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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Michele Hebert
Submission Date Aug. 26, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Alaska Fairbanks
ER-15: Sustainability Research Identification

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Michele Hebert
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution developed a definition of sustainability research?:

A copy of the institution's definition of sustainability research:

UAF Sustainability Research Definition
Developed by the UAF Sustainability Research Definition Committee appointed by Chancellor Brian Rogers in the fall of 2010. The committee consisted of Richard Wies, Craig Gerlach, Terry Chapin, Michael Koskey and William Schnabel. Chancellor Rogers approved this definition, on March 30, 2011.

This definition will be used for the purpose of participating in Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). It is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress towards sustainability. It fulfills the STARS Reporting ER Credit 15 (see credit detailed on page 5 of this documents).
As outlined in the STARS technical report, Universities are rated on having a Sustainability Research Committee (of at least 3 faculty members who conduct research) to develop an official definition of Sustainability Research. This definition will be used as a guide for inventorying, reporting and engaging faculty in interdisciplinary sustainability activities.
The STARS technical manual outlined that the definition does not need to be formally adopted across campus.

UAF Sustainability Research Definition
Sustainability research at University of Alaska, Fairbanks addresses the integration of cultural, economic, environmental, and energy components and supports projects and perspectives that have positive impacts on future resources, ecosystem health, and human wellbeing.

Sustainability Research Themes
•Climate change and Adaption
•Culture Sustainability
•Ecosystems and Natural Resources Management
•Energy Efficiency and Renewable and Alternative Energy
•Food Security and Agriculture systems
•Water Quality and Supply

Climate Change and Adaption
Alaska is undergoing rapid changes in climate, human population and demands on natural resources. Future planning that accounts for these changes can reduce costs and liabilities. Currently most policy and management planning for Alaska and elsewhere assumes that future conditions will be similar to those of our recent past experience. However, there is reasonable consensus within the scientific community that future climatic, ecological, and economic conditions will likely be quite different from those of the past. As America’s arctic research university, the University of Alaska Fairbanks leads the way in conducting climate change research that affects Alaska and the rest of the circumpolar North.

Current research projects going on in this area:
1.Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Hydropower in Southeast Alaska: Planning for a Robust Energy Future
2.Effects of Forest Fire on Permafrost
3.Multidecadal Variability In The Arctic and North Atlantic Climate System
4.Methane in the Arctic and its Role in Global Climate Change
5.Cross-Regional Dialogue: Climate Change, Water Impacts and Indigenous People.
6.Estimating Future Costs for Alaska Public Infrastructure at Risk to Climate Change
7.The Synergistic Effects of Climate Change and Land Use in the Upper Yukon River Watershed
8.Sea Ice Project
9. Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Forested Ecosystems of Alaska

Cultural Sustainability
Cultural sustainability concerns issues of social justice enabling stable communities that can, by extension, exist in environmentally viable ways. Economy and language are foremost in providing for cultural sustainability through cultural expression. Continuity of culture and identity maintenance in the face of technological and social change is necessary for sustaining culturally healthy, and therefore psychologically and spiritually healthy, communities.

Current research projects going on in this area:
1.The People of the Yukon-Charley: Ethnographic Overview and Assessment for the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve
2.The Quinhagak Archaeology Project
3.Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Biological Sampling of Non-Salmon Fish Species in The Yukon Flats Region, Alaska
4.Ch’eghutsen’ Program serving severely emotionally disturbed children and youth in Fairbanks and some Interior villages
5.Yupiit Yuraryarait: Yup’ik Ways of Dancing
6.The Adventures of Yaabaa Teeshaay: First Man Stories from Healy Lake
7.Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska
8.Giinaquq: Like a Face--Sugpiaq Masks of the Kodiak Archipelago
9.Understanding Northern Sustainability Debates: The Politicization of Science in Natural Resource Policymaking in the Canadian and American Circumpolar North
10.Fire-Mediated Changes in the Arctic System: Interactions of Changing Climate and Human Activities

Ecosystems and Natural Resource Management
Ecosystem sustainability requires an environment that supports the productivity and diversity of northern ecosystems today and in the future. This involves maintaining the capacity of soils, rivers, and oceans to support the productivity and maintain the diversity of plants and animals that are typical of these ecosystems. Sustaining ecosystems is essential to maintaining the natural resources on which Alaskans depend.
The following research projects are examples that address sustainability research in ecology and natural resource management.

