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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 61.37
Liaison Preston Jacobsen
Submission Date April 3, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Preston Jacobsen
Sustainability Manager
Facilities Services
"---" 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:

An Industrial Engineering graduate student received Student Design/Research Fund monies for the "Technology Upgrade to Filtration in HVAC Units at the University of Tennessee to Reduce Energy and Material Consumption and Improve Indoor Air Quality" project. The abstract reads: "The HVAC units at the University of Tennessee use traditional filtration methods. There is new technology which now allows for higher filtration, reduced energy use, and increased lifecycle i.e. reduced waste. By implementing the technology on one HVAC unit and getting hard data via sub meter, the University can achieve a proof of concept which will allow the new filtration to be rolled out campus wide thereby saving energy and improving indoor air quality for all students. The current estimated ROI for a ‘typical’ system is ~3 years with a product 15 year lifecycle." This project, which began in August of 2015, is ongoing and has now been adopted into the Energy Task Force.


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:

UT Design Services, housed in Facilities Services, offers student internships each semester that provide both undergraduate and graduate students with meaningful, real-world experience in their fields. These students learn about the State of Tennessee Sustainable Design Guidelines and the State of Tennessee High Performance Building Requirements, and they use this knowledge to work on various architectural, interior design, and engineering tasks for Facilities Services departments. The students also contribute to the Long Range Master Plan updates.


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:

During the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semester, the Office of Sustainability provided funding to the Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) department through the Green Fee initiative for four undergraduate students and one graduate student, under the guidance of Dr. Bill Miller, to conduct a study of three technology scenarios to help support UT's demand side management. The technologies studied in the project included vanadium flow batteries, thermal energy storages (TES) using ice-maker heat pumps or phase change materials (PCM), and combined heat and power (CHP) with supplemental dehumidification and comfort cooling. This project studied the electrical load and HVAC power draw of Hodges Library as well as the performance of the VFB as electrical load changes to quantify the power system reliability. Their study has found VFB to be a viable solution, and as of the date of this submission, their funding proposal to move forward with their work has been approved. They are working to set up power instrumentation for the library, to gather the plan and elevation view drawings to show required clearances and location of needed electrical connections, to design and build the benchtop flow battery, and to document the performance of VFB in Hodges to formulate a performance map using simulated load profile to access dynamic loading of VFB. The project results will serve as design guidelines for future VFB retrofits at UT while continuing to provide valuable experience for MABE students, fulfilling the requirements of the MABE Capstone.


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:

Three graduate students authored a policy brief promoting the availability of healthy, sustainable food options on campus to present at the 2016 Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge. This policy, named “Farm to UTK”, was awarded 2nd place in the competition and received $1,000 to help implement and support the policy. The following excerpt from the policy describes it well: “Our policy solution recommends the development of a coordinated, local-food purchasing project between Aramark and UTK. To increase the feasibility of implementation, we chose to focus our policy on improving a single aspect of “real food” identified by the RFC – that it be local or community-based. The RFC loosely defines local or community-based to be foods that are found in nearby, locally-owned farms or businesses. This concept applies facets important to all stakeholders by taking components from the Real Food Challenge and the Farm-to-College model and combining them with the feasible needs from Aramark in order to change the food environment on UTK’s campus. Farm-to-College programs support communities by purchasing from local farmers and providing consumers with fresher produce by minimizing travel time and reducing energy use. Similar to the RFC, local food purchasing as part of this policy, will consider the price and quality of foods, as well as the social and economic factors resulting from each purchase."

http://bakercenter.utk.edu/11-ut-teams-to-compete-at-policy-challenge-sunday-april-24-130-pm/


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:

Students in the People and Environment geography course completed a Human-Environment Interaction Photo Essay assignment. Many of the students chose to focus on human-environment interactions on UT campus. One student in particular highlighted how human activity (erosion and litter) has affected the natural grounds on campus as well as the need for increased education and awareness on the issue.


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:

As of Spring 2017, a Recreation and Sport Management graduate student is conducting research and cultivating a case study regarding the sustainability of Neyland stadium. This case study involves analyzing the purchased goods and purchasing agreements in order to propose changes that can make stadium events more sustainable. The student is receiving guidance and assistance from the campus Sustainability Manager, the Recycling Manager, and the Assistant Athletics Director for Athletic Facilities and Grounds.


