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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 Gold
Overall Score 65.93
Liaison Srinivasan Raghavan
Submission Date Feb. 24, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Michael Burden
Sustainability Coordinator
MU 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 Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing ---
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment No
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:

Several areas: Peter Motavalli, professor of soil science, has two active grants for promoting campus as a living lab. There is a weather station on Sanborn Field equipped with an environmental monitoring system for urban location that records temperature, water content, wind speed and direction at different heights. Recently, sensors have been added as student projects developed, some especially looking at air pollution. The station is part of a statewide network of weather stations. The Environmental Science Club maintains some of the data on their site: http://envsci.missouri.edu/.

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:

From Michael Goldschmidt, assistant professor in architectural studies:

The Department of Architectural Studies includes a class that uses living laboratories for sustainability and ecological design. In ArchSt 4323 Sustainable Technologies, students are required to complete the following class assignments:
- Students are required to collect and sort paper, glass, aluminum, and other materials from Gwynn and Stanley Hall and document the quantities of each and prepare a timeline that follows each type of material from origin to final destination. Students are also required to produce a chart of alternate reuse strategies for each material in lieu of recycling.
- Students are required to create an interior furniture item out of local, free recycled cardboard and a 1 square foot section of recycled material, useable as a wall or ceiling panel.
- In class assignments include:
a. work with a wind turbine and photovoltaic panels
b. document and study campus rainwater control systems and green roofs
c. Use an infrared camera for energy auditing of buildings and use software to estimate energy use of one of their studio projects.

These lab assignments assist students in understanding fundamental concepts and details of comprehensive sustainable strategies for building design and construction.

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:

An undergraduate research team formed in the Spring of 2014 to examine food waste on campus. The project was called Waste Not/Want Not. They collaborated with and were supported by Campus Dining Services.
The research team organized around three general learning objectives.
1. Understand what constitutes food waste.
2. Explore some of the root causes of food waste.
3. Identify ongoing local and regional efforts to address food waste.

Students dedicated 5-8 hours per week to the project and met weekly with an interdisciplinary faculty team (English, Law, Biological Engineering, Engineering), kept daily "food waste" journals, participated in an online discussion board, conducted literature reviews, and, as a team, created a research poster.

*In the fall of 2014 they orchestrated a social media campaign to use what they learned to encourage their peers not to waste and assess their peers' attitudes and motivations related to food waste. They also created posters and table tents to promote the campaign as well. Results will be analyzed and included in the next STARS report.


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:

Information from Gregg Coffin, associate director of energy management at MU:

University of Missouri’s Campus Facilities - Energy Management department has a long history of collaborating with students, faculty, and campus researchers to support both education and research efforts in the areas of energy production, energy conservation, and the use of renewable energy technologies. A sampling of activities at MU over the last few years include:

Energy Facility Tours – Energy Management tours 800 to 1,000 students annually through the campus energy facilities. The facility tours are customized per the request of the instructor or campus organization to enhance the topic they’re learning or have interest. Tour requests have increased recently for those wanting to see and learn more about the biomass energy system in the plant.

Class Room Guest Lectures – Department energy professionals are routinely invited into the class room to provide presentations on various energy topics. Most presentations in the past few years have been topics related to biomass energy, wind/solar energy, and energy conservation.

Senior Class Capstone Projects – They support senior level design projects referred to as Capstone Projects when requested. Most recently they helped a Capstone Project Design group by providing them information resources which helped them complete a schematic design of a bio-digester combined with a micro combustion turbine using food waste as the fuel source.

Energy Related Internships – Two years ago they hired a PhD candidate in Bio-Engineering as part of an internship program to support his research thesis to demonstrate that a dynamic computational model could be used to accurately model and analyze a biomass supply chain. The student effectively modeled the biomass supply chain for the Campus’s new biomass boiler as part of his research.

Student Employment – The Energy Management department employs MU students on a part time basis to supplement the projects and activities of the department. Typically 6 to 10 students, mostly engineering undergraduates, work in the department part time. This gives these students “real world” experience in the energy industry to prepare them for their future careers.

