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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 81.30
Liaison Sarah Munro
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Sarah Munro
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Policy
"---" 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:

Through the Green Campus Academic Network established in 2015, one professor, Kristina Wagstrom, has established several projects with students to monitor air quality on campus. They surveyed multiple locations on UConn's campus to determine the amount of pollutants in the air. The students also surveyed UConn faculty, staff, and students to determine what areas the UConn population deemed to be most polluted. The results from Kristina Wagstrom's study informed faculty on the need for better education about pollution on campus. Finally, once the students measured the pollution data, they spoke with the Office of Environmental Policy to recommend changes to traffic patterns 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:

Energy/Water Dashboard
UConn has ten buildings that are LEED certified or awaiting certification. In 2014, two of UConn’s new LEED Gold-certified buildings, Laurel Hall and Oak Hall, were both outfitted with real-time energy and water dashboards. OEP works to ensure that these dashboards are integrated into various UConn curricula, through classes and projects that engage students in exercises related to conservation of water, electricity, and steam use in buildings. Each dashboard also provides an interactive green campus and green building tour. The dashboard interface can be accessed in person at the kiosks stationed in the main lobbies or on-line at http://uconn.greentouchscreen.com/

Low Impact Development (LID)
There are six different types of LID features used in more than 20 locations across campus. Over 400,000 square feet of campus area is covered using LID practices.


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:

Co-Generation Plant

UConn's state-of-the-art Co-Generation Facility opened in February 2006, replacing several oil-fired utility boilers and enabling the University to meet its own energy needs at the main campus.

The Co-Generation Plant, which houses the cogeneration technology, is located centrally on the UConn Storrs campus.

Co-Generation is defined as the sequential production of both electrical or mechanical energy and useful thermal energy from a single energy source. This allows over 80% of the fuel energy to be harnessed, versus 33% from a conventional electric power plant.
The Co-Generation facility provides a two-fold reduction in emissions:

1. Natural gas, a cleaner burning fuel, is used by the facility to generate electricity and steam for heating and evaporative cooling.
2. Also, the inclusion of steam production in the process removes the need to construct separate steam-production facilities that would burn their own fuel and have their own emissions.

Most power plants on the electric grid are considerably less efficient than cogeneration facilities because they do not capture and utilize the steam for heating and cooling. Also, “distributed generation,” like UConn’s 25 MW Co-Generation facility, prevents the efficiency loss and congestion that occurs during transmission and distribution of electricity from the point of generation to distant electricity customers.

Due to these features, the UConn Co-Generation facility reduces carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emissions by an estimated 30,000 tons each year versus emissions from fossil-fueled power plants serving the regional electric grid.
The Cogen has been used for student tours, and has inspired both undergraduate and graduate academic research on energy efficiency. http://www.engr.uconn.edu/plantperformance.php?id=5


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:

Spring Valley Student Farm
Spring Valley Student Farm is collaboration with Dining Services, Residential Life, EcoHouse as part of First Year Programs and Learning Communities, and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Guided tours are provided every Tuesday (Farm Tuesday) throughout the school year and during the summer. In addition, various other outreach and learning opportunities are provided for UConn students and the greater community throughout the academic year (e.g., http://dining.uconn.edu/spring-valley-farm/)
The farm is located at 104 Spring Manor Road, Mansfield, CT, 06268 just off Route 32 north of the Route 44 intersection. Turn at the big blue UConn Spring Manor Farm sign. GPS address is 1327 Stafford Road, Storrs Mansfield, 06268.

eCorect
UConn Dining Services utilizes in-kitchen food waste decomposers/eCorect ™ units in five of UConn’s dining halls, which process and convert the waste into a compost-like material, virtually overnight.
Currently the units reduce food waste 75-80% by volume, (from 100 tons of food waste to nearly 20 tons of reusable material in 2013) with the potential for a 100% reduction, if a suitable year-round use of the compost-like material can be found.

EcoHusky Food Waste Studies
Every year, the largest environmental student group on campus, EcoHusky, works with UConn Dining Services to conduct a food waste study across multiple dining halls. The food waste study is meant to not only educate the student body about the amount of food that is wasted every day, but it provides EcoHusky members with advocacy experience. After each of the studies, EcoHusky members meet with Dining Services to provide recommendations on ways to continue decreasing food waste on 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:

Forests and Trails

UConn's forests are important resources for educational as well as recreational uses. In March 2010, a land conservation deal between the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, and UConn conserved an additional 531 acres of forest land and three miles of blue-blazed hiking trails in the towns of Willington and Mansfield.

