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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 57.03
Liaison Heather Lynch
Submission Date Oct. 4, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Saint Michael's College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Heather Lynch
Director of Sustainability
Academic Affairs
"---" 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:

ES 103: Our Sustainable Future. The final group project was focused on developing education/outreach campaigns on the impacts of numerous environmental issues and how the campus plays a role in them. One of the topics that groups focused on was climate change and how behaviors on campus/in residential areas can significantly decrease such impacts.

GG 102: Introduction to Physical Geography, students complete an on- campus lab on field weather forecasting thinking about measurement bias and location of weather equipment siting. If there is snow-cover on campus in December, students also complete a snow measurement and snow water calculation laboratory exercise.


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:

BI 238: Community Ecology: In this course and in other courses before this one, students address how buildings and other impervious built surfaces shed water and how that water is kept out of the groundwater and instead channeled to surface water flow leading to stream erosion. Students also learn how carefully designed construction on campus mitigates this problem.


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:

ES 201: Research Methods – students learn about tools used by campus to track its energy consumption habits (students learn about the carbon calculator and the college’s GHG inventory). Students are then given an assignment that focuses on creating a “factoid” to create awareness among their fellow peers to have a desired impact of reducing energy consumption in the residential areas.

ES 103: Our Sustainable Future. Students’ final projects focused on creating a sustainability action plan for the campus. One group in each section of the course focused on creating an action plan to reduce the impact of energy usage on campus. One project focused on creating a proposal to implement more solar energy usage by the residential halls on campus.


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:

ES 225: Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture. Throughout the semester, students engage with the college’s Permaculture Farm for hands on learning opportunities. For the final project, students create crop plans that the Permaculture Farm crew can utilize for next growing season.

ES 301 A Special Topics: Soils and Sustainable Agriculture. Students engage and participate in labs at the college’s Permaculture Farm to have hands on experience with how to nurture and build healthy soils for food production.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNmitb8AFEA

The Environmental Studies major offers students the opportunity to work one on one with faculty in 4-credit independent studies if current courses do not offer learning opportunities that students are most interested in. One independent study focused on the issue of food waste generation in the college’s dining hall. The student conducted an inventory to track the amount of food wasted on a daily basis from the dining hall. After the initial data collection, the student then created a final report documenting her findings and exploring potential solutions in order to reduce the unnecessary waste from the dining hall.


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:

AR 332: Eco and Environmental Arts. In this course, there are numerous projects that are intended to model the myriad ways art can be used to raise awareness about environmental issues, model alternative ways to manage outdoor spaces, utilize resources in more sustainable ways and create some long lasting functional sites that have small scale ecological benefits. All projects are focused on having an on-campus applications. Examples of projects:
-- Drip Line: An evolving garden installation that removed mowed grass all the way to the edge of a maple tree drip line. The area is edged with stone and brick donated by Trowel Trades. The piece is designed to show how far the root system extends and the harm of maintaining mowed grass over that area. The area was planted with plants that grow in the leaf litter under maple trees in local forests and will be mulched with leaves from the tree.
--Bee Hotels: In collaboration with the Office of Sustainability’s efforts to certify the campus as a Bee Campus, students designed, built and “planted” bee hotels on campus grounds. At each hotel, informational cards were attached to educate people about the importance of pollinators and the need for campus to create safe spaces for them. (also for Public Engagement)

ES 499 – Environmental Studies Academic Internship: Two students enrolled in academic internships with the Office of Sustainability to learn about pollinators and how to design pollinator gardens for campus. One of the student designed pollinator gardens was planted during the summer of 2016 at the college’s Permaculture Farm.

The Teaching Garden and the college arboretum are used in Biology and Education courses. Lessons learned include gardening with native plants, avoiding use of invasive species, and the fate of the American Chestnut.

Community Ecology has successfully used footprint analysis to quantify the differences in mammal diversity between the built portions of campus and the more natural areas south of Rt 15.

In 2017 our Animal Behavior will use motion-activated trail cameras to study the mammals that frequent the natural area south of Rt 15. Pre-class deployment has detected 8 mammal species including an abundant coyote population and an occasional bobcat.

Since 2006 we have utilized neighboring properties (Camp Johnson and Gil Brook Natural Area) as contrasts to the habitat that is our grounds. Our military collaboration has included prescribed burns and serves as a contrast to fire suppression management approach used in Gill Brook. Both of these campus-adjacent habitats serve as more natural experimental treatments as compared to our well-groomed and landscaped campus.

In 2010 a student did a research project measuring squirrel tolerance of human approaches on campus and in the woods. Students in 20012 measured the impacts of duckweed on communities in artificial ponds installed on campus. These are examples of the sort of research projects that occur on the grounds.

