Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 51.72
Liaison Alex Frank
Submission Date Aug. 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Wisconsin-Madison
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Alex Frank
Sustainability Analyst
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:

The NSF funded Water Sustainability and Climate Project (WSC) in the Center for Limnology at UW-Madison was an integrated effort to understand how water (and the many other benefits people derive from nature) could change as our climate changes. The project focused on the Yahara Watershed in southern Wisconsin (https://wsc.limnology.wisc.edu/about/project)

One component of this project included research on the urban heat island effect in the greater Madison area. The research team investigated how plant cover and building density can affect the local climate, and how the local climate subsequently influences quality of life for people (https://wsc.limnology.wisc.edu/research/urban-heat-island).

In FY18, students and faculty completed research utilizing a bicycle-mounted measurement system to quantify the interaction of canopy cover and impervious surface cover on urban air temperature. The study found that daytime air temperature was substantially reduced with greater tree canopy cover and that reducing impervious surfaces remained important for lowering nighttime temperatures. Reference: Carly D. Ziter, Eric J. Pedersen, Christopher J. Kucharik, Monica G. Turner, Scale-dependent interactions between tree canopy cover and impervious surfaces reduce daytime urban heat during summer, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 116 (15), April 2019)


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:

Students in Civil and Environmental Engineering 421 (CIV ENGR 421) teamed up with the Green Fund at the Office of Sustainability to make campus buildings more sustainable.

The Green Fund is a program that supports student-initiated projects that reduce the environmental footprint and operating costs of on-campus facilities. Students in CIV ENGR 421 conducted life cycle analyses of equipment in residence halls, ultimately leading to the installation of new, water-efficient toilets at Tripp Hall. The project at Tripp Hall is expected to save $740,000, 124,000,000 gallons of water, and 946,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over the 20 year life of the fixtures (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/uelmen-green-fund-project/).

With the success of the Tripp Hall fixture replacement University Housing began a program to retrofit all the toilets in residence facilities.


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:

Following a year of research, project development, partnership building, and coordination, a new solar array was installed on the Gordon Dining & Event Center (Gordon) in spring 2019.

During the spring semester of 2018, a group of Office of Sustainability (OS) staff members and interns, as well as leaders of Helios (a student group aiming to promote renewable energy on campus) and the ASM Sustainability Committee, took a three-month course offered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association called Photovoltaic (PV) Development for Institutions. The OS worked with University Housing and with Helios to determine the feasibility of installing solar on the Gordon roof. This collaboration continued with funding from the Green Fund at the OS to support the design and construction of the solar array which is expected to produce 42,800 kWh per year (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/gordon-solar/).


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:

Environmental Studies 126 (Principles of Environmental Science, 4 credits, https://nelson.wisc.edu/featured-courses/course-126.php) introduces sustainability to undergraduates using data from campus facilities. Each of the past 5 years, students performed a laboratory experiment at a popular campus eatery. Students first selected a meal (donated by the eatery), then weighed it, photographed it, and ate it. Next, ingredient by ingredient using food supply chain data, students researched their meal in order to estimate its carbon footprint. By comparing different meals, students were able to discuss the environmental, social, and economic issues of different meal choices. Reference: Thomas W. Bryan and Catherine Middlecamp, Learning through eating: Bringing campus dining operations into an environmental science course, Sustainability: J of Record, Volume 10(1), 30-38, February 2017.


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:

In the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Water Resources Management program runs a summer workshop in which student-faculty teams work on a project focused on a contemporary problem in water resources (https://www.nelson.wisc.edu/graduate/water-resources-management/workshops.php).

Beginning in 2018, students and faculty in this workshop partnered with the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District to develop a strategic plan to reduce chloride ion levels in Madison's drinking water. The city regularly exceeds the standards for chloride ion concentration in water, with anthropogenic activities most likely to blame. The research team is analyzing road salt use on campus to determine a safer and more sustainable way to use salt, a likely culprit.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
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 Purchasing:

The Green Events student team at the Office of Sustainability works to reduce the environmental impact of events on campus. Student interns partner with clients throughout the process of planning and running an event to provide guidance for sustainability-related improvements in six categories: Venue, Decor, Communications, Transportation, Food, and Waste.

These categories all focus on purchasing sustainably-sourced products. For example, student interns work with event organizers to identify opportunities to buy reusable products, recyclable / compostable products, or items made from recycled materials (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/certifications/green-events/).


