Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 59.88
Liaison Alex Frank
Submission Date April 14, 2022

STARS v2.2

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 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:

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 Ho-Chunk people, and the hard-fought sustained culture of those who first lived here. These tours and additional teachings are also incorporated into a first year student interest group (https://news.wisc.edu/native-november-in-new-first-year-interest-group-students-connect-with-the-land-through-indigenous-lens/).


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:

This Engaging Youth in Reimagining School Food project uses community-based participatory research conducted in collaboration with undergraduate students enrolled in CSCS 375: Human Ecology of Food and Sustainability, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), and youth-serving community organizations to uplift the perspectives of MMSD students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The team engages both UW-Madison students and K-12 students in the process of collecting data, analyzing data, and making recommendations for how to reimagine MMSD’s school food program and cafeterias in ways that promote student belonging and contribute to building sustainable and healthy school communities. This effort was partially funded by a grant from the Morgridge Center for Public Service (https://morgridge.wisc.edu/faculty-and-staff-get-connected/community-based-research/cbr-grants/)


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:

Climate Solutions Workshops run by the Wisconsin Energy Institute (https://energy.wisc.edu/climate-solutions-workshops) are designed for campus and community partners to hold an interactive and engaging conversation on climate solutions. The workshops are built upon the use of En-ROADS, which is a free, easy-to-use, online, interactive simulation model that allows users to test climate change solutions such as energy supply, economic growth, land use and other policies in order to deepen our understanding of how these systems interact, and to spur climate action. Multiple workshops have been held both for campus and community members, as well as one designed specifically for K-12 educators.


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:

Every semester students in environmental Studies 126 (https://ils.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/135/2020/09/ENVIR-ST_ILS-126-Syllabus-FA20-Lindstrom.pdf) study the impacts of a building LED installation.

In July 2013, the facilities management staff at Union South Switched the stage lights from halogen bulbs to light emitting diode LED lamps. In a lab exercise students look at the incentives behind the switch, the benefits facilities staff hope to enjoy with the switch, and what can it teach them about energy efficiency and sustainability in general.


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:

Every semester students in environmental Studies 126 (https://ils.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/135/2020/09/ENVIR-ST_ILS-126-Syllabus-FA20-Lindstrom.pdf) take a tour and perform energy calculations using data provided by the Charter Street Heating and Cooling Plant. The goal of these lessons is for students to analyze UW-Madison's carbon footprint and energy use for the creation of high pressure steam and chilled water.


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:

Students in the Environmental Studies Capstone Course (https://nelson.wisc.edu/undergraduate/environmental-studies-major/capstone-courses/) on campus worked on creating a Life Cycle Assessment for the different types of Kale purchased by university dining to measure environmental impact. Students studied kale from on campus hydroponic tower gardens, local organic farms, and national level producers.


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:

With support and collaboration from Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, students developed a green fund project to implement several test plots of bee-friendly lawns (growing clovers and other small, short, native, pollinator-friendly plants that can be mowed) that would span about a half acre on the UW-Madison main campus. This would create a habitat for pollinators on campus and a place to educate those on campus about the importance of pollinators. These plots will be test plots with the intent to increase the amount of these bee-friendly spaces across campus.


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 Fair Trade University campaign at UW-Madison aimeds to critically assess UW-Madison's role as a global consumer. Focusing on the goods purchased and sold on campus the Fair Trade University campaign engaged students through committing to fair trade events, curriculum and with student governance passing a resolution in support of the initiative. On October 7, 2021, UW–Madison was designated as a Fair Trade University, making it just the second school in the Big Ten to attain this status (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/uw-madison-designated-as-a-fair-trade-university/).


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:

Students in the Spring 2021 Urban and Regional Planning 590 (Contemporary Topics in Urban and Regional Planning) conducted analysis of the greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant emissions of UW-Madison's fleet of campus-owned vehicles. The work identified and quantified the potential impact of strategies to reduce the fleet's emissions. Students analyzed data from UW-Madison Transportation Services and used the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool. They assessed strategies including the right-sizing of the vehicle fleet, fleet electrification, reducing vehicle-miles of travel, reducing vehicle idling, and using alternative fuels.


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 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 2021, five students, including three OS interns, joined the Zero Waste Atlas Fellowship (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/students-join-zero-waste-atlas-fellowship/). Students were trained to assess UW's capacity to achieve zero waste. Students conducted in-depth interviews with campus representatives to gather information on current waste mitigation and management practices. As part of the fellowship, UW-Madison was granted a one-year membership to the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) which offers discounts for products and services that foster zero waste program success, digital resources, events, and certification programs (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/post-landfill-action-network-membership-offers-benefits-for-uw-madison-community/).


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:

In 2020, a cohort of master's students in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Water Resources Management Program developed a blueprint for salt sustainability on campus (https://nelson.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/wrm-report-2019.pdf). Students gathered data about salt use on campus and identified reduction opportunities, including replacing water softeners, establishing a new outdoor salt use policy, and reducing the amount of salt in salt/sand mixtures from 10 to 5 percent. They proposed aligning UW-Madison's salt practices with the strategies of Wisconsin Salt Wise, which campus is currently in the process of undertaking.


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 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 the 2020-21 academic year, representatives from campus administration, shared governance, and the student body formed the Sustainability Advisory Council to provide recommendations to the Provost and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration on how to align the university's mission, current campus strategic plans, the 2010 Sustainability Initiative Task Force Report, and the Second Nature Resilience Commitment (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/sustainability-advisory-council/). The recommendations sought to fulfill aspects of resolutions passed by campus governance bodies. The council offered online listening sessions, including two for students only, and allowed for feedback through a survey.


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:

During the 2020-21 academic year, the student-led Social Sustainability Coalition within Office of Sustainability held the Amplifying BIPOC Voices in Sustainability Series which highlighted the work of one or more UW-Madison BIPOC community members engaging with sustainability (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/student-intern-program/social-sustainability-coalition/amplifying-bipoc-voices-in-sustainability-series/#what-does-amplifying-look-like-9-30-20). Topics included food systems and reinvestment after divestment. Students provided resources to read, watch, listen to, and follow on social media platforms. The program continued through the 2021-22 academic year.


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:

The Green Fund at the Office of Sustainability (https://sustainability.wisc.edu/greenfund/) supports student-initiated projects that reduce the environmental footprint and operating costs of on-campus facilities in the areas of solid waste, energy, and 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 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:

UW-Madison Recreation and Wellbeing offers peer wellness coaching (https://recwell.wisc.edu/peercoaching/). Wellness circle meetings led by two NASPA-certified Peer Educators are conducted once a week for four weeks at locations around campus include mindfulness practice, a mini-lesson on wellbeing, reflection time, discussion, wellness coaching, and goal setting. The program is centered around the seven aspects of wellbeing: health, meaning, safety, connection, growth, achievement, and resiliency.


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.