Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 54.15
Liaison Leslie North
Submission Date March 3, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Western Kentucky University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Christian Ryan
Sustainability Coordinator
WKU
"---" 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:

Students at WKU are engaged in a variety of academic and co-curricular activities related to air and climate, a few of which are described below:
Geosciences students are developing a methodology for measuring carbon sequestered by the campus forest.
Environmental science students are assisting with data collection and interpretation for the University greenhouse gas emissions inventory.
An interdisciplinary group of students are working collaboratively on a service project based on a continued partnership in which we exchange students and staff with the University of Akuyeri, Iceland for climate change research. The project is called the Tree of Change, and is built upon two apple trees, one on each campus, under which people come together to talk about climate change solutions.
An interdisciplinary group of students is assisting with the development of a Climate Action Plan for WKU


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:

Architectural and Manufacturing students have formed the student organization, USGBC students. The organization is focused on outreach and education activities that make the campus community aware of the features and benefits of our LEED certified buildings.
The Office of Sustainability is a small home that serves as a living lab where students may conduct sustainability related projects and research related to best practices in residences and landscape. For example, "Building a Better Office of Sustainability" was the title of a student's undergraduate Honor's Thesis in which he describes the sustainable improvements made to the house, such as insulation, efficient windows, insulated blinds, instant hot water heater, and other such features.


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:

Energy use on WKU's main campus is displayed on the Green Kiosk, a real time energy dashboard. The dashboard is used for by faculty in various courses and by students participating in energy conservation competitions in residence halls.
Engineering students have been engaged in measuring before and after efficiency at the Office of Sustainability as improvements have been made, such as door blower tests and thermal imaging.


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:

Social Work graduate students conducted research on food access and affordability on campus, and started the WKU Food Pantry to address food insecurity on campus. The Pantry has been in place for three years and continues to be student supported. Presently, a public relations and marketing class is developing a public relations package for the Pantry as their senior project.
In 2016, students have organized to initiate a food recovery program. They are developing a plan to recover leftover food from campus dining locations and distribute it to individuals experiencing food insecurity.


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:

Project Grow is a student organization and graduate research project that has developed a a community garden at the Office of Sustainability. They are engaged in developing the entire landscape as a demonstration of sustainable land use.
In 2015, WKU became a certified Arboretum. Most of our 2500 trees on the main campus have been labeled with informative signage. Additionally, a GIS student has inventoried each tree in a GIS program and created a webbased interactive map of our campus forest.


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:

Student Government Association in 2016 researched, wrote, and passed two bills: one for the elimination of styrofoam packaging on campus, specifically from retail food outlets, the other for transitioning to a paperless campus. To write appropriate legislation, they researched purchasing policy, history, and feasibility regarding these topics.


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:

Students involved in conducting the University greenhouse gas emissions inventory are involved in the creation of a survey to understand student, faculty, and staff commuting and transportation habits. The survey will not only provide data for the inventory, it allows for informed decisions regarding the encouragement of a car-free campus lifestyle.


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:

In 2015, a geosciences graduate student wrote his Master's thesis on waste diversion and minimization at WKU. The paper has since been published and it is used to inform decision making in our waste diversion program.
The SGA Sustainability Committee worked with dining services in 2016 to launch two waste reduction initiatives: reusable take out containers in the dining hall and no-bag default at the Subway franchises.
Students are engaged by the WKU Resource Conservation Coordinator in regular waste characterization studies throughout the semester.


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:

Students in the geosciences program study stormwater management in Karst landscapes, utilizing WKU as a case study.
In 2013, an Honors student conducted a rainwater collection feasibility study.


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:

Many of the student led projects described in this section can fall under coordination and planning, including the Tree of Change project, SGA policy legislation, the Sustainability Committee work with Dining to eliminate bags and takeout containers, and others.


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 have researched the topic of Renters' Rights, and have formed the Renters Rights Coalition to advocate for Renters' Rights of students who live off-campus.
SGA has collaborated with WKU Resource Conservation to trade volunteer hours for refurbished computers in the "Earn a Computer" program.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

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:
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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:

In 2015, an Environmental Science graduate student conducted her Masters thesis on the WKU Green Tour - ideas for improving effectiveness.
In 2016, student ambassadors began training to conduct campus Green Tours, to allow for the scheduling of more tours for visitors, classes, and other groups.
In 2016, a GIS student developed a web-based platform for the Green Tour, allowing for a virtual experience.


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:

The WKU Nutritionist works with Dietetics students on a variety of awareness activities related to the preparation of fresh, local food with cooking demonstrations and samples. Additionally, this group supports the WKU Food Pantry by creating recipes utilizing Food Pantry staples, such as canned corn and beans to create a balanced meal.


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:

Several students are engaged in assisting with data collection and interpretation for AASHE STARS as interns or for course projects.
In fall 2016 Environmental Ethics students are developing a sustainability values and behaviors survey for the campus community. They plan to conduct the survey in early 2017.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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.