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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.62
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 11, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Auburn University
IN-3: Innovation 3

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Amy Strickland
Program Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
On-Demand Aquaculture Initiative

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Auburn’s Aquaculture Initiative is a collaboration involving Campus Dining, Horticulture and Fisheries that highlights alternative, more sustainable growing methods. Currently, tilapia are growing in a tank that provides water and nutrients to a hydroponic greenhouse, where cucumbers are being grown. This particular design minimizes power usage by utilizing an air lift system, that operates like a siphon, to perform some of the filtering for the tilapia tank without using an electric pump. In addition, water use is optimized in the closed loop system.
The real innovation, however, is in how the fish are harvested. Normal aquaculture operations done in ponds or tanks, in a commercial environment, harvest all of their fish at once and truck them to a processor where they are frozen and shipped out to the market. The AU system is set up to produce fish for weekly consumption, so that the fish can be harvested in small batches, processed locally, never frozen, and served fresh. This eliminates the carbon emissions needed to ship the fish hundreds of miles, freeze them, and then keep them frozen. It also shows that when you produce and harvest locally the end user gets a higher quality product. In addition to being able to provide campus dining facilities with the freshest possible fish, Auburn researchers are utilizing the water from the tanks to grow algae that is being studied as an alternative fuel source. Ultimately the system is a showcase of how farming can be done in a smaller footprint with less energy usage and provide high-value, nutrient-dense foods that consumers love to eat.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

The project is projected to meet 100% of campus demand for tilapia, and supplements a portion of the cucumber demand on campus. Future plans for scaling the system include adding a variety of vegetables to supplement demand from campus dining operations.

The project funds a graduate research assistantship position that oversees the operation of the system, and allows for research into system efficiencies and alternative fuels. Future plans include additional research on nutrition and fish/vegetable combinations, as well as working with Extension to utilize the AU system as a aquaculture model for Alabama farmers.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum ---
Research Yes
Campus Engagement ---
Public Engagement ---
Air & Climate ---
Buildings ---
Dining Services Yes
Energy ---
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water ---
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
---

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:
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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.