In order to preserve the University's natural areas and encourage responsible public enjoyment of the forest, members of the UConn Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) and the EcoHusky Student Group cooperate in efforts to improve trail signage and increase use of the parcels.

Tree Campus USA
The University of Connecticut is working to provide effective tree preservation and management for on campus tree and forest resources. As part of this, UConn has been designated as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Currently, most of the tree preservation efforts come from the UConn Arboretum Committee and the Campus Tree Care Plan. In addition, UConn celebrates Arbor Day annually with a dedicated tree planting.

The University also has a number of notable and unique tree species on campus that can be viewed by following the walking tree tour.
http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/development/parks.html

Bee Campus USA
UConn was designated a Bee Campus USA in 2017, making it the first university in Connecticut to receive this designation and one of only 29 institutions nationwide. As part of Bee Campus USA, students participate in service-learning projects on campus and contribute to the development of a Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan as part of the Bee Campus Committee.


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:

Live Local – Local Purchasing
Live Local Connecticut is a UConn Extension program that focuses on engaging citizens in Connecticut with local food and gardening, whether through purchasing or growing their own food and gardening supplies. Students gain valuable outreach and community building skills through this extension program.


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 university employs and trains students to safely operate commercial vehicles and provide opportunities for advancement in the department. Students have the ability to acquire a set of skills that are highly applicable to the real world while also providing the university community with transportation in and around campus efficiently. The opportunities for advancement include positions such as preventative maintenance and dispatching. These add to the students’ basic mechanical experience, and also managerial experience in logistics. Many students use these experiences to aid in getting jobs after graduation.
http://transpo.uconn.edu/#employment

UConn Cycle Share
As part of the UConn Cycle Share program, student workers gain experience advocating for the use of bicycles on campus. In addition, they lead cycle repair workshops and participate in the annual Earth Day Spring Fling celebration.


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:

Hillside Environmental Education Park (HEEP)

The Hillside Environmental Education Park is a preservation of about 33 acres of wetlands and 31 acres of uplands. The park includes a network of trails running from North Hillside Road to Hunting Lodge Road and features two wildlife observational platforms and an additional viewing platform overlooking HEEP from the back of C-Lot.

HEEP is a great contribution to the Mansfield Open Space Network, which includes parks and conserved lands from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Town of Mansfield, and the University. HEEP is the result of the Landfill Project, which is an environmental remediation project the University undertook from the 1990's to the 2000's, that culminated in the creation of C-Lot, which caps the old landfill, and HEEP.

The HEEP provides numerous research and study opportunities in topics such as invasive species management, wildlife management and habitat enhancement, wetlands mitigation, vernal pool creation and management, to name a few! We encourage student groups and faculty members who may be interested in the Hillside Environmental Education Park site and its remediation plan to use the site for research and educational opportunities.
http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/development/heep.html

Compost Facility

UConn houses a state of the art agricultural composting facility, constructed in 2010. The facility manages 800 tons a year of agricultural and other organic wastes, to produce high quality compost. Student volunteers learn the process of composting and assist with the annual compost sale.
http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/recycling/compost-temp.html


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:

Reclaimed Water Facility

The Reclaimed Water Facility uses a tertiary treatment process for the University’s waste water. This process uses microfiltration and ultraviolet disinfection, which allows UConn to divert a maximum of 1 million gallons of non-potable – not drinkable – water each day to meet the campus’ needs that don’t require fresh water.
http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/living/rwf.html

UConn classes and local high school and middle classes often take tours of the facility to learn about reducing/reusing 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 Undergraduate Student Government (USG) allows students to gain hands-on experience in the legislative and regulatory process. This includes a 60-student Senate, Judiciary Branch, and an Executive Branch comprised of the President, Vice President, and Executive Committee. There are also five committees, which encourage active participation from the entire undergraduate body.


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:

Students have active roles in five cultural centers on campus: the African American Cultural Center, Asian American Cultural Center, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center (for LGBT students), and Women’s Center. Students work and volunteer to put on events that celebrate diversity and educate the student body on contemporary cultural issues


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

Each year Graduate and Undergraduate students participate on UConn's Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility:

The President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility exists to provide advice and guidance to the President’s Office to help ensure that the University maintains its position as a leader among institutions of higher education committed to the protection and advancement of CSR policies that reflect respect for fundamental human rights, environmental sustainability, and the dignity of all people.

