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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 69.67
Liaison Trina Innes
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Kurt Borth
Project Planner
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:

In late 2016 the Office of Sustainability partnered with the City of Edmonton to receive five AirBeam air quality monitoring devices. In 2017, undergraduates in CHEM 305 Environmental Chemistry II used these devices to conduct research into PM2.5 air quality measures on campus.


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:

To implement building information modeling (BIM) at its construction and renovation projects, the university conducted a review of several BIM guidelines from different North American institutions in order to better address the university's needs and investigate the progress of others in this area.

The work was conducted through the Sustainability Scholars program by a graduate student and his mentors. The work was completed in summer of 2016 and consisted of three phases.

1) A current process assessment was performed through interviews with major players at the University of Alberta (urban planning, construction, operation, maintenance and energy modelling) in order to better assess their current process and potential uses of BIM.

2) A comprehensive review was undertaken of twelve guidelines from institutions with different backgrounds (third party, government and university organizations)

3) Recommendations were drafted for a future BIM guideline tailored for capital and renovation projects and further implementation.


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:

PEOPLE COUNTER PROJECT
Occupancy counting sensors are being studied by a Masters student in Civil & Environmental Engineering, with results enabling the control of HVAC systems based on actual occupants and the pilot optimization of cleaning staff scheduling. This project is ongoing.

http://www.facilities.ualberta.ca/en/Operations_Maintenance/EMSO/~/media/facilities/Documents/EMSO/PeopleCounters_web.pdf


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:

In Fall 2016, undergraduate students in the course AREC 173: Plate, Planet and Society participated in a community service-learning component on the topic "Sustainable Food Inventory." Students worked together to create an inventory of sustainable food options available at the University of Alberta and identified obvious gaps in availability and accessibility. This included organic, socially responsible and local food options.


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:

For five years, Corbett Hall was used as a pilot area to test the effects of different sustainable turf management practices. Research Assistants in Dr. M. Derek Mackenzie’s lab assisted with soil probe testing and analysis of the study’s results. Findings from the pilot study are being used to inform turf management practices used by Buildings and Grounds Services (e.g. increasing the use of organic fertilizers instead of synthetic fertilizers).


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:

The Sustainable Swag Pilot Project was undertaken by a graduate student in the Sustainability Scholars program in summer 2016. This project emerged from the Sustainable Purchasing Working Group co-chaired by Supply Management Services and the Office of Sustainability. The university's procurers are involved in millions of dollars’ worth orders of supplies and equipment each year. Promotional products occupy a distinct niche, with the Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) alone ordering 6,000 items per year. Prior to the project, OAR staff did not account for sustainability in their purchasing criteria. This pilot project aimed to assist the involved procurers with this shift of purchasing practices and make it an easy and enjoyable process.

The major result of the project is the Sustainable Swag Purchasing Guide, a tool that helps OAR staff take into account the social and environmental footprint of their purchases across the full lifecycle of the products. The guide includes a list of preferred swag suppliers of swag that will enrich the university’s list of preferred suppliers of stationery and equipment. In general, the purchasing guide serves as an educational resource and a practical tool to help in evaluating the bids and making sure that the products sourced by suppliers possess sustainable features.

A business case for choosing greener swag is made: overall, customer satisfaction surveys and companies’ performance reports demonstrate that business embracing sustainability are better-off than those who do not. This pilot project fits well to the set of values, goals and objectives of the Alumni Association and the University of Alberta's Sustainability Plan 2016- 2020.


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:

In 2016, the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta initiated a feasibility study and pilot implementation of alternative fuel vehicles with a graduate student and former sustainability scholar. The university is the site for a pilot project where electric vehicles (EV) charging infrastructure is being installed and evaluated with expansion and coverage in mind. The University of Alberta itself is the pioneer public institution within Edmonton where it has adopted several EVs in its fleet and has an existing network of EV charging infrastructure for its fleet.


