Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.27
Liaison Jane Stewart
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

Washington and Lee University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Nicole Poulin
Campus Garden Manager
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:

The Student Environmental Action League (SEAL) hosts several events during Campus Sustainability Month (and throughout the academic year) that encourage sustainable behaviors on campus. One specific project is a Weigh the Waste event at the main dining hall, where food waste is collected and reported out to the whole campus for that specific day.


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:

All Environmental Studies majors at Washington and Lee University are required to
take ENV 111 Environmental Service Learning. Environmental Service Learning is a one credit class where students engage in sustainability or environmental issues in the Rockbridge Area community. Projects taken on during the course of the class include partnerships with the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council, Boxerwood Nature Preserve, Natural Bridge State Park, and other opportunities to engage the community on issues of sustainability. Students also gather for one hour every week to discuss their involvement and sustainability issues.

In the 2020/2021 school year, 11 students worked with Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC) and 2 students worked with Boxerwood Nature Center, a local environmental education facility.


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:

Most Geology lab courses include a weekly lab that is conducted outdoors where
students learn about the geology of the area over time, including how varying climates including modern global climate change have altered the local geology. Students also observe how varying air compositions over time impact the local geology. During the Spring Term, Geology classes meet 9-5 Monday through Friday with these labs being conducted outside for the majority of the day. Much of the lab work is conducted on W&L's campus in areas such as Paniel Farm, Woods Creek, and the on-campus woodlands.


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:

ENV 220 was taught in spring 2020: Campus Sustainability Consulting and LEED Expertise. Using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems and working alongside sustainability consultants, students investigate the W&L campus grounds and facilities and develop detailed action plans for the university, in order to meet sustainability and climate goals and maximize credits toward a LEED Campus designation. The consulting teams present their findings to decision makers in order to assist W&L in achieving LEED Silver Certification or better for all new construction and major renovations.


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:

Both Global Climate Change and Sustainability Accounting students have worked with the Energy Specialists to use our energy dashboard to gather information and create energy models for the campus.

A work study student is working with Jane Stewart (our Energy Specialist). He assists with identifying campus energy and water use trends, especially in campus housing, and use reduction strategies. Other roles include updating utility consumption and cost data on our public energy dashboard, developing and reviewing communications materials for students on energy and water conservation, creating dashboard pages of our university energy dashboard, and assisting in the planning of student engagement initiatives, including energy reduction competitions.

2019-2020 ENV Capstone project - Analysis of Renewable energy at Washington & Lee University


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 Campus Garden is used by many different classes and for different types of research on campus. Students have used the campus garden as a living laboratory to learn more about nutrition, growing food, regenerative agriculture, and engaging in a sustainable food system. Recent classes have included Food for Thought (2018-2019 school year), ENV 111 Service Learning (continuous every school year), Regenerative Agriculture (2019-2020 school year), and Fieldwork in Education (2019-2020 school year).

In addition, ENV-295A Holocene food system (2019-2020): This course examines special topics in environmental studies, such as ecotourism, the environment and development, local environmental issues, values and the environment, global fisheries, global climate change, tropical deforestation and similar topics of importance, which could change from year to year. This is a research-intensive course where the student would be expected to write a significant paper, either individually or as part of a group, of sufficient quality to be made useful to the scholarly and policy communities.

#HungerFighters is a group of first year students committed to learning more about the causes and consequences of food insecurity through the combination of direct service and educational opportunities. #HFs participate in a year-long educational development program consisting of speakers, documentary screenings, and topical discussions. In order to ground these experiences students also commit to working with W&L Campus Kitchen on at least one regular shift each week. This combination of direct service and education forms a complementary relationship in which each component informs the other.


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:

We are lucky to have a large number of acres on the W&L campus, including a "farm" (not operating farm, but so it's named) and Woods Creek. A lot of courses and research projects use these areas as "living labs". For example, a 2020-2021 ENV Capstone project calculated the carbon sequestration potential of Peniel Farm (soil). Another Capstone project during the same timeframe examined the extent of stream exclusion and water quality in 3 watersheds in Rockbridge County, including Woods Creek on 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:

This school year the Office of Sustainability have involved sustainability interns in researching W&L dining food and beverage purchasing. They are assisting in researching if the products and farms they come from are certified "sustainably-sourced."


IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
No

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

During the current school year 2021-2022, the sport teams at W&L have engaged in environmental work to offset their carbon admission from traveling. Students learn about ways that they can counterbalance their carbon footprint from their travels. The Associate Professor of PE and student athletes worked with community-based program, COREworks (COREworks mission is to accelerate local earth care actions through operation of an innovative carbon offset marketplace) to develop a fundraising plan that would have essentially raised enough finds to offset our carbon emissions for Athletics team travel, but coaches were uncomfortable asking athletes to raise money. So, instead Athletics pivoted to participating in earth actions as a way to raise awareness for COREworks and volunteering towards projects that generate quantifiable emission-reduction offsets, verified as metric tons of carbon emissions equivalent (MTCO2eq) prevented or sequestered. This is not official research or coursework though, so it does not qualify for points for this section.


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:

Sustainability interns are involved in a waste audit for the whole university during the 2019/2020 school year. One student in particular is a member of our Waste Minimization Task Force, and is doing substantial work on waste audits and understanding our waste and procurement systems. She compiled and reported on the results for her end-of-the-year capstone project.


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:

During the Water Resources and Hydrology courses, students keep track of their water usage for at least a full week of time. In order to finish the project, students must determine how much water is used during showers depending on their showerhead and water source, toilets, and other appliances. Additionally, in every introductory biology course and many geology courses, students interact with local streams, one of which flows through campus (Woods Creek) to count benthic macroinvertebrates and use other methods to determine the health of local water sources.

2019-2020 ENV Capstone project - Woods Creek Constructed Wetland Analysis


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:

Two to three students are also assigned to be representatives on the University Sustainability Committee every year, which aims to lead the university community in education and action toward sustainability. The USC wrote a submission for the strategic planning process, which included the voice of our student representatives at the time.

We also involve sustainability interns in gathering data for this report.


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 University Committee on Inclusiveness and Campus Climate (UCICC) reports to the President and is charged to provide guidance to the President and other members of the university as we build a supportive, inclusive and diverse community and create a climate open and welcoming to persons from diverse backgrounds. The committee represents the views of students, staff, administration, and faculty and was created to help the University fulfill its institutional values that stress the importance of the individual and respect for others. Each year the committee produces an annual report on our campus climate, especially with respect to inclusiveness and diversity, that charts the university's progress on key longitudinal measures."

Additionally, students were assigned to sit on the Commission on Institutional History and Community. "President Dudley charged the commission "to lead us in an examination of how our history — and the ways that we teach, discuss, and represent it —shapes our community." He directed the commission to examine "how we can best present our physical campus to take full advantage of its educational potential in a manner that is consistent with our core values." He instructed the commission to "create various opportunities to engage in conversation with all corners of the community," and to "meet with existing groups whose ongoing work relates to some of these issues, including the Working Group on the History of African-Americans at W&L, the University Committee on Inclusiveness and Campus Climate, and the University Collections of Art and History Advisory Committee.""


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

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

Investment club may be designating some funds towards "green" investments.


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:
---

Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
---

Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

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.