Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 61.15
Liaison Ashley Woolman
Submission Date April 8, 2022

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Sara Phillips
Director of the Leadership, Engagement & Development (LEAD) Office; Director of Orientation
Student Affairs
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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 Campus Engagement?:
Yes

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

Solar wheelchair & e-bike station and solar on Kelley Hall (students learn about solar operations)
Rocket composter is attached to a data monitor that tracks energy consumption and temperatures
Native gardens educate students on local flora and xeriscape practices
Long-term weather monitoring data system on Signal peak
Rady building and geothermal energy source


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:

Whether via conferences (e.g., Headwaters & Colorado Outdoor Educators' Symposium, guest speakers, public policy forums, living-learning communities, or a variety of other engagement avenues, students are expected to step outside the classroom to engage with diverse people and challenging issues.


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:

Currently, undergraduate and graduate students are conducting an audit on energy use and emissions associated with two buildings on campus on which renovations are about the begin; the results will help inform where/how we want to use a the pool of voluntary student renewable energy generation fund donations (PV or thermal). Several years ago, an interactive energy use and solar generation kiosk.


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:

We have 7 LEED buildings on campus with associated signage; various courses provide tours for students. As well, Western Ambassadors (i.e., tour guides) tell prospective students about the buildings. Please also see above.


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:

All students are provided the opportunity to donate $15/semester to the renewable energy fund. A PV panel on campus is linked to an educational kiosk. Faculty may contribute to a renewable energy fund. Undergraduates, graduates, faulty and staff are currently investigating the best use of renewable energy fund $ re: solar PV or thermal on one of two buildings being renovated to LEED level. Each year, green energy is purchased through the city of Gunnison.


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:

Western just received a $140,000 grant to install a Rocket Composter in conjunction with campus dining services provider, Sodexo. Sodexo employs signage to bring awareness to students re: local products (defined as within Colorado). A students is employed to help students put the correct items into the compost, which then goes through a pulper and into the Rocket. Academic course will visit the Rocket Composter to learn about the process and some discuss the reasons for tray-less dining (e.g., reduced water consumption due to not washing trays, less food waste). One-to-two students will also be employed to ensure the smooth running of the Rocket, which is tricky in Gunnison's sub-zero winter temperatures.


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:

Native gardens and drought-resistant plants surround LEED building, one native garden on campus has interpretive signage. Students are currently working on a proposal for compost tea.


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:

A group of students created a Socially- and Environmentally-responsible purchasing plan, which passed the Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate.


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:

Little can/has been done with the state fleet. However, there is a bike library that is a collaborative effort between LEAD Sustainability and the Library. There are bike racks at each building, and skateboard racks at the University Center.


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:

Recycling centers centrally located in each campus building, a recycling station centrally located outdoors on campus (which the broader community is also welcome to use), composting in dining hall - almost all of which were initiated by students and used by faculty to enhance the learning in their classrooms.


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:

Water bottle fillers on all water fountains that can be retrofitted, no water in vending machines because the tap water is some of the best in the country, watering lawns at dawn and dusk, so as to prevent as much evaporation.


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:

There are student representatives on Faculty Senate, Sustainability Fund, Sustainability Action Committee, hiring committees, etc. Further, any new building - renovations and new builds - have student representation.


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:

We have a Multicultural Center that provides a supportive community for minorities and those wanting to support such groups; they put on events and host guest speakers, etc.


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:

Students are currently working with Finance & Administration for the feasibility and finance of installing a solar garden, in collaboration with the city & county.


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 campus has a Wellness Center associated with Exercise and Sports Science. The Leadership, Engagement, and Development (LEAD) Office employs graduate and undergraduate orientation leaders, as well as sustainability coordinators.


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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