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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 68.58
Liaison Mary Ellen Mallia
Submission Date Jan. 15, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University at Albany
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Mary Ellen Mallia
Director of Environmental Sustainability
Finance and Business
"---" 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 No
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No
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:

Our energy officer has formed a collaboration with our Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science and she often speaks in their class, discussing various initiatives we have undertaken. Last year, she gave seminars followed by a tour for Professor Lazaer's, Keessee's and Tang's classes. The seminar covers a wide variety of topics including including alternative transportation, stormwater management, energy efficiency of the geothermal system and lighting system, water efficiency, use of non-potable water for irrigation, materials used –regional, recycled content and low VOC and Indoor Environmental Quality. The seminar is usually followed by a tour of one of our LEED certified buildings, usually Liberty Terrace or the new School of Business. Note: this example also applies to the Energy category as this projects includes both elements.


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:

Five of UAlbany's new buildings have achieved LEED certification. We often host tours of buildings, especially Liberty Terrace and the Massry School of Business building. For example, our energy officer hosted approximately (58) students from the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences on April 2, 2014. The students participated in a presentation followed by a tour of the building as part of their course on Sustainable Development: Energy and Resources. The class was an excellent way for the University to integrate its building operations with curriculum.


In addition, the Academic Librarians Association Conference’s attendees and the School of Social Welfare and Renaissance Corporation took a tour of the Liberty Terrace building on June 9 and July 9 respectively. The various energy efficiency and sustainability features of the building were highlighted during these tours.


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:

Students in a freshman seminar class works closely with dining services to increase awareness and procurement of local foods in the dining hall. Their first outcome was successfully lobbying to get signage included next to dishes that are made with local products. In the following year, they partnered to put on a Local Food version of Iron Chef. Currently, the class is documenting the local farms we purchase from in order to make educational signage and poster that will be put in the dining hall.


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:

Our energy officer has formed a collaboration with our Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science and she often speaks in their class, discussing various initiatives we have undertaken. Last year, she gave seminars followed by a tour for Professor Lazaer's, Keessee's and Tang's classes. The seminar covers a wide variety of topics including including alternative transportation, stormwater management, energy efficiency of the geothermal system and lighting system, water efficiency, use of non-potable water for irrigation, materials used –regional, recycled content and low VOC and Indoor Environmental Quality. The seminar is usually followed by a tour of one of our LEED certified buildings, usually Liberty Terrace or the new School of Business. Note: this example also applies to the Air & Climate category as the project includes both elements.


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:

In the fall of 2013, students undertook a project to create a heritage garden on campus. In spring 2014, two classes were involved in the research needed to create the proposal for the garden. These included Professor Gary Kleppel's biology class who researched potential site locations and soil quality and Professor Mitch Aso's history class who research potential crops that would align with the vision of heirloom crops that represented various time periods in Albany's agricultural history. The proposal was submitted and approved. In the fall of 2014, the garden was constructed in the location recommended by the biology class. In the spring of 2015, the crops planted were aligned with the list created by the history class and first harvest occurred in fall 2015.


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:
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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:

A student in Professor Lawson's transportation course (GOG502) completed a white paper that analyzed data from the campus commuting patterns and behavior survey and provided an analysis and recommendations for the Office of Sustainability and Parking and Mass Transit. She completed a Chi Square analysis of the survey data and found that the university can improve transportation efficiencies by re-examining our bus routes and establishing a carpooling database.


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:

Students in a freshman seminar class collaborated with the Office of Sustainability, Dining services and Chartwells to weigh the food waste that came out of one dining hall for two weeks. This was in order to get a baseline idea of food waste in order to implement a composting pilot. The information from this project was used in crafting a bid for a organic food waste hauling service. The pilot was initiated in spring of 2013 at one quad's dining hall. This service has since expanded to all of the quad dining halls.


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:

Our newest residential area, Liberty Terrace, has served as the site for lessons in stormwater management, highlighting its raingardens, green roof and location next to Indian Pond, our retention basin that provides water to irrigate our fields and lawns. Classes have been brought to Liberty Terrace for tours on this topic. Most recently the incoming Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) class participated in an interactive lesson on green building and water management this past summer. Liberty Terrace has also served as a stop on the Capital Region Green Infrastructure tour.In addition, during our energy campaign, the housing managers at our apartment complexes host a "green your space" event at the beginning of the year. Water conservation, by doing full loads in the dishwasher and laundry are highlighted.


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:

A group of students in the Urban Planning Master's Program conducted research for a project that created a bike-friendly campus at the University at Albany. The project was presented to Campus Planning who shared the idea with the Offices of Parking and Mass Transit Services, Environmental Sustainability, Residential Life and the University Police Department. Over the last 3 years, the Bikeable UAlbany initiative has been in effect, from planning to construction. Now students have a path around the entire campus that provides recreation, safety, and leisure to UAlbany students and the broader community.


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:
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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:

As part of the freshman seminar for the World of Environmental Sustainability, students complete in public engagement activities centered around sustainable food production. This included visiting area farms and taking photos of the land, crops, and the farmers. The students are working with our University Auxiliary Services to have these photographs and their written descriptors put up in the dining halls. The students also participated in gleanings and activities surrounding our campus garden as part of their curriculum.


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:

Taya Owens, a doctoral student in the Education Administration and Studies Program, used the STARS data from UAlbany and a variety of other institutions and analyzed these for trends for a graduate research paper in her Introduction to Research Methods as part of her program. Her work entitled “Growth or Decline? The Form and Function of the Sustainability Agenda in Higher Education.” was awarded the 2014 AASHE Student Research on Campus Sustainability Award. In it she models the relationship between green campus form (academic or operational) and function (growth or decline strategy).


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.