Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.39
Liaison Phil Valko
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

Washington University in St. Louis
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Cassandra Hage
Sustainability 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:

Campus Eco-challenge - Students select and commit to 21-days of sustainability and climate related tasks that include health, justice, simplicity, healing, along with the more traditional waste, food, transportation, energy, and water tracks. The challenge provides opportunities for students to learn about the impact of their actions, encourages students to connect their actions with their values, and creates a profile of impact from their selected actions.

WashU Climate Change Program Climate Associate - focus on community outreach and communications, plans and hosts events in collaboration with other student groups like Climate Conversations and Monthly Climate Forums.

Office of Sustainability Team: Engagement Specialist student associates support a range of programs specifically focused on campus engagement.


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 Studies - Sierra Club Grassroots Organizer Intern - communicating environmental and public health issues and policy impacting the local community to students, professors, and campus organizers. Recruit and train volunteers on grassroots organizing and enlist and engage to push campaign objectives.

Environmental Studies - Metropolitan Congregations United Environmental Justice Intern for EJ Organizing Campaign. Assist with outreach to strengthen relationships with local congregations, clergy leaders in North County and North City. Help pilot an air quality monitoring program at New Northside in partnership with the Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering and the Environmental Studies program at WashU.

Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic: Advocating for Clean Closure of Coal Ash Ponds On behalf of LEO and Sierra Club, the Clinic is advocating for strong state and federal regulations governing coal ash management and disposal in the face of the Trump Administration’s regulatory rollbacks.

Sustainability Exchange - Forest Park Living Lab Book - Students engage with STL community members through Forest Park Forever, the City of St Louis, WashU Alumni and Development Personnel and contribute to creation of book highlighting ecology, biodiversity, cultural and natural history of Forest Park by providing content, writing, and editing text. Students learn about the publishing process, how to market and sell a creative work product.

Sustainability Exchange - Redeveloping University City's Municipal Sustainability Plan. Gathering input from staff, citizens, regional experts, University City's Green Practices Commission, and researching municipal code existing plans, and broader best practices. Students created a Sustainability Strategic Plan to present to the City Council for adoption.

Midwest Climate Summit Interns - These student interns supported the planning of the Fall 2020 Summit, which engaged over 1,300 individuals from throughout the 12-state Midwest.


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:

Office of Sustainability Teams: Carbon Neutrality Student Associates support advisory of committee charged with proposing pathways towards an ambitious, science based 2030 carbon reduction goal and strategy. EV Student Associates support efforts to expand EV charging infrastructure and transition the vehicle fleet to electric and/or lower emissions vehicles.

International Climate Negotiations Seminar is a capstone course designed to prepare students to attend and observe annual meetings associated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a delegate of Washington University. The course and meetings provide student delegates with a unique educational experience to observe the development of international climate policy through interdisciplinary negotiations and interactions inside the negotiating space. Students see the interaction between climate policy, science and technology as they identify and analyze policy decisions across the international climate regime.


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:

Office of Sustainability Team: Sustainable Buildings Student Associate works with the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Planning and Management supervisor to further improve how sustainability is integrated into the design and construction of campus infrastructure. Projects topics involve construction waste diversion standards, plug and process load planning, thermal comfort, healthy building material standards, and various green building certification systems.

Sustainability Exchange Capstone Course: Mitigating Bird Collisions on Campus in Partnership with St. Louis Zoo. Students monitor and document problem areas, educate the campus community, and take birds needing medical attention to the Wild Bird Rehabilitation. Students will research and present mitigation methods for bird collisions.

Green Rehab Project:
The Green Rehab Experiment is a multi-year, interdisciplinary research project focused on the comprehensive sustainable renovation of off-campus student housing that is owned and managed by Washington University’s subsidiary, Quadrangle Housing: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/items/green-rehab-project/


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:

Office of Sustainability Team: Renewable Energy Associate work with Office of Sustainability to explore renewable energy project opportunities including on-site solar PV and solar thermal projects, as well as off-site wind projects.

RESET: Renewable Energy and Decarbonizing the Grid - an experience-focused course providing in-depth understanding of the factors that are shaping the rapidly growing renewable energy industry, as well as the opportunities and challenges in the years ahead for decarbonizing the electric grid. In this interdisciplinary course focused on business, policy, and financial aspects of renewable energy, students will learn through classroom lectures from faculty, industry professionals, and policy-makers; group discussions; field trips to solar, wind, and fossil fuel power plants; and a final applied team-based project to propose new major solar photovoltaic arrays in the City of St. Louis. Past projects included a study and proposal for solar installs on campus (some of which were later implemented).


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:

Office of Sustainability Team: Strategic Planning Associates researched sustainable food procurement strategies, certifications and RFP language in preparation for vendor selection and contract negotiations of the university's food service provider. Research informed language that was ultimately include in the winning vendor's contract. (2021) This intern team also conducted zero waste research that informed the RFP for beverage pouring rights (2022).