Energy Related Research Support – Energy Management engineers get engaged in energy related research activities; many of the campus researchers seek input from the department engineers on the viability and applicability of their research to the energy industry. Most of the recent focus has been with the campus Forestry Department with researchers who are researching sourcing of various biomass feed stocks and their applicability as fuel in the energy industry.

On Campus Renewable Energy Projects – In the past couple years, Energy Management significantly increased the campus’s renewable energy portfolio which included the installation of three on-campus projects providing students, faculty, and staff resources to learn about and experience renewable energy technologies. The projects are accessible to classes and campus organizations through scheduled facility tours, as well as access to the energy production data via a web based dashboard. The projects include:
-Solar PV – A 34 KW solar photovoltaic system was installed at the campus power plant in late 2012
-Wind Turbine – A 20 kw wind turbine was installed near the campus General Services Building in late 2012
-Solar Thermal – An evacuated tube solar thermal heating system at the power plant to preheat boiler make up water installed in early 2014

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:

Biological Sciences Professor Candi Galen had her students use the MU Botanical Garden as part of their capstone research. Seniors spent time getting to know one of the many plants, motoring changes. They also gave tours to Friends of the Garden.

Enos Inniss, professor of engineering, and his students helped design the bioretention area for a new student housing complex (VASH) and have installed monitoring equipment there to collect data.

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:


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:

Graduate students, undergraduates and faculty completed a research project that examined impacts of infrastructure on pedestrian behavior. They used a campus intersection as a control site for the study. Information below is from the research abstract by Courtney Schultz (graduate student), Sonja Wilhelm Stanis, PhD, Stephen Sayers, PhD, Ian Thomas, PhD.

"The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of changes to the built environment to determine whether street crossing infrastructure modifications change pedestrian crossing behaviors or traffic patterns in a low-income and predominately racial/ethnic minority community." from Sonja Wilhem Stanis', professor in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, research abstract.


Data collection occurred at one Intervention site (Providence Road) and one Control site (College Avenue) in Columbia, MO. We selected the Control site by examining relevant characteristics of the neighborhood (e.g., size, income level), and the corresponding street (e.g., number of lanes, typical traffic volumes/speeds, pedestrian crossing facilities). Street crossing behaviors were collected using direct observation and assessed the mode of transportation, legality of the crossing (e.g., at intersections/crosswalks or not), as well as race/ethnicity, gender, and age within 5-6 zones at both sites. Magnetic traffic detectors were also embedded in both the Intervention and Control streets during the data collection to capture traffic volume and speed. Data collection ran concurrently at both sites for seven days (Monday-Sunday) over the same two-week period in June 2012 (pre-intervention) and June 2013 (post-intervention), crossing behaviors were recorded for three hours each day (7:30am, 12:30pm, and 3:30pm) while traffic data were collected continuously for 168 hours during the first week.
Descriptive statistics were calculated for all variables. Independent samples t-tests assessed overall changes in pedestrian crossings and traffic volume at each site from 2012 to 2013. Changes in legal/illegal crossings and traffic speed (above the speed limit/below the speed limit) at each site from 2012 to 2013 were analyzed using Pearson’s Chi Square.

The replacement of an unsafe pedestrian bridge with an at-grade, signalized pedestrian crosswalk and landscaped median significantly impacted both pedestrian crossing behaviors and vehicular traffic behaviors. Specifically, the installation of the pedestrian crosswalk yielded reduced proportions of illegal crossings (especially among children), and reduced the percentage of vehicles speeding on the highway through the neighborhood at the Intervention site while the percentage of vehicles speeding at the Control site increased. This study suggests that street crossing infrastructure changes do change behavior, which will help inform future street crossing interventions and may be used to guide policies promoting physical activity in similar communities where high-speed arterials are barriers to parks and active living.

Implications for Practice and Policy
By demonstrating increased pedestrian safety and traffic calming, this study adds support to the feasibility of advocacy efforts to reverse transportation practices that favor automobiles at the expense of pedestrian accessibility. These successful outcomes could be used to support advocacy efforts seeking to modify the built environment to increase physical activity in underserved neighborhoods."

