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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 58.08
Liaison Kristi Wiedemann
Submission Date March 13, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Princeton University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Shana Weber
Director
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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 Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation No
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment No
Public Engagement No
Other No

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:

In April 2010, Civil and Environmental Engineering assistant professor Elie Bou-Zeid placed a series of solar-powered monitoring stations around campus. Assisted by his students, Dr. Bou-Zeid used these sensors to record variances in temperatures, humidity, wind, and rainfall over 18 months. This data became a map of Princeton’s urban microclimate, creating a clearer picture of how building materials and vegetation interact with the local climate.


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:

In 2014, Eric Teitelbaum ’14 worked with Professors George Scherer and Forrest Meggers to complete his thesis, “Evaporative Cooling on Building Surfaces Through a Microporous Hydrophobic Membrane.” Through steady-state analysis of a proposed cooling system for building exterior walls, cooling capacity was shown to exceed cooling loads for large indoor areas. Real data acquired for Princeton, NJ from July 2011 was inputted to simulations to quantify behavior of the system under real conditions. Even in the humid climate of New Jersey in July, the system could at the very least supplement a conventional cooling system, and at the most was demonstrated to effectively cool interior spaces to a 20 °C thermostat set point.


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:

Beginning in 2011, Campus Dining and the Princeton Environmental Institute partnered to hire interns to determine the relative carbon footprint of food items served in campus dining halls. This information is accessible through the iPrinceton mobile application and the Campus Dining website (https://campusdining.princeton.edu/dining/_Foodpro/location.asp). On these menus, food items are marked with green, yellow, and red icons that are determined by the level of their greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, items are marked with the Office of Sustainability logo if they are “earth friendly entrees,” which are often sourced locally or third-party certified. These interns have calculated the relative carbon footprint of over 1,000 food items so far.


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:

In 2013, Tarun Sinha ’13 completed the senior thesis, “Resource Optimization in the Princeton University Energy System.” The thesis focused on optimization of resource purchase and allocation decisions in the Princeton Energy Plant in order to meet loads economically. The thesis also included simulations of scenarios where the size of the University was increased and where taxes on carbon dioxide emissions were imposed.


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:

Between 2009 and 2014, Dr. Eileen Zerba, former senior lecturer in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University, conducted research with students on the Butler College green roof system and assessed various energy- and stormwater-related performance factors as compared to a conventional roof. In most cases, research to date has shown that for light to moderate rain events, the green roof delays, lowers the rate, and reduces the volume of stormwater runoff, compared to the conventional roof. Research to date has also shown significantly smaller variability and peak values in surface temperature for the green roof as compared to the conventional roof.


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:

In 2013, the Office of Sustainability hired three interns who studied the Office’s DrinkLocal program. The Drink Local interns – Dora Demszky ’17, Graham Turk ’17, and Reka Zempleni ’16 – completed a study to gauge awareness of the 190+ campus filtered water stations and the importance of the DrinkLocal water bottles that the Office of Sustainability provides to incoming freshmen. Although the results indicated that the majority of students don’t use their DrinkLocal bottle, other responses provided information about improvements that the Office can make to the program, such as providing a space for students to write their names on their bottles, thus giving the program a higher return-on-investment/environment. The Office will begin implementing these changes in the 2015 school year. Additionally, 88% of students surveyed stated that the water bottles are worth the investment and that the University should continue to provide them to all freshmen, suggesting that there is still a high demand for the DrinkLocal water bottles.


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:
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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:

In 2014, for his senior thesis, Andrew Calof ’14 studied how waste-to-energy technology can assist Princeton to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions economically. Through an extensive literature review and in talking to numerous industrial professionals, including University staff, Calof chose three companies’ waste-to-energy technologies to analyze. At the culmination of his thesis, Calof chose wet thermal conversion as the best technology for Princeton to pursue, because it would result in the greatest emissions reduction percentage and it only had a marginal economic difference than the other technologies.


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:

The Washington Road stream restoration project, completed in 2012, serves as a model of the University’s approach to linking sustainable operations and academic pursuits on campus. The restoration project and related outcomes are the subject of several research projects and the focus of undergraduate coursework under the direction of Dr. Eileen Zerba, a former senior lecturer in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Long-term data monitoring included:

-Water quality
-Health and biodiversity of the riparian habitat
-Macroinvertebrate composition
-Potential future changes in response to stormwater runoff events in the now-modified geomorphology of the stream
-Continuous monitoring of stream water level, including during storm events (e.g. Hurricane Irene)
-Preliminary results of nutrient composition, dissolved oxygen, and water clarity indicate a healthier stream -environment compared to pre-restoration conditions.


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:
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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:

In 2013, Kristie Liao ’13 completed the thesis, “The Princeton University Preparatory Program and Participants’ Postsecondary Outcomes.” The thesis analyzed the effectiveness of the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP), a college access program for high-achieving, low-income high school students. The study found that PUPP participation is significantly and positively associated with higher odds of attending 4-year and selective institutions, controlling for prior academic ability. Additionally, the high school that PUPP graduates attended remained a significant factor that impacted students’ postsecondary outcomes.


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:

Students in the spring 2014 class, “Creativity, Innovation and Design,” focused on fostering creativity and alternative ways of thinking about real-world problems. For their final projects, students were asked to design a product or service to mitigate high-risk drinking on Princeton’s campus. The groups came up with designs ranging from a new way to provide alcohol education through the online sharing of personal experiences to alcohol-regulated gatherings and even a new cup design that accurately shows how much alcohol it contains. After their presentations, the groups were encouraged to continue perfecting the ideas in hopes of one day implementing the campaigns across campus.


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

Dean for Research Innovation Fund for the Campus as a Lab: Faculty Research in Sustainability, Energy and the Environment: http://www.princeton.edu/research/dean/funding/deans-innovation-funds/

The Office of Sustainability provides a page on its website designed to inspire students to consider Campus as Lab projects in choosing their Junior Paper, Senior Thesis, and graduate research topics. The page includes a wide array of Campus as Lab questions that apply to all sustainability topics and academic disciplines. View the page here: http://sustain.princeton.edu/lab/research

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.