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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 Silver
Overall Score 51.71
Liaison Jeffrey Severin
Submission Date July 17, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.20 / 4.00 Kim Criner
Education & Outreach Coordinator
Center for Sustainability
"---" 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 ---
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food ---
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing ---
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment ---
Public Engagement ---
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:
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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:

The KU School of Engineering completed construction on a new building during the spring of 2013. One of the features of the building was a didactic approach taken to construction of the interior of the building. The concept allows for students to see the inner-workings of the building by not covering ceilings and walls. Engineering students can get a feel for the components associated with the operation of large-scale building structures.

In AYs 2013 and 2014 KU's Studio 804 program built two campus facilities in the course of the Master of Architecture Design-to-Build capstone: The Ecohawks Research Facility and The Forum at Marvin Hall. Studio 804 engages students in the hands-on experience of conceptualizing, designing, and literally constructing a building. Studio 804 building have received LEED Platinum status since 2008. Students effort to incorporate sustainable design into every aspect of the building process. More on Studio 804 here: http://www.studio804.com/index.html


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:
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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:

The KU Biodiesel Initiative is a largely student-run organization that recovers used cooking oil from KU Dining Services and turns it into fuel for research in gasoline alternatives. Their biodiesel product is currently being tested in the campus bus fleet. The goal is to move the fleet completely to this fuel, once sufficient testing has been successful. KU Biodiesel has also recently been researching the use of wastewater algae as fuel.


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:

The KU Prairie Acre has been preserved as a natural native prairie landscape since 1932. In Spring 2014 Environmental Studies students focused a capstone project on the revitalization, expansion and enhancement for educational purposes of the Prairie Acre. Results of their project have resulted in native plants becoming more of a focus of campus planting projects. Furthermore, their research is being used by professors and Center for Sustainability interns to make progress on their proposal.


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:

The KU Biodiesel Initiative is a largely student-run organization that recovers used cooking oil from KU Dining Services and turns it into fuel for research in gasoline alternatives. Their biodiesel product is currently being tested in the campus bus fleet. The goal is to move the fleet completely to this fuel, once sufficient testing has been successful.


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:

The KU Biodiesel Initiative is a largely student-run organization that recovers used cooking oil from KU Dining Services, a would-be waste product and turns it into fuel for research in gasoline alternatives for the on-campus bus fleet. KU Biodiesel has also started to research the production of soap from glycerin, which is a waste product from the production of their biodiesel. They are developing a process to produce a safe and effective hand soap from this by-product, which could be used in restrooms in athletics facilities or other areas on campus.


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:

Each year, Field Ecology classes at KU work with sixth graders from all Lawrence middle schools to teach the sixth graders about freshwater ecology using Potter Lake in the center of the campus. This provides an opportunity to KU students to better understand freshwater ecology topics themselves by getting out in the lake, testing the water quality, examining various wildlife in and around the lake and teaching the sixth graders about these topics.


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:
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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:

The KU Peer Health Educators are an organization made up of staff and student volunteers that provide free health education programming to the KU community by giving health presentations while gaining experience with public speaking, gaining volunteer hours for a great resume, improving health/wellness knowledge, learning how to effectively network and make connections, retain prefrofessional references, create handouts to reach the student population, and much more!


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:
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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:

The newly constructed parking Lot 54 on campus has many sustainable features including permeable surfaces, a rain garden, LED lighting and a tree canopy, among other things. With regard to the campus as a living laboratory, Lot 54 also includes sampling wells for classes to assess, understand, and conduct storm water management practices.


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.