Examine our relationships with other universities, national and international organizations, and others, to determine how we can work together to best meet our common objectives. This would include our relationship with the University’s contracted licensing agency (The Collegiate Licensing Company – CLC) regarding corporate social responsibility in the production of officially licensed products utilizing the indicia (work marks and logos) of the University.
Regularly monitor the on-going corporate social responsibility efforts of the Workers Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association and recommend University action in response, as appropriate.
Encourage and support academic research in this area to advance the understanding of global labor issues throughout the University community.
Encourage and support community awareness of corporate social responsibility and action through a variety of means, including curricular development, facilitation of dialogue among university related groups, and ongoing communication.
Respond to emerging issues related to CSR within the University community and advise the President’s Office with respect to such issues and potential responses.
http://csr.uconn.edu/committee-members/


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:

Living and Learning Communities
Living and Learning Communities provide cohorts of students with opportunities to investigate areas of interest, either based on their major or an interdisciplinary topic, through guided courses and co-curricular activities. Living and Learning Communities develop knowledgeable, responsible, engaged citizens in a culture of inquiry within a learner-centered university. While assisting students with their transition to academic life, they offer a small college feel and a sense of place on a large campus; they promote meaningful and sustained interactions with faculty, staff and student leaders; and they provide an effective structure for curricular coherence, deeper learning, student success, persistence, and engagement. More than 40 percent of the incoming class participates in a learning community, as well as hundreds of students beyond the first year.
Relationship with the Community and the World
Students are provided with meaningful opportunities outside of the classroom that build upon the core academic principles discussed in Learning Community courses. These experiences aid students in developing an increased level of participation in a global society, thanks to an enhanced cultural competency, environmental awareness, an enhanced understanding of human rights and equality, and exposure to undergraduate research. Having the skills and connections formed from within the Learning Community Program students are prepared for success in their personal, academic, and professional lives at UConn and beyond.
Cultural Competency, Environmental Awareness, and Participation in a Global Society: Students will be competent in understanding other cultures, and interacting effectively with people from cultures other than their own. Students will be able to describe their connection with local and global ecosystems, and the impact of their lifestyles on those ecosystems. Students will be able to articulate what it means to them to be a responsible participant in a global society.
Human Rights and Equality: Students will be able to express their own values as they relate to human rights, equality, privilege, and oppression. Students will be able to describe a variety of ways that their choices and lifestyle are related to the rights and lives of others who live nearby and around the world.
Undergraduate Research: Students will be exposed to research opportunities normally reserved for upperclassmen within their first and second year, giving them the chance to make the most from their time at UConn. The Learning Community Program hosts a Learning Community Research Connections event every fall that connects first and second year students to faculty, staff and student researchers. This event prepares students to network, build connections, develop potential areas of interest for research, and hear about current research positions.
Professional and Career Development: Students will be connected to the Center for Career Development through the Learning Community Certificate of Professional Development. All first year students that join the Learning Community Program will progress through this four semester career development and preparation program and be awarded with a certificate upon completion. This program will focus on “Getting Started” with career planning, “Networking and Involvement”, “Identifying Opportunities” and “Obtaining Opportunities”.


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:

Wellbeing & Work - Students
Students who work in the Office of Environmental Policy also help maintain and update a “Going Green” bulletin that is available to RAs. The students research the information to make sure that it is current and provide their fellow students with information on ways to be more sustainable. We also produce a “going green” stall street news that is distributed to students in the residence halls. It is also researched and maintained. We also produce bulletin boards on animal welfare and rights in addition to vegetarian and vegan bulletin boards and stall streets. These also speak to “going green” and sustainability.

Wellbeing & Work - Faculty and Staff
The Office of Environmental Policy established and runs the Green Office Certification Program which encourages faculty and staff to green their offices. As part of the program, participants are given weekly tips for improving the sustainability and health of their workplace as well as their daily lifestyles (e.g., encouraging faculty and staff to go for walks during lunch, etc.).


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:

Animal Science: Students in this department interact with the livestock on campus and use the grounds for training and handling the animals. Courses include: Behavior and Training of Domestic Animals, Horse Science, Principles of Poultry Science, Dairy Cattle Management, and Livestock Management.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Natural Resources: Students in several courses under these two departments conduct research and observational surveys of plants and animals on campus. These courses include: Field Animal Behavior, General Ecology, Dendrology, Wetlands Ecology, Ornithology, Summer Flora, Forest Ecology, Stream Ecology, Aquatic Plant Biology, Mammology, and Herpetology.


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.