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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 51.34
Liaison Kat Pohlman
Submission Date April 26, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of North Carolina, Wilmington
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Kathryn Pohlman
Sustainability Coordinator
EH&S
"---" 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 Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No
Public Engagement No
Other No

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:

A group of faculty and yearly volunteers and interns have been working for many years on assessing the pollution found in rain in our area. Because of UNCW's location, there are three types of thunderstorms; those that come from the west, those that come from over the ocean and local storms that generate locally. Some of the research on the rain water includes for global carbon cycling in the atmosphere and water column, effects of global warming and sea level rise on the re-mineralization of organic matter in the coastal and estuarine sediments, and isotopic characterization of carbon to elucidate sources and cycling of organic matter.


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:

A Sustainability Intern performed a green house gas emissions calculation project that where he was able to use field observing not only how energy is used behind the scenes on campus, but also experiencing first hand how energy is conserved on campus. Through this work he was able to get a real world view of how boiler systems work and some of the challenges in effectively heating water while minimizing waste heat. Additionally, he learned how to run green house gas permitting calculations. The results of his study will be utilized in the upcoming Greenhouse Gas Inventory to guide the university to carbon neutrality by 2050.


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:

A aquaponics demonstration project in the main dining hall serves as an ongoing directed independent study for a student each semester. They are able to study the water chemistry, basics of raising Tilapia, and horticulture of growing herbs in an aquaponics system. The importance of eating "local" is also studied as a part of this study. Students who work on the project as well as any student eating in these dining areas are exposed to this unique system of growing and why it is possible for plants to grow without soil.


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:

A "Shut the Sash" campaign is currently underway with as a directed independent study. The student has worked with the Energy Manager to calibrate the best measurements for fume hood sash data. She is comparing one week of control behavior to the energy savings and change in behavior when students, professors and teachers assistants are educated on the affects that sash level has on energy savings. We will use this data to create hard facts for teaching tools, signage and ultimately energy savings.


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:

UNCW's campus has several "pocket forests" filled with a variety of flora and fauna, but is dominated by Long Leaf Pine trees. These forests where Long Leaf Pines naturally grow go through a cycle of burning in order to clear underbrush and regulate competition from oak trees. Several classes including ecology, sustainability and plant biology study this cycle and gauge the vitality of these forests as a result of prescribed burning.


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 directed independent study is being performed by a student on the UNCW Sustainability Council to create a cost-benefit analysis of replacing electronics on campus with energy efficient alternatives. How many of each appliance, their energy usage and the cost to replace with newer, more energy efficient models. These students not only analyze the decisions made by the university on appliances, but also begin to understand purchasing on the State level.


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:

UNCW prides itself on being a pedestrian campus. In order to encourage less driving on campus, provide alternative transportation for international students, and to encourage alternative transportation a student is studying the cost-benefit of installing a bike share system. Although there are limited monetary benefits to a free bike share program, the fringe benefits can be positive for the health of the campus community and reduction in the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the university.


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 Environmental Policy Analysis class performs a yearly waste audit on several of the main campus buildings. The trends from these waste audits are used to analyze changes needed in amount of recycling containers per building, where more education about waste diversion needs to be focused and what types of true trash are being created in order to find alternatives for those items.


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:

When the University grew to have >25% impervious cover and thus had to start building storm water management systems under Phase I rules, the Physical Plant people asked the Department of Biology and Marine Biology how they could design and build ponds for storm water management that would also assist us in teaching about water quality.These ponds are now used for field work in the Limnology course. A couple other ponds on campus built for storm water management for the similar purposes.


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:

Coordinating with several federal and state agencies, including US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Public Health, and others, UNCW students and researchers are assisting the nearby Town of Navassa in planning for the redevelopment of a large Superfund site, developing a land-use plan for development related to I-40 expansion project, as well as providing needed health services. The goal of this project is to empower a historically underserved community with information to make decisions that will shape the future of their town in light of their goals and vision. Specifically, UNCW is working with the Town of Navassa to provide health screenings, determine restoration options for the Superfund site, develop a comprehensive land-use plan that includes the two new highway interchanges, as well as develop local social and environment policies to protect natural resources and preserve the Gullah-Geechee cultural heritage.


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:
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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:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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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.