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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 65.89
Liaison Marian Brown
Submission Date Dec. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Wells College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Marian Brown
Director
Center for Sustainability and the Environment
"---" 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:

Either our Environmental Science faculty or the Sustainability Center director have completed the annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the campus with the assistance of a student intern. These annual inventory updates have had the positive outcomes of having operations staff revise their utility record-keeping in order to streamline data collection, and, since we have too few building submeters, provides at least a top-level report on progress made on emissions reductions from specific energy conservation and efficiency measures implemented.


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:

We have had a student intern working to update monthly building-level electricity readings into Energy Star's Portfolio Manager system. This provides facilities leads with critical needed information on how buildings that have submeters are performing and provide valuable feedback about productive energy efficiency measures.

We also supported a Psychology student research project to advance our integration of water bottle fill stations on campus.


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:

As mentioned above, interns are working with documenting energy usage through greenhouse gas emissions inventories and building level data collection. Interns have also assisted with the creation and distribution of energy conservation messaging (lightswitch reminders, computer monitor turn-off messages).


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:

Student interns have worked with Dining Managers to implement new sustainability programs such as eliminating trays, converting from disposable items to bulk service, converting petroleum-based plastics to compostable plastic items, creating a separate compostable waste stream, and increasing local food procurement. This has had the benefit of improving student satisfaction with the dining program's sustainability efforts. Students actively serve on the Dining Hall committee to provide invaluable feedback on existing programs and proposed new efforts.

The student management team of the GRIND, the student run coffee house, actively works to support their "brand" as a more sustainable operation, by integrating fair trade certified and locally sourced products.


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:

Student interns have worked with Grounds heads to develop and implement plans for dining hall food waste composting programs, vermiculture of coffee grounds from the student-run cafe, converting landscape beds to organic garden beds, creating educational garden spaces (Three Sisters demonstration garden, herb garden), and to collect cuttings of landscape plants to hold over winter in the campus greenhouse and replant in the spring.

In Spring 2017, the Introduction to Gardening class designed and built three raised-bed gardens and learned about seed starting in the campus greenhouse and transplanting their seedlings into the garden bed.


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:

Student interns have been involved in suggesting new, more sustainable products to be carried in the Bookstore, as well as new, sustainable office supply products to be carried by Staples through our supplies contract. Students will be assisting with the evaluation of the new vending contract for more energy-efficient beverage equipment. Students have assisted with making the business case for bottled water fill stations (the first 4 being installed in January 2016). Students have also investigated policies related to EPEAT procurement of computers and printers.


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:

Student interns have collected data on the campus fleet and investigated options for more sustainable replacements and have drafted policies related to "best in class" fleet efficiency and anti-idling. An upcoming internship project will be to collect data on commuting habits, an aspect of Scope 3 emissions which has not been analyzed previously. Students serve on the Campus Safety and Transportation Committee and provide invaluable feedback about the college van service.


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 have been involved in developing and implementing the comprehensive, single-stream recycling program on campus, including studying enhanced messaging to improve compliance. Students have been involved in the RecycleMania competitions in which the college has competed. We have experienced steady increases in recycling diversion rates. Students have also studied options for integrating food waste composting in the dining hall.


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:

Students have been involved in campaigns to reduce bottled water waste on campus and to message about water conservation in residence halls. A positive result of the former is the replacement of four older drinking fountains with water bottle fill stations on campus, and development of plans for future replacements and standardization on such fill stations for future construction/renovation projects. Students have assisted with developing business plans for water conserving fixture replacements. We are hampered by the complete lack of building level water meters to measure success in water conservation changes but our central water plant (operated by the College for both the campus and Village) have experienced some decline in the need for potable water production.


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:

Student interns and work-study positions serve as the staff for the Center for Sustainability and the Environment, implementing many of the sustainability-related programs mentioned previously. These students also assist with promotional efforts for sustainability--related activities. We have seen steady increases in the number of sustainability-related events as well as increased attendance at many of them. There is student representation on the campus Curriculum Committee, the All-College Sustainability committee, and the Student-Faculty-Administration Board as well as a Student Trustee position.


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 are actively engaged with faculty and staff on an all-campus Committee for Inclusion & Intercultural Excellence and the Bias Incidence Response Team (BIRT). In terms of Affordability, the Student Trustee is integrally involved in on-going planning discussions between administrators and the Board of Trustees regarding tuition/room & board increases. Positive outcomes are an enhanced perception of inclusion on campus by minority students and few BIRT reports. Students also feel encouraged to submit ideas to operational heads and administrators for cost-saving measures that will assist with affordability.


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:

Student projects have recently focused on divestment and proposing divestment policies to the senior administration for consideration. Senior staff reported back that the College does not have primary holdings in any fossil fuel companies, but they acknowledge they may have some minimal exposure in commingled investment portfolios (reported at 2% in Spring 2017). The senior administration continues to explore making a formal divestment policy might mean in terms of endowment income as well as in attracting new donors.


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:

Student interns are involved in supporting the local community in many ways, including active participation at the local public library, Peachtown School, Aurora Preschool and other programs. Positive outcomes are providing additional staff resources for financially stretched community programs and enhanced learning for students interested in pursuing a career in education. Peachtown School recently undertook a major zero waste initiative; Wells students have been involved in implementing and supporting that school-wide effort.


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:

Student interns work with staffers in the Human Resources office, learning about personnel policies and practices and messaging to employees about various benefits. Student interns are helping to develop the Sustainable Workplace guide for employees and helped distribute reusable beverage mugs to new employees at the start of each Fall semester. Outcomes are enhanced learning for students interested in personnel management fields.


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:

The student-run GRIND cafe provides a real-world business opportunity for students in the Business program for which they receive internship credit. GRIND staffers have incorporated sustainability thinking and practice into their operations, including offering locally-roasted, fair-trade certified coffees, and other fairly traded products, like sugar. They have instituted waste reduction programs like mug discounts and integration of reusable coffee filters. They partner with the Center for Sustainability and the Environment for the GOTCHA card program, which incents users of reusable mugs with a free refill. They have also partnered with the Center to establish a vermiculture composting program using coffee grounds. Student interns have worked with exhibiting artists to mount their shows and provide docent support for String Room Gallery shows, several of which have featured artists working with reclaimed materials.


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.