Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 51.46
Liaison Bradley Flamm
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

West Chester University of Pennsylvania
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Bradley Flamm
Director of Sustainability
Office of the President
"---" 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:

Faculty in West Chester University's English, Art + Design, Anthropology & Sociology, Political Science, and other academic departments regularly use the Gordon Natural Area, the North Campus Outdoor Classroom, WCU's campus gardens, and other physical features of the campus for course assignments and class sessions. These assignments contribute to student learning in the humanities, physical sciences, and social sciences and result in direct contributions to the university with annual Research Day presentations, published creative writing, murals, and other organized student activities. See the attached document for more details.


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:

West Chester University students, in a campus-community partnership, serve as interns for four community organizations in Chester County, PA that work together as the West Chester Green Team (https://wcgreenteam.com/). In the summer of 2019, intern Courtney Bodle coordinated a tour of ten community gardens, including two on WCU's campus, that was attended by over 100 people from West Chester Borough, West Chester University, and Chester County. Campus gardens were used to demonstrate organic gardening techniques and to highlight opportunities for community members to work on shared goals and initiatives with WCU 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 Air & Climate?:
Yes

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

West Chester University's Gordon Natural Area (the GNA is a 135-acre wooded area on South Campus; see https://wcupa.edu/gordonnaturalarea/) is regularly used by full-time and adjunct faculty for courses that address issues related to climate change, air quality, and the natural processes that cycle carbon and water into, through, and from the atmosphere. Professors Joy Fritschle (Geography and Planning) and Jessica Schedlbauer (Biology), for example, have conducted research, in collaboration with student interns, to understand the carbon sequestration potential of WCU's campus trees, including those in the Gordon Natural Area.


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:

West Chester University has several LEED certified buildings (the Business and Public Management Center [BPMC], the Swope Music Building, and Mitchell Hall) and others built to LEED standards, but not certified (the Student Recreation Center and 25 University). The BPMC, Mitchell Hall, and the Swope Music Building have information kiosks and / or signage that provide information on the energy-efficiency and other sustainability features of the buildings which are used in classes for educational purposes. In the Fall of 2017, for example, a campus tour initiated by two Earth and Space Sciences professors featured Mitchell Hall and BPMC (see https://youtu.be/7SxRxWwkH38). Campus sustainability tours (conducted on an irregular basis that usually includes two to three per semester) regularly highlight these buildings.


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:

West Chester University uses its LEED certified buildings and others built to LEED standards to teach students about energy use on campus and the impacts on our carbon emissions. In addition, WCU's geo-exchange system (composed of a district-level system connected to a dozen campus buildings and several single-building systems) is regularly included in campus sustainability tours that students in specific courses and the general campus community attend. On October 19, 2019, the geo-exchange pumphouse was featured in the Chester County Clean Energy Tour (more than 30 members of the community toured the building and met with WCU's Energy Projects Manager, Mr. John Lattanze). And in the Fall of 2017 a campus sustainability tour featured the university's geothermal pump house, Mitchell Hall and BPMC (see https://youtu.be/7SxRxWwkH38).


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:

West Chester University's Outdoor Classroom and four campus gardens are regularly used by full-time and adjunct faculty for courses that address issues related to food production, food processing, and the disposal (via landfill and composting) of food and other green wastes. Some of these courses have students working to harvest and deliver vegetables to the campus's Resource Pantry (https://www.wcupa.edu/_services/stu.slv/pantry/default.aspx) where they are sometimes used for cooking demonstrations. Students have also been involved in two pilot programs to compost food wastes from WCU's main dining facility in Lawrence Hall (the most recent year-long pilot project ended in September 2017). Attached to this submission is a document describing faculty use of the Outdoor Classroom and the three campus gardens.


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:

West Chester University's Gordon Natural Area (the GNA is a 135-acre wooded area on South Campus; see https://wcupa.edu/gordonnaturalarea/), Outdoor Classroom, and four campus gardens are regularly used by full-time and adjunct faculty for courses that address issues related to climate change, air quality, water quality, storm water management, and the natural processes that cycle carbon and water into, through, and from the hydrosphere and atmosphere.


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
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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 West Chester University's Geography and Planning Department regularly use WCU's commuting and transportation systems in teaching and research. For example, students in an undergraduate / graduate Transportation Planning course (GEO 331 / 531) in Spring 2018 worked in groups to consider four aspects of the university's transportation system -- shared modes of transportation, non-motorized modes, car parking, and ridesharing. In the Fall of 2019, students in an undergraduate / graduate design studio studied strategies for improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety on campus and in surrounding communities. And a Fall 2019 Marketing Dept course (MKT 330, Professor Chun-Chen Wang) focused on WCU's Zagster bikeshare program; eight teams developed promotional campaigns for increasing membership and rides for the bikeshare system.


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:

West Chester University's Outdoor Classroom and campus gardens feature composting systems for green and food wastes which are used to teach about waste disposal systems and the importance of diverting materials from the waste-stream to reuse, recycling, and rotting (i.e. composting). The College of Business and Public Management in Fall 2019 installed two barrel crank composters outside of the BPMC building and are promoting their use for food scraps composting by students and building occupants and the benefits of composting rather than sending food waste to landfills.


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:

West Chester University's storm water management features (pervious pavers, green roofs, and underground cisterns), Gordon Natural Area, Outdoor Classroom, and campus gardens are used by faculty for courses that address issues related to water quality, storm water management, and the natural processes that cycle water into, through, and from the hydrosphere and atmosphere. A student intern, Mr. John Guerrero (Biology) has been employed by the Grounds Department in fall, spring, and summer semesters since 2018 to care for campus green roofs and he has conducted tours and presented research results from projects focused on these green roofs to campus and community audiences.


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

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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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:
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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 WCU student Wellness Ambassadors (https://www.wcupa.edu/_services/wellness/aboutUs.aspx)
received a working orientation to the north campus garden on August 22, 2019. Wellness Ambassadors, among their other activities, encourage physical and outdoor activities (on campus and off) to promote good health and wellbeing.
WCU's Outdoor Adventure Pursuits (OAP) program (https://www.wcupa.edu/_services/CampusRec/outdoorAdventure.aspx) links the university's educational mission to outdoor activities, on campus (at facilities such as the south campus Challenge Course and the Gordon Natural Area) and off. OAP coordinates trips and activities for students, staff, and faculty and connects their efforts to team-building, wellness, and sustainability goals of the university.


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Submitted by Bradley Flamm, Director of the Office of Sustainability, based upon information provided by Nur Ritter, Jessica Schedlbauer, Joan Welch, Ashlie Delshad, Chun-Chen Wang, Omalola Adewale, Steve Sassaman, and other campus colleagues.

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.