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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 67.81
Liaison Kelly Wellman
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Texas A&M University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ben Kalscheur
Sustainability Assistant Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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:

Utilities & Energy Services (UES) holds tours of the operating plants to give students first- hand experience on how the facilities operate. We have a number of students working side by side with UES staff evaluating building, distribution system, and plant operating performance. These students are usually with UES for 2 or more years and have the opportunity to gain real world experience while pursuing their academic degrees.


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:

The Combined Heat and Power system at the Central Utility plant is regularly used to give students a better understanding of CHP.

The ARCH 406 class in the College of Architecture was given a project to redesign the underutilized spaces on campus as pavilions with the use of sustainable materials and reduced amount of utilities.


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:

Students collected and analyzed building usage data to create schedules to turn heating and cooling systems off when not in use. Schedules typically reduce building energy consumption by more than 15% annually.


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:

Chartwells at Texas A&M has hired a sustainability intern (current Texas A&M student) that helps manage sustainability-related initiatives within the company. This position has led to greater sustainability education for not only the student but the company. Sustainability-related projects include the planning and coordinating of the company's annual Farmers' Market on campus, data collection for STARS, making food recommendations that are in line with STARS, and working to make Texas A&M a Fair Trade Campaign. The latter project will require coordination between Chartwells and the Office of Sustainability. Project implementation will lead to Fair Trade education throughout the Texas A&M campus.


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:

A central focus of SSC Grounds Management is the active support and leadership of sustainability efforts campus wide. The department actively participates in a myriad of activities in conjunction with individual students, student groups, formal course work, research projects, and campus initiatives.

In March 2017, Grounds Manager, Don Crawford had the pleasure of accompanying students and faculty from the Texas A&M University Horticulture Department to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) 41st annual National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC), held this year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah from March 15-18th. Three student participants have ties to SSC Grounds Management. Two participants are current student employees and one participant was an intern on the TAMU campus this past summer.

The event attracts the top 60 post-secondary horticulture programs in the U.S. and Canada. Approximately 750 students, 200 faculty, and 300 industry leaders attend annually. It was the first time TAMU has participated. The TAMU students did quite well and all had top 10-15 finishes and as a team placed 27th out of 61 (top 50%) despite not participating in 6 events.

In May 2017, Grounds Management completed a two year project working with student groups Aggieland Monarch Butterfly Project and CKI Monarch Watch to create a butterfly garden on campus.

We are currently working with the Horticulture department creating a lab that will allow students to design and install landscapes on campus.

We are also working the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental studies to create Rain Gardens.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
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 Purchasing:
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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:

The alternative transportation unit often partners with various academic departments to better transportation on campus. We did several studies with the urban planning department about bike share before we implemented the program based on their recommendations.

We also partner with other departments and student groups to educate and enable the student population to know more and utilize alternative transportation modes. We have a bike maintenance shop that teaches bike maintenance to students and allows them to use the station and tools to repair their bikes.

We also use League Cycling Instructors to teach bike safety classes to build confidence in cycling so the mode is used more often and appropriately.


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:

The Howdy Farm promotes recycling and reduces green waste through composting practices. The farm composts all green waste generated from the gardens and creates compost that is used to fertilize and build healthy soils.

UES partnered with students to conduct a waste audit and provide input on recycling bin placement.


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:

The Howdy Farm, works to teach students about water conservation in sustainable agriculture by using drip irrigation, organic mulches, and by planting seasonal crops that conserve water. The Howdy Farm also utilizes rainwater harvesting in an effort to use less municipal water.


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

The Office of Sustainability utilizes our Internship Team to assist with STARS reporting requirements. Interns prepare information needed for credits and help with data collection. In particular, they helped us code syllabi for AC-1.


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:

The Office of Sustainability Internship Program focuses on educating campus and the public in regards to the University's sustainability initiatives and encourages participants to make more sustainable decisions in their daily lives. The main focus of the program is Campus Engagement through a peer to peer outreach platform. Our students give presentations, provide workshops, plan and participate in events and design the educational content, create videos, utilize social media and do various tabling and other engagement activities to engage our campus community around sustainability issues. Positive outcomes associated with this work include: providing presentations to audiences ranging from 75 - 150 students/faculty/staff 2-4 times each semester; providing workshops for audiences ranging from 30-50 students/faculty/staff; creating education content for events that range from 250-600 participants; and generating digital content for social media platforms that have between 500 to 2,500 followers.

Public outreach occurs at the community-wide Brazos Valley Earth Day, and at various school/after school programs in the community. Positive outcomes associated with the work include interacting with ~200 people at Earth Day and sharing our sustainability message, presenting about living more sustainably to a group of over 100 5-12 grade students at a local private school, and developing interactive educational activities for K-5 children in the local community.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
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 Wellbeing & Work:
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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)?:
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 other areas:

The Winnie Carter Wildlife Center is a 12-acre facility located on the TAMU College Station campus. Native Texas wildlife species, including white-tailed deer and Texas tortoises, are some of the animals housed at the facility.

Undergraduate, graduate and veterinary students come to the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center to learn about the husbandry, management, research and medicine of these animals. Experiential learning is the method by which courses are taught at the center. Students participate in the care of the animals and the facilities. The center is a unique campus living laboratory.

In addition, students participate in composting and recycling and reuse efforts, energy conservation, and are taught about sustainability.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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.