Campus sustainability and climate action initiatives connect to a diverse and fascinating spectrum of issues ranging from the philosophical and moral (how do we consider the social cost of carbon and the urgency of environmental justice) to the deeply technical and practical (how can we build net zero infrastructure and renewable-based operations), extending into the psychological (what motivates change? is climate anxiety real?). From politics, business and law to the natural sciences and humanities, sustainability issues are directly connected to the important topics discussed in our classrooms every day, and campus sustainability projects can make great learning opportunities.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) offers resources and workshops on integrating sustainability across the curriculum, including the Guide for Applied Sustainability Learning and Projects. For a copy of the guide and more information on connecting with AASHE and other resources, contact the Office of Sustainability and Energy Education (OSEE).
Already have a sense of how you would like to incorporate sustainability in your class but looking for campus projects to serve as a case study or applied learning opportunity? Below is a list of sustainability resources, data types and initiatives to consider. Contact OSEE director Jane Stewart for additional information and enthusiastic brainstorming.
The Climate Action Plan Overview of campus emissions reduction goals and strategies.
W&L's 11 MW Off-Site Solar Project (construction currently underway, news release here) Project development involved, among other factors, state energy regulatory policy, renewable energy analysis, financial analysis, energy grid assessment, additionality assessment. Site construction and management connects with trade policy, land-use, sustainable landscaping. Site visits possible.
LEED Certification W&L's commitment to the U.S. Green Building Council's environmental building certification. Opportunity to understand intersecting environmental and economic considerations at every level of design and construction.
W&L's No Idling Policy Opportunity to review challenges between policy creation and implementation. Opportunity to create awareness campaign and measure results.
W&L's Energy Dashboard Provides live-data on electricity use across campus, including heat maps revealing detailed time of day consumption. Opportunity to create awareness campaign and measure results. In Village Housing, results can be measured on an individual unit basis.
Campus Utility Data All electricity, natural gas and water data is closely tracked and available for use in class exercises. Opportunity to create awareness campaign and measure results.
Campus Waste Data - Landfill, Compost, and Recycling data are tracked and available for use in class exercises. Opportunity to create awareness campaign and measure results.
Greenhouse Gas Report The results of W&L's annual greenhouse gas report are publicly available. Student access to detailed data fields, data collection methodology etc. is available on request through the director of sustainability.
On-Campus Solar Arrays solar production data from the three on-campus arrays is available here. Physical access to PV arrays and the solar thermal array can be coordinated through the Office of Sustainability and Energy Education in collaboration with the University Engineer.
The Campus Garden The garden offers designated space for research and class visits and projects.
For faculty interested in building a hands-on project around a garden need, OSEE is currently welcoming interest in:
a) Design and construction of a shade structure. Innovative design encouraged!
b) Artistic signage for planting beds. Designs to be developed for practical function while incorporating ethos of the naturalistic approach in the garden.
The University Power Plant Tours of the plant, where the boilers and chillers that heat and cool campus are located, can be coordinated through the OSEE in coordination with the Heating and Cooling Plant Supervisor.