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:

Urban and Regional Planning 590 (Contemporary Topics in Urban and Regional Planning, 1-3 credits) examines special issues or problems in urban and regional planning and development. In Spring 2018 this course partnered with the Office of Sustainability (OS) to evaluate current programs and to design new ones to improve the sustainability of transportation to and within campus. Programs evaluated by students included bus electrification and implementation of a bike lending facility. The OS staff and interns are considering these for incorporation into future initiatives.


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:

- The Green Office student team at the Office of Sustainability helps campus offices of any size to become more sustainable workplaces through a three-step certification process. The program is designed to give UW–Madison employees the information and tools they need to learn about sustainability, better understand the impacts of their practices, and create healthy and sustainable work environments.

The first step of the certification process requires an office to improve waste and recycling practices, including:
- Improved waste and recycling bin locations and signage
- Educated office employees on waste collection practices
- Set-up collection systems for specialty waste products (e.g., batteries, print cartridges, small electronics, etc.)
- Set printers to default to double-sided printing
- Offer reusable dishes and silverware

(https://sustainability.wisc.edu/certifications/greenoffice/).

- In Spring 2018, students in Life Sciences Communications 515 (Public Information Campaigns and Programs, 3 credits) completed qualitative and quantitative social science research about waste practices at College Library. The students found that a majority of College Library visitors cared about recycling, and moreover believed that they knew what items belonged in which bins. Unfortunately they were often mistaken. These efforts led to the development of new waste signage (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/recycle-right/) at College Library.

- The Office of Sustainability Green Events program (described under Purchasing) also addresses issues of waste.


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:

- The water efficient toilets project from Civil and Environmental Engineering 421 and the Green Fund at the Office of Sustainability (described under Buildings) also addresses issues around water.

- The Water Resources Management summer workshop (described under Grounds) also addresses issues around water.


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:

The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) is part of shared university governance. This group of ~50 elected or appointed students, 50 student employees, 12 professional staff members, and 200 student appointees is tasked with recommending university policies, budgets, and candidates for campus position vacancies. In consultation with the Office of the Chancellor, ASM also allocates student activity fees, and reviews and recommends changes to campus policies pertaining to student life, services, and interests (https://www.asm.wisc.edu/about-us/).

ASM has a standing Sustainability Committee that provides a medium for exchanging ideas and running campaigns pertaining to environmental sustainability across the UW-Madison campus. The goal of this committee is to advocate for administrative and operational changes related to environmental stewardship, and ultimately create a more sustainable campus (https://kb.wisc.edu/page.php?id=85556). In FY18, members of this committee coordinated efforts with faculty and staff to create a sustainability course attribute.


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:

Students who work with the Multicultural Student Center (MSC) develop and lead workshops and trainings on social sustainability topics. Presented to students, staff, and faculty, these workshops explore areas such as privilege, social justice, power, microagressions and environmental justice. Students giving and participating in these workshops learn how diversity is an inherent part of sustainability. In the area of environmental justice, students learn how underprivileged communities are often hurt most by activities like waste treatment and utility generation (https://msc.wisc.edu/workshops-trainings/).


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
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 Investment & Finance:

The Green Fund at the Office of Sustainability supports student-initiated projects that reduce the environmental footprint and operating costs of on-campus facilities in the areas of 1) solid waste, 2) energy, and 3) water conservation. While the Green Fund is not a revolving fund, cost savings and return on investment are important considerations in the proposal evaluation process. All projects awarded funds through the Green Fund (including the solar array described under Energy and water-efficient toilet project described under Buildings) included the development of a financial business case.


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:

The Water Resources Management summer workshop (described under Grounds) also addresses issues of Public Engagement. Students working on the project are conducting interviews with city and community stakeholders to better understand areas for potential attitude change.


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:

University Health Services (UHS, https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/) typically employs around 30 students to work on their prevention team. Both undergraduate and graduate students on the prevention team work on programs addressing wellness, mental health, substance abuse prevention, health equity, and violence prevention across campus. Additionally, UHS partners with two courses on campus, Social Work 672 (Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare, 2-3 credits) and Counseling Psych 300 (Counseling and Counseling Psychology, 1-4 credits) to provide guidance and direction for the university's UWell program (https://uwell.wisc.edu/).


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:

Southern Wisconsin and the Madison area (including the UW-Madison campus) is home to one of the highest concentrations of first nations mound building in the US. Regular walking tours of the mounds in and around campus take place throughout the year and are open to everyone (students, staff, faculty, and the community). Those who participate on the tours learn about the history of the area, the story of the people, and the hard-fought sustained culture of those who first lived here (https://www.education.wisc.edu/soe/news-events/events/2018/09/21/default-calendar/the-uw-madison-first-nations-cultural-landscape-tour).


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives 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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.