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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 Gold
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Alison Miller
Deputy Executive Director
Earth Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---
Public Engagement Yes
Other Yes

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University offers a number of programs in climate, and houses close to 100 PhD level climatologists. Three examples are listed below.

The Columbia Climate Center has created "Future Coast" a community-based, participatory “what if?” game that explores the implications of our possible climate-changed futures. Participants can you create a voicemail that sounds as though it was recorded in 2021 or 2035 or 2048? In these voicemails, participants express how extreme weather, sea level rise, and changing ecosystems might affect their lives in the future.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Yes, the University is engaged in the Built Environment, through its Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the various sustainability education programs.

For example, SUMAK4119: Empirical Approaches to Building Energy Assessment supplements modeling and spread sheet-based approaches to energy assessment with developing students' ability to see, hear and sense how thermal and electrical energy interfaces with our social and building practices. They work with tool kits that include digital data trackers (temperature, humidity and light sensors), remote surface temperature sensors and instruments to track building insolation (the amount of sunlight that a building receives). They also develop occupant surveys and forensic techniques for deciphering legacy construction in the building envelope and building systems. They deploy open source software to assist in calculating building envelope transmissivity, alternate models for building energy inputs and other data. Their focus for this work is local, on Columbia's campus, and its work compliments the more generalized building assessments already completed for many campus buildings.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The EcoReps are working with Columbia Dining to conduct plate scrapings and better the recycling stations in the dining halls.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Yes, courses, projects and research across all areas of energy are incorporated throughout the University. The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and the Sustainable Engineering Lab, and the Center on Global Energy Policy are all engaged in such projects with students, faculty, external partners and the general public.

Students in the 'Pedal 2 Power' project will measure the energy from a stationary bike in order to bring light to how much human energy it takes to charge a battery, and also show how much energy is wasted.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Columbia is constantly adding new hybrid and electric vehicles to its fleet as older vehicles reach their end of life.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The 'Cup It' project which is offered through the University's Green Fund Program involves using regular waste audits to inform students to how properly dispose of trash.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students involved in the Columbia Water Mark Initiative, offered through the University's Green Fund Program, analyze water use in Furnald Residence Hall (including fixtures, flow rates, and meters) to conduct an energy audit to inform an education campaign around water conservation.

The Columbia Aquanauts is a student club formed to create awareness and address the issues of water scarcity and the lack of availability of safe clean drinking water. The club engages students and faculty from various disciplines at Columbia’s undergraduate and graduate schools to tackle some of the most pressing global water challenges, through research both on and off the field.

A team at the Engineering School and the Urban Design Lab is working on a research project, concentrating on developing high-performance green infrastructure to mitigate coastal zone pollution and flooding, with a focus on the Bronx River Sewershed in New York City as their living test bed. They will be creating tools to raise awareness and educate the community about its local green infrastructure. Curriculum material will also be developed for a summer high school program that will be run in conjunction with Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Sustainability Advisory Committee, largely responsible for creating the governance structure for sustainability on campus, allows an undergraduate and graduate student to sit on the committee to actively work toward creating a structure for Columbia.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The robust social media presence of the sustainability office and students allows for public engagement on campus with students to be seen as working in a living lab.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The University Green Fund allows students to use campus as a living lab in whatever way they'd like, as long as they can create a measurable, visible project from their idea.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:

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.