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:

A University of Tennessee professor and students collaborated with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and San Diego State University to conduct a project for a sustainable transportation class. The project report, titled "New and Unique Aspects of University Campus Transportation Data to Improve Planning Methods", was submitted for presentation and publication to the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board. This project “describes how two sets of commonly collected data can be leveraged to provide new insights into travel behavior, incentives, and environmental policy. Specifically, [the researchers] illustrate the fusion of standard travel demand survey data with disaggregate and precise household address data of the campus community to provide new inferences into appropriate strategies to improve transportation sustainability. [The authors] apply three use cases – carpool potential, walk and bike incentives, and mode shift to improve greenhouse gas emission – to the data from three universities [and] find that the richer dataset provides substantially better data resolution such that transportation strategies can be more precisely targeted and have bigger impact.”


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:

Students interns in the Recycling Office work on waste minimization through projects on composting techniques, data collection, efficiency and planning, and education and outreach. Student interns work daily in the collection of recycling and compost as well, learning about the day-to-day needs of large recycling and compost pick-up coordination while helping the university to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill.


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:

UT Professors Jon Hathaway and Kelsey Ellis received Green Fee funding for the "Sensing for Sensability: Opportunities for Environmental Education, Research, and Stewardship through Sensing Campus Environmental Data" project. The project proposal explains that "For many in the campus community, little is known about the interactions between the campus environment and weather / climate. Improved data collection in these areas will allow students, faculty, and staff to better understand the microenvironment that is UT, how human activities impact local surface waters and atmosphere, how their local environment changes over time, and how Second Creek responds to changes in weather. These data are highly valuable to the UT community, providing opportunities for education and research by utilizing the stream as a living laboratory. This is valuable to facilitate active learning across numerous departments throughout the university. Gaining a better understanding of what natural resources exist around UT, students will be challenged to discover more about the environment, how their actions affect the local environment, and what actions (such as stream clean-ups) can be taken to improve these valuable resources." Dr. Hathaway, along with his graduate and undergraduate students, completed the probe installation and construction of a secure enclosure for the device. Dr. Ellis and her graduate and undergraduate students oversaw the weather station installation. Since then, water quality, flow, and weather data continue to be analyzed, especially around storm events, in order to observe how the local climate changes conditions in the stream.


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:

A student intern in the Stormwater Management Office is working on updating and maintaining the Stormwater Best Management Practices manual for UT which outlines sustainable practices as policy for UT stormwater projects. The student intern is also assisting in updating the 2013 Stormwater Master Plan as well as developing a stormwater education training program for new Facilities Services employees.

Additionally, one of the Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge projects of 2015 involved a group of students who authored a policy to ban stores on campus from giving out plastic bags. This student project inspired the 2016 Campus Bagless Day.


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:

As a part of the 2015 Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge a team of 5 students worked on a project looking at issues surrounding non-citizen admission to the University of Tennessee. Issues discussed include: a lack of a clear law in Tennessee on whether non-citizen students can attend public universities, the Board of Regents' system-wide policy for all non-UT public universities in Tennessee of admitting non-citizen students, and a history at University of Tennessee of denial of admission to non-citizen students. The students wished to call to attention the conflict between the policies of the Board of Regents and UT's policies and called for local or state policy makers implementing a uniform policy throughout the state.


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:

On September 16, 2014 the Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge started a competition taking real community problems to engage students from across disciplines to work together and with the community to solve issues by creating a state or local policy or a policy-related initiative. Examples of student projects in this competition include: helping TANF clients find employment, engaging students and young people in the democratic system and voting, investment in statewide comprehensive mental health care assessments and referral systems, coordination of supply delivery in urban cores without disturbing vehicle and pedestrian traffic, use of a smart grid to optimize efficiency for measuring and distributing demand, using urban gardens to address food deserts, and housing for the homeless population of Knoxville.


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:

Three students presented their policy submission, titled “Improvement to the University of Tennessee’s Student Health Center” to the 2016 Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge. “The Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge (HBPPC) is a challenging, fun and educational program that requires a semester-long commitment. Begun in 2013, the Challenge is a “real-world” experience that shows students how to make an impact on real issues through the use of public policy, research, analysis and teamwork. The Challenge is open to all UT students.” http://bakercenter.utk.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2016-HBPPC.-DETAILED-Information-Final.12.18.15.pdf

Their policy illustrates issues that students have faced in regards to wait times and lack of service availability, and also proposes solutions to improve the Student Health Center experience.


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:

An undergraduate student conducted a research project on the UT Zero Waste Game Day program. She collected information while volunteering during a game day and also interviewed the program coordinators. She researched other universities strategies for game day waste diversion programs and created a presentation of possible ideas that UT could adopt.


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.