New resource: the campus as a living lab

Published on: 
7 Aug 2013
Kristin Ferguson

Providing hands-on learning opportunities for students has been a longtime priority of the Center for Green Schools and has been championed by the USGBC Students programs. Building on the success of Hands-On LEED: Guiding College Student Engagementwe are proud to announce a new resource that walks community colleges through a step-by-step process for utilizing their campus facilities in course curriculum. The Campus as a Living Lab: Using the Built Environment to Revitalize College Education was developed in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges’ SEED Center and targets colleges that have greened their campuses, or are thinking about greening their campuses, creating real-world teaching tools for students across an array of academic and technical programs.

To date, there have been few guides out there that really help two-year colleges bridge the gap between campus facilities greening and education and training. This guide provides innovative yet practical examples of where these efforts are gaining ground and where students are benefitting. Additionally, the guide walks colleges through eight elements that characterize best practices of effective living lab programs on existing campuses. Those eight elements aim to:

  1. Engage the right campus participants
  2. Identify key collegiate programs
  3. Build credibility through engagement and data
  4. Integrate it into the curriculum
  5. Expand beyond individual programs of study
  6. Build partnerships with industry
  7. Engage support beyond the campus
  8. Open your labs to the community

This guide serves as the foundation for a workshop our friends at the SEED Center are conducting on October 4, 2013 at St. Clair County Community College (Port Huron, MI), which is one of the schools featured in the guide. College representatives from the institutions highlighted in the report will work with participants on developing their own campus living lab action plans. Siemens Industry, Inc. and the BEST Center will be co-hosting this event. It will be a great opportunity for college faculty, sustainability officers and facilities staff to learn and become part of a growing group of community college practitioners interested in connecting facilities management and curriculum around sustainability concepts.

To learn more about the release of the living lab resource, please visit AACC’s website.

The Center for Green Schools supports community colleges through Community Green and is currently offering a free year of USGBC membership to community colleges in exchange for deeper engagement on campus with faculty, staff and students around green facilities on campus and green jobs training. If you live in California, Illinois, Texas, Virginia, Washington, your community college is eligible for free LEED Green Associate study materials and exam fees. For more information, please visit the Center for Green Schools website, reach out to your local Community Green Chair or email [email protected]