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:

Since 2011, the university's Facilities and Operations portfolio has worked with the Dr. Daryl McCartney (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) to audit waste on North Campus. Students in Dr. McCartney’s solid waste management course participated in waste audits and used the data in their final course projects. Findings from the waste audits are regularly used to inform and evaluate the university's recycling program. Additionally, at Augustana Campus, students in the first-year sustainability course participate in a public waste audit. Because the audit is open for all of campus to see, it is also an outreach and engagement opportunity. It successfully engages students in recycling and waste diversion processes that affect their everyday activities, all as part of their coursework.


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 West Group Chemistry Labs are one of our four model green labs at the University of Alberta – labs that provide tours to interested groups and demonstrate best practices for lab safety and sustainability. In 2016, this lab made some incredible changes to their equipment and processes including replacing their water aspirators with water-less vacuum pumps which will save the lab over 6,000 L of water every single day. They also replaced the majority of their solvent stills with a solvent purification system which is not only much safer for their lab users but also saves the lab over 35,000 L of water/year. This project was faculty/graduate student led.


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?:
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 Diversity & Affordability:

The university's institutional strategic plan signals a strong determination to “build a diverse, inclusive community of exceptional students, faculty, and staff” while valuing “diversity, inclusivity, and equity across and among our people, campuses, and disciplines.” In particular, the plan aims to “review, improve, and implement equity processes and procedures for recruiting and supporting faculty to ensure a balanced academy, representative of women, visible minorities, sexual and gender minorities, Indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities.”

The goal of an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Educational Framework is to establish the structure, content, and methods of delivery to educate employees about the value and skills required create a culture on campus that is welcoming and inclusive for all. This project is the starting point in the process to develop the educational framework as it outlines the foundational rationale for its design and provides insight into the factors that will contribute to successful and sustainable implementation.

In 2016 a sustainability scholar performed a literature review of academic articles and grey literature (including University of Alberta policy papers) on developing educational frameworks. In addition, a selection of faculty and staff were invited to participate in individual interviews to capture their understanding of EDI principles and their perspectives on implementing an educational framework. Importantly, this sustainability of scholar graduate student project builds on the findings and recommendations in the Respectful and Inclusive Workplace Framework developed by Human Resource Services in 2010. The results of the literature review and interviews, and a close review of the Respectful and Inclusive Workplace (RIW) Framework suggest that an EDI educational framework requires integration and careful planning and implementation by senior members of the university. It also requires the direct engagement of faculty, staff, and students through consultative processes to ensure the curriculum meets the needs of the institution. An EDI educational framework must be a continual work-in-progress that is developed, implemented, and revised over time.


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:

Adopt a Heritage Chicken Program. This program was started to promote the conservation of the unique genetic lines, and to provide a way for the lines to become financially self-supporting.This project supports development of a market analysis for heritage chicks program intended to both raise revenue and to preserve the heritage of chicken lines, and creation of educational materials, workshops and videos to educate consumers on how to raise chickens. This project was developed as a faculty research program with graduate and undergraduate student participation. This project is ongoing.


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:

In summer 2016, a graduate student in the Sustainability Scholars program undertook at study of the availability of breastfeeding support at University of Alberta, analyzing physical facilities, policies and the environment.

Women associated with employment or studies often find it challenging to continue breastfeeding; consequently, they either discontinue breastfeeding or postpone their studies and resign from work to continue their breastfeeding practices. The university wishes to attract and retain a highly productive workforce and world-class students by offering them highly efficient and need-based campus facilities. In order to sustain and improve existing campus facilities for the female employees and students, the aim of this sustainability project was to examine the availability breastfeeding support for the female employees and students who wish to sustain their breastfeeding practices while continuing their employment and studies.


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:

Sustainability Protocols for the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station. This project supports development of a sustainability plan for the station's activities, a sustainability curriculum to be included in university courses and a sustainability outreach plan that includes community service-learning opportunities with community partners. This project is faculty led with participation from graduate and undergraduate students.


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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Robert Summers - Director, Sustainability Scholars Program, Office of the Provost
Robert.Summers@ualberta.ca

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.