Examples of research projects going on in this area:
1.Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research Program
2.Climate change research of IARC, IAB, SNRAS, SFOS, and other UAF entities
3.Reindeer Research Program
4.Large Animal Research
5.Fire ecology research
6.Forest productivity research
7.Conservation and biogeography of northern plants and animals
8.Wildlife and fisheries management research

Energy Efficiency and Renewable and Alternative Energy
Sustainable energy research at UAF involves finding viable energy resource solutions for remote, rural, and urban communities in extreme northern climates that do not compromise the need for also maintaining a sustainable social, economic, and environmental infrastructure. Energy research for remote, rural, and urban communities in extreme northern climates encompasses projects related to displacing fossil fuel based resources through improving energy efficiency of existing systems and use method and using local renewable and alternative energy sources.

Current research projects going on in this area:
1.Sustainable and Resilient Village Community: Wind-Diesel Research
2.Energy-Efficient Seafood Processing Plants
3.Village Smart Grid Research
4.Sustainable Building Energy
5.Micro-Hybrid Alternative Energy
6.Electric Vehicle Modeling & Conversions
7.Vanadium Reflux Battery Energy Storage Systems
8.Electric Thermal Heating Systems

Food Security and Agriculture Systems
Sustainable food system incorporates crop and livestock production, marine and riverine fisheries and subsistence harvesting. Sustainable food and farming systems promotes ecosystem health and considers the positive health of the environment and community. Food systems solutions are place-based as related to and resulting from appropriately scaled technologies and human behaviors that function in combination to enhance ecosystem and food production productivity, in such a way to promote human and community health.

Current research projects going on in this area:
1.Transitional states in marine fisheries: adapting to cope with global change.
2.Outpost Agriculture: Food System Innovation in Rural Alaskan Communities.
3.Identifying Red and Blue King Crab Stocks for Sustainable Harvest and Sustainable Coastal Alaskan Communities
4.Feeding soy or fish meal to Alaskan reindeer - effects on animal performance and meat quality
5.Breeding and selecting field crops and forages adapted to high latitudes
6.Enhancing soil nitrogen in subarctic conditions by using legumes
7.Reducing pesticide use and determining alternatives for pesticides
8.Improving marketing techniques for farmers' markets and roadside stands using the "Alaskan Grown" logo and program
9.Using sensory panels to determine the characteristics of, and consumer preferences for, Alaska agricultural products

Water Quantity and Quality
Water is an essential resource for human life, for the economy and for ecosystems. Water saving techniques, prevention and reuse approaches, clean processes, end-of-pipe treatments, system design, IT-tools for management, monitoring and control systems, flood forecasting techniques, ecological engineering, appropriate technologies, are all areas of water resources sustainability research. Sustainability water research also focuses on water security issues related to climate change in Alaska.

1.Current research projects going on in this area:
2.Numerical modeling for assessing in-stream hydrokinetic resources
3.Linking North Slope climate, hydrology, and fish migration
4.Studies on fixed bed biosorption of Cd (II) from single and binary metal aqueous solutions using protonated citrus peels
5.NSDSS: The North Slope Decision Support System—an online tool for integrated management of North Slope water resources
6.Using synthetic aperture radar imagery to estimate lake water volumes on Alaska's North Slope
7.Updating Alaska regional rainfall frequency estimates
8.Hydrologic modeling for sustainable transportation infrastructure
9.Using vegetated systems for water management at Alaska solid waste facilities
10.Fate and transport of pathogens in rural Alaska water and wastewater infrastructure.
11.Increased algae blooms and methane production in tundra lakes relating to climate change.

Has the institution identified its sustainability research activities and initiatives?:

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the inventory:

The STARS team identified research data bases to include grants and graduate research. Key identified sustainability words were used to search within databases. The percent of sustainability focused projects were identified. A summary of the findings and methods can be found at the Office of Sustainability Website listed below.

Does the institution make its sustainability research inventory publicly available online?:

The website URL where the sustainability research inventory is posted (required if claiming Part 3 of the credit):

Publically available inventories

Search of dissertation and thesis for the last 2 years 2009-2010. 67.3% of documents met the key word searches.

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.