Eco2go reusable to-go container research and rollout. Launched initially by WashU's chapter of Net Impact, the program was spread campus-wide when classes resumed in person during COVID. Office of Sustainability Summer Associates and Net Impact Members collaborated on program launch, logistics, marketing. Student Sustainability Board, WashU Green Ambassadors, and Student Environmental Council continue to meet with dining services to inform and develop eco2go services.


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:

Tyson Conservation Corp (TCC) - student intern leaders mentored by Tyson Field Research Station Staff Dr. Solny Adalsteinsson and Natural Resources Coordinator Elizabeth Biro work as a liaison between student volunteers and Tyson staff ecologists. TCC is dedicated to conservation and ecological restoration, hosting invasive species removal, large mammal and bat monitoring, flora and fauna inventory and monitoring, and prescribed burns observations at the Tyson Field Research Center.

Sustainability Exchange Capstone Course - Arboretum group - Students research, photography, and website development enabled the creation of an Arboretum database. Three concurrent semesters supported Level 1 and Level 2 Morton Arboretum applications.
trees.wustl.edu

Woody Plants of Missouri by Professor Stranton Braude Washington- Students study the biology of woody plants in the classroom and throughout WashU's Danforth Campus registered arboretum that is home to more than 4000 trees. Students learn woody plant systematics, physiology, and ecology as well as applied, and hands-on, techniques. Students collect forestry data, identify trees by leaf, bud, bark, fruit and crown. Students plant, propagate, and care for trees and other woody plants and contribute to the ongoing research in our arboretum and to the education of peers and campus visitors by adding new trees to the arboretum collection and by monitoring the campus trees as you learn to collect data on growth and phenology.

Sustainability Exchange: De-Icing Impacts on Campus with Focal Pointe. Students work with WashU and our landscaping company to understand impacts of ice melting strategies on various soil types on campus. Students develop a testing protocol, carry out sample collection, and develop treatment methods for soil.

Field Methods by Dr. Doug Ladd. Students learn practical and applied methods for environmental field work for site assessments, ecological studies, conservation, habitat monitoring, and ecological restoration. Students learn sources and techniques for obtaining and interpreting field data across a range of abiotic, organismal and system/community parameters, with emphasis on hands-on field experiences on WashU campus, the Tyson Field Research station, and other natural ecosystems. Students will gain direct knowledge highlighting the advantages and limitations of various methods. In the process, students will learn about multiple taxonomic and organismal groups and natural community types, and the relationships among these and the physical environment in functional natural systems.
https://enst.wustl.edu/field-methods-environmental-science


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:

Green Office Program & Waste Intern Teams: Research and participate in advocating for purchasing and procurement policies that decrease waste and increase energy efficiency.

Office of Sustainability Intern Team: Strategic Planning team created procurement guides with RFP and contract language for numerous commodities. Purchasing areas researched included paper, electronics, food, beverages, zero waste.


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:

Office of Sustainability Teams: Engagement Specialists and Alternative Transportation Associates carry out alternative transportation programing including bike tune-ups, planning events for active transportation month, and promoting transportation initiatives through tabling, flyers, and social media.

Net Impact students researched and presented findings to Office of Sustainability and Parking & Transportation to influence the approach to an upcoming RFP for shuttle service. As a result, the Office of Sustainability hired 2 students from the research team to continue to support the preparation for the RFP and vendor selection process. They have also assessed EV infrastructure for shuttles and across parking areas.


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:

Office of Sustainability Waste Diversion and Reduction Team: researches and supports numerous waste reduction and diversion initiatives:

- GreenWare Program - Reusable Dishware loan program that is open to all members of the WashU community to reduce disposable materials at smaller events (up to 150 attendees). Student interns manage communication, logistics, promotion, and work with dining staff to ensure cleaning of inventory.

- Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering Capstone course is studying and designing an anaerobic digestor that would work within the constraints of the university. They will present their findings.

- Students engage in multiple waste audits per year.


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:

Tyson Research Center has a 20,000 gallon rainwater collection system that provides irrigation for a 15,000 square foot research garden. This system is utilized by student researches on a regular basis.


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:

Office of Sustainability - Strategic Planning Associates research and analysis for developing the vision and goals for sustainability-related strategic planning. Specific areas of interest include energy & emissions, alternative transportation, waste, food & dining, and equity/anti-racism. Collected and integrated student and community feedback.

SU Carbon Neutrality Bill - Student Union Senators drafted and passed a bill calling for WashU to adopt ambitious carbon neutrality goals in the next strategic plan according to research from peer institutions.