Beginning in 2008, our Streams Project, funded by Vermont EPSCoR has utilized our campus as a training location where high school and undergraduate students learn to take surface water samples, macroinvertebrate samples, and also to measure rainfall and water infiltration into soil.


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:

ES 301 Sustainable Food Procurement. Throughout the semester, students learned about the numerous elements/issues related to institutional food procurement by learning about the college’s food procurement process. The final project had students creating a sustainable food procurement Request for Proposal for the college.

In the spring of 2016, the Office of Sustainability offered an academic internship to a student to focus more in depth on food procurement from the college’s Permaculture Farm to Sodexo (the college’s dining service provider). The student worked closely with the dining manager and the farm crew to determine barriers and opportunities regarding sourcing food from the college’s farm in the main dining hall.


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:

BU 464: Sustainable Marketing. The Office of Sustainability was the key partner for the class’s
final main project in which students had to create a turn-key plan/proposal to help promote the various initiatives/sustainability related issues on campus. One of the issues groups had to focus on concerned t5ransportation. Students worked to develop a proposal to create awareness of alternative transportation available to members of the Saint Mike’s community.


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:

ES 103: Our Sustainable Future. The final group project was focused on developing education/outreach campaigns on the impacts of numerous environmental issues and how the campus plays a role in them. One of the topics that groups focused on was waste generation on a college campus. Students created an action plan to educate their fellow peers on how to reduce the amount of consumption they engage in and ways to follow a zero-waste life style while living on campus.

BU 464: Sustainable Marketing. The Office of Sustainability was the key partner for the class’s final main project in which students had to create a turn-key plan/proposal to help promote various initiatives/sustainability related issues on campus. One of the issues groups had to focus on concerned waste. Students helped create and implement a marketing plan for the Office of Sustainability’s annual end of year move-out program: Ditch the Dumpster which aims to capture good items from the dumpsters and donates them to local organizations.


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:

ES 103: Our Sustainable Future. The final group project was focused on developing education/outreach campaigns on the impacts of numerous environmental issues and how the campus plays a role in them. One of the topics that groups focused on was water. Students created an action plan to educate their fellow peers on how to reduce the amount of water they consume on a day to day basis and simple ways they can reduce their water consumption while on a college campus.

In BI 238: Community Ecology, students learn about the runoff issues related to a built environment (the college campus), but more importantly they learn about pervious surfaces that allow water penetration, dry wells, curb-less sidewalks, and other approaches that move water back into the landscape and away from traditional drains. They gain first-hand knowledge about our parking lot system that is designed to keep all of the water from 100-year floods on our campus and gradually released to groundwater.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
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 Coordination & Planning:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
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 Diversity & Affordability:
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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:

AR 332: Eco and Environmental Arts. In this course, there are numerous projects that are intended to model the myriad ways art can be used to raise awareness about environmental issues, model alternative ways to manage outdoor spaces, utilize resources in more sustainable ways and create some long lasting functional sites that have small scale ecological benefits. All projects are focused on having an on-campus applications but also provide students with the skills they need to engage the greater community in environmental issues/awareness.
--Bee Hotels: In collaboration with the Office of Sustainability’s efforts to certify the campus as a Bee Campus, students designed, built and “planted” bee hotels on campus grounds. At each hotel, informational cards were attached to educate people about the importance of pollinators and the need for campus to create safe spaces for them. (also for Grounds)

The campus is an on-campus and the public frequently uses the campus grounds as a place to wander and learn. The art projects on campus are developed and implemented in a manner to capture both the attention of our on-campus community as well as our off campus community. For example, the Bee Hotels have educational post-cards attached to educate the broader community on issues relating to pollinator decline and the importance of providing safe habitat to protect all pollinators.


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:

PS 360: Human Behavior and the Environment. In this psychology course, students focused on various ways in which humans, through their actions, impact their environment and vice versa. One of the students projects was a proposal/research paper on the importance of green spaces on campus to encourage healthier lifestyles.

AR 332: Eco and Environmental Arts. In this course, there are numerous projects that are intended to model the myriad ways art can be used to raise awareness about environmental issues, model alternative ways to manage outdoor spaces, utilize resources in more sustainable ways and create some long lasting functional sites that have small scale ecological benefits. All projects are focused on having an on-campus applications.
--Students in the Spring 2017 course created a project focused on “Green Spaces” in which they focused on putting plants in various office spaces with the idea that plants help promote well-being (as well as numerous health benefits).


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)?:
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 other areas:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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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.