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:

Maryam Nikouei Mehr, a graduate student in engineering, and Ron McGarvey, a professor of engineering, conducted a research project to improve the efficiency of waste collection on campus. This research supported Maryam's MA thesis.

Research identified the potential to reduce the university's solid waste collection contract by $150,000/year by optimizing the locations and sizes of waste receptacles and the frequency of service. Carbon emissions associated with waste collection trucks would also be reduced.

The University and the City of Columbia are currently implementing the recommendations from the research.

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:

Jason Hubbart, professor of forestry, and several of his students and graduate students monitor water quality, flow rates and examine the effectiveness of stormwater mitigation treatments.

Objectives of the MU stormwater quality program include a) to improve understanding and management of surface runoff and water quality on the University of Missouri Campus, b) to provide science-based guidance for best management practices and future management decisions, c) to improve and sustain water quality and aquatic ecosystem health in local receiving water bodies, and d) to disseminate findings and progress to the greater Institutional community and land managers of the built environment.


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 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:

Information from Marlo Goldstein Hode, Chancellor's Diversity Initiative:

Survey with past participants of Diversity 101 (an online course for faculty and staff) revealed that out of complete responses (n=38): 92% of respondents reported that they felt more confident in their ability to engage with individuals who are different from themselves as a result of participating in this online course; 41% reported initiating changes to department policies or practices to be more inclusive; 75% reported that they have made efforts to speak up when people say things that are inappropriate or offensive; and 89% have made an effort to be mindful of when they are applying biases and to stop and question assumptions.

A new initiative from the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative:

MU Communication faculty and Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative staff are collaborating with students in Freshmen Interest Groups on a research project to test what impact six online diversity education lessons and the race of the avatar mentor in each lesson have on student learning and attitudes. (program info from Niki Stanley in CDI).

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:

Information from Lynn Rossy, health psychologist at MU:

Undergraduate and graduate students are involved in implementing and evaluating wellness programs in several ways, including but not limited to:

--ABSTRACT from American Journal of Health Promotions July/August 2014. Authors: Bush, Hannah;
Rossy, Lynn; Mintz, Laurie; Schopp, Laura
"Purpose. To examine the efficacy of a novel intervention for problematic eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction. Design. Participants enrolled in the intervention or waitlist comparison group were assessed at pre and post 10 weeks. Setting. Midwestern university. Subjects. One hundred twenty-four female employees or partners/spouses. Intervention. Eat for Life is a 10-week group intervention integrating mindfulness and intuitive eating skills. Measures. Self-report questionnaires included the Intuitive Eating Scale, Body Appreciation Scale, Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnoses, and an author-constructed supplemental and demographic questionnaire. Analysis. Analyses of covariance and ordinal regression measured group differences. Structural equation modeling examined mediation effects. Results. Significant differences between groups were observed for body appreciation (F1,121 = 40.17, p= .000, partial eta squared= .25), intuitive eating (F1,121 = 67.44, p = .000, partial eta squared= .36), and mindfulness (F1,121 = 30.50, p = .000, partial eta squared= .20), with mean scores significantly higher in the intervention group than waitlist comparison group after 10 weeks. The intervention group was 3.65 times more likely to be asymptomatic for disordered eating than the comparison group. Mindfulness served as a partial mediator. Conclusion. The study provides support for an intervention combining intuitive eating and mindfulness for treatment of problematic eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction, with limitations including self-selection and lack of active control group. ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR

-Nursing students conduct biometric screenings for the campus wellness incentive program for faculty and staff

-At the Missouri Orthopedic Institute, a graduate student piloted a 12-week "Act Healthy" intervention program that examined the effectiveness of peer-support groups in achieving health goals.

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:


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:


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:

Reboot is a mobile/online game created by the Sustainability Office and MU students and is a high-tech scavenger hunt that challenges players to take better care of the Earth. It was funded by a $24,500 grant through the Interdisciplinary Innovations Fund. The game was held over a 10-week period in the spring semester of 2012. More than 100 people participated in the challenge.


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.