SPARK retreat- week long sustainability leadership training program planned by Office of Sustainability Interns to bring together student delegates from a range of green groups to learn and network with other environmentally minded students. Several students led programs and volunteer opportunities in STL.


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:

Strategic Planning Team - Conducted research on DEI initiatives and strategic goals in different strategic plans. Created a database of different higher education institutions with different levels of DEI integration into sustainability strategic plans and presented recommendations to Office of Sustainability.

Latin American Race and Ethnicity Research Unit (L2) Research through the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity research (CrE^2) about Latin America and the Latinx diaspora. L2 supports learning opportunities across the University, STL region, and beyond to design research projects, frameworks, and programing that will serve the WashU community across all 7 schools. https://cre2.wustl.edu/research/cre2-research/latinx-latin-american-race-ethnicity-research-unit/

WashU and Slavery - Through the CRE^2 - WashU joined Universities Studying Slavery to examine the relationships between slavery, its legacies, and WashU. Created courses and research opportunities to engage students. https://cre2.wustl.edu/research/cre2-research/washuslavery/


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:

Sustainability Exchange: This experiential course has partnered with the Washington University Investment Management Company over two semesters to research and provide guidance related to ESG investing.

RESET: Renewable Energy and Decarbonizing the Grid. Students learn about renewable energy financing structures, exploring ones used at WashU and conducting a financial analysis and research of financing structures for the implementation of renewables at CORTEX, a non-profit innovation district co-founded by WashU.

Share Our Stuff Program Expansion: Office of Sustainability Interns worked with various campus stakeholders to put together a proposal to expand WashU's end of year donation program. The proposal included the creation of cost projections for various expansion strategies and reaching out to student business and procurement offices for cost analyses.


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:

Green Office Program - Run by Green Office Interns housed in the Office of Sustainability. Provides a framework and set of resources to encourage offices across all WashU's campuses to be champions of the university's sustainability ethic. Points are awarded for meeting lists of sustainable practices, and offices can achieve Green Office certifications.

Campus Ecochallenge includes a health section that allows participants to select actions such as learning about Environmental Justice Concerns, happiness, eating more fruits and veggies, exercise daily, get enough sleep and exercise. This section teaches the importance of personal and interpersonal relationships in environmentalism and encourages students to adopt habits for their wellbeing by awarding points for these actions.


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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There are many hands-on ways that students learn how to address real-world challenges that are explored through learning and research: two of which include the Sustainability Exchange and the Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic capstone courses.

The Sustainability Exchange is a course that brings together students working in trans-disciplinary teams to tackle real-world energy, environmental, and sustainability problems through an experiential form of education. Students participate in projects with clients and partners on- or off-campus, developed with and guided by faculty advisors drawn from across the University, with the intention of delivering an applicable end-product that requires innovative methods and solutions.

The team-based project is complemented by a seminar that explores the field of design and design thinking through problem solving strategies and methodologies drawn from a wide range of creative practices, including design, engineering and science, as well as contemporary topics in energy, environment, and sustainability. Students will draw on these topics to pursue their projects.

The Exchange is structured through a weekly hour-long seminar and the project-based work driven by the teams who meet during a dedicated lab time. The seminar is taught by numerous faculty including Bruce Lindsey, Dean of Architecture, and gives students an opportunity to learn design thinking which they can then apply to environmental problems. Each semester, the Exchange involves four or five teams with four or five students each from all over campus. Team projects include efforts such as assisting local cities develop climate change plans, proposing guidelines for urban agriculture, and designing more efficient energy operations for campus buildings.
https://enst.wustl.edu/exchange

The Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic (IEC) functions as a pro bono law practice handling environmental and community health cases.

IEC students engage in litigation and advocacy as part of an interdisciplinary team, which includes students from the schools of law, engineering, arts and sciences, public health, medicine, and occasionally business and architecture. Students develop their lawyering skills acting as the student attorneys in their cases and through extensive interaction with experienced IEC faculty.

IEC cases tackle some of the most challenging and important water, air, waste, climate change, and environmental justice problems in the region. In addition, students will learn about public interest law, as most clients are non-profit organizations and under-represented communities. The IEC works in Missouri and Illinois, and in some cases of national scope.

As much as possible, students are responsible for making key decisions and performing much of the “heavy lifting” in pursuit of client goals. Students experience the challenges and rewards of lawyering by stepping into the role as professionals in a supportive setting, with ongoing faculty feedback and assistance.
https://law.wustl.edu/academics/clinical-education-program/interdisciplinary-environmental-clinic/

The Energy, Sustainability and Climate Change (ESCC) Internship Program places students in research and project teams, while providing professional development and enrichment training. ESCC is a partnership between the Office of Sustainability, the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (InCEES), Washington University Climate Change Program (WUCCP), and the Environmental Studies Program and employs 28 students.

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.