all students involved in the Morven Kitchen Garden would have the opportunity to learn, lead, and connect through sustainably growing food.

Learn – Educational garden opportunities include semester and summer internships, weekly workdays, class visits, student academic projects, and seasonal events.

Lead – MKG Exec, the garden’s student leadership team advises, promotes, and connects the garden to Grounds. Volunteer workdays are led by MKG Exec and garden interns.

Connect – Opportunities to directly engage with the garden, the local food system, and greater Charlottesville Community include garden tours, our CSA program, and events like Gazpacho in the Garden.

Additionally, 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. Students also have the opportunity to volunteer in a garden on Grounds, located on the corner of McCormick and Alderman Roads.


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:

Since Spring 2019, a Sustainability Leadership class has been offered, an experiential, workshop-based course, in which students develop leadership skills in translating ideas into action, using UVA's Grounds for engaged learning – the campus as a sustainability classroom. Students gain insight into a process in which individuals can catalyze change to solve global problems and advance strategic goals on a local level though a place-based, project-based, and human-centered approach. All projects are implemented on Grounds.

In fall 2019 Professor Barbara Brown Wilson’s Toward the Resilient City class (Urban + Environmental Planning - School of Architecture) partnered with the Office for Sustainability to support students in semester-long group projects to explore how course concepts could be applied on Grounds.

Through case studies and research, students from 16 different degree programs examined what makes a city resilient and then enhanced their learning through application of the International Living Future Institute’s Living Community Challenge. In small groups students developed a pitch via posters and videos for a strategy to each implement one concept embodied in a “petal” from the Living Community Challenge on Grounds. Projects included proposals to address equity in UVA’s restrooms, transforming UVA’s heating system, reimagining the role of bikes on Grounds, a net positive water system, and a tool to incentivize wellness programs amongst students.

Graduating Master of Landscape Architecture Student Andrew Spears received a $2500 Sustainability Green Initiative Funding Tomorrow (GIFT) grant to build a solar-powered wood kiln at the O’Hill yard. The kiln will be used to dry wood from dead or dying trees on Grounds that has been locally milled. The wood will used for student projects in the School of Architecture and elsewhere.


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:

The Green Grounds student organization is dedicated to educating and advocating for sustainable planning, design, implementation and operations on the grounds of the University of Virginia. https://atuva.student.virginia.edu/organization/greengroundsgroup/
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

Additionally, the Procurement Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee, partners students with faculty and staff and in 2016 the group developed zero waste criteria for caterer and held training for staff purchasers.


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:

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. In recent years, the group has hosted bike UVA maintenance clinics, conducted an employee mode-split survey, and conducted outreach for UVA's UBike program.


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:

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. In recent years the working group worked on a Hoos ReUse move-out donation drive, provided outreach support for new co-located recycling and trash bins, and piloted composting paper towels in restrooms.

In 2018, Facilities Management and the Office for Sustainability partnered with the School of Engineering's Solid Waste Management course. Students conducted waste audits and developed recommendations to inform UVA's waste action plan.
https://news.virginia.edu/content/students-dumpster-dive-contribute-uva-trash-action-plan

In April 2020, School of Engineering AMP in Systems Engineering students worked with Facilities Management on a team capstone project to identify possible system-level strategies for achieving UVA’s solid waste goal of reducing the solid waste tonnage to 30% of the 2010 tonnage by 2030, a “large scale problem of major significance to UVA.” Students used engineering and business analytical skills to propose solutions to this strategic goal. The program was created by senior faculty at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science in collaboration with the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.


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:

The Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee's Clean Water Working Group partners students with faculty and staff. This task force has an ultimate goal of improving local streams by reducing the volume of stormwater 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. In recent years, the working group has created a functional bioretention area, held a stream clean up, proposed and implemented a portable water bar for events, designed singage for a biofilter. and installed a rainwater cistern for washing Facilities Management vehicles.


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:

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 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 UVA and which reports to all three Executive Vice Presidents.


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:

The Equity and Environment Fund supports student‐led projects and programs that explore the intersections of social and environmental issues. A student committee review applications. Projects funded to date include Greens to Grounds Boxes for Access UVA students and Morven Food Lab's Equity & Environment Fellows ‐ student fellowships funded to enhance Morven's farm‐to‐school research in partnership with City Schoolyard Garden to foster student engagement in Charlottesville's food system. The Equity and Environment Fund is run by students and projects are selected by a committee of students.


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:

UVA's Student Council includes group focused on UVA investments - The Student Council Sustainability Committeee Divestment Coalition - and wrote a letter to UVA's Board of Visitors to encourage responsible investing. https://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2020/05/divest-uva-an-open-letter-to-the-board-of-visitors

Additionally, the Committee on Sustainability includes a Responsible Investments working group of students, faculty, and staff.


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:

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 UVA 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.

https://www.studenthealth.virginia.edu/stall-seat-journal


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee (ESS), a subcommittee of the University Committee on Sustainability, promotes and enables environmental stewardship via student, staff, and faculty engagement and direct action on Grounds. There are currently 12 working groups and five task forces within the subcommittee. This subcommittee and its working groups are focused on enabling students to use the Grounds as a learning tool.
https://sustainability.virginia.edu/about-us/committee-sustainability/environmental-stewardship-subcommittee

Since Fall 2009, over 1,350 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 on Grounds and in the community.

Since Spring 2019, a Sustainability Leadership class has been offered, an experiential, workshop-based course, in which students develop leadership skills in translating ideas into action, using UVA's Grounds for engaged learning – the campus as a sustainability classroom. Students gain insight into a process in which individuals can catalyze change to solve global problems and advance strategic goals on a local level though a place-based, project-based, and human-centered approach.

As an extension to the Global Sustainability course, students develop their own project idea and work with UVA's Office for Sustainability and other UVA stakeholders to refine and implement a project pilot that addresses environmental challenges. A goal of the course is for each student to implement a pilot project that could potentially replicated on a larger scale in the future, while developing change management and project management skills.

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.