May 20, 2016 12:31 PM
Pursuing a deeper understanding of sustainability challenges and solutions.
Conn Center - Biofuels
The Sustainability Council envisions the University of Louisville as a living laboratory of sustainability. This means that faculty and students from all disciplines have the opportunity to study the environmental, social and economic challenges to sustainability that exist right here on campus and in our community...and to research solutions that make sense here. For an overview of who is involved in our sustainability research efforts, explore the UofL Sustainability Research Inventory 2012-2015.
UofL Sustainability Scholars Roundtable
Research Minute - Solar Powered Car
Research Minute - Invasive Species
Conn Center - Solar Manufacturing
UofL faculty, staff, and graduate students engaged in research related
to sustainability are encouraged to join us for an on-going series of
Sustainability Scholars Roundtables. More info and profiles of UofL Sustainability Scholars here. We gather several times a year to share research
interests, goals, and projects; hear from external renowned
scholars; have roundtable discussions about sustainability research; and discuss specific
sustainability topics of common interest. Our focus at the start has been on "resilience" -- what is it? how do we understand, measure, analyze, and consider it? how is it similar to or different from sustainability? how can concepts of resilience aid sustainability? etc. Other topics will be developed for the future.
The long-term goals of this initiative are to:
- Develop awareness of sustainability research at UofL;
- Develop networks of scholars to enhance collaboration and sharing of ideas;
- Enhance research grant capacity & opportunities through interdisciplinary proposals;
- Improve & increase sustainability-related research at UofL.
is a project of the UofL Sustainability Council. For
more info, contact Dave Simpson.
Many UofL researchers outside of these centers also conduct studies related to sustainability topics. Many of these studies can be identified using our online reference search tool
and are listed in our inventories of sustainability research at UofL:
- Faculty and students interested in researching sustainability are encouraged to apply for UofL's Intramural Research Incentive Grants:
- Multidisciplinary Research Grant (MRG): The
goal of the MRG program is to identify new areas of promising
multidisciplinary research in the university that will lead to
improvements in federally-funded research competitiveness. The focus is
to seed innovative research activities that have potential for competing
in multidisciplinary extramurally funded grants programs. NSF's
Crosscutting/Interdisciplinary programs and NIH's programs in Biomedical
Engineering are two specific examples, but other federal funding
agencies support multidisciplinary research programs in specific high
priority areas as well. Applicants are required to be full-time faculty
members. Awards will be made up to $10,000 for one year. Application Forms and Deadlines
- Vice President for Research Undergraduate Research Scholar Grant (URS): The primary purpose of a
URS is to enrich the research, scholarship and creative arts experience
of the undergraduate student by involving the student in research
collaboration with a faculty member. The student is expected to become
intellectually involved in design and execution of the research project,
not just serve as "another pair of hands." The undergraduate student
writes the URS proposal after he or she has identified a faculty mentor
who is interested in serving as the mentor. The faculty mentor is
expected to make arrangements for the student to receive up to three
hours of course credit for the research or creative activity and
provide a grade for the work completed by the student. Students are
encouraged to present a poster, or an equivalent demonstration of the
research, on the Undergraduate Research Day. The student may request up
to $300 (dry lab/creative activity) or $500 (wet lab) for supplies and
expenses required for conducting the research or creative activity. URS
proposals may be submitted at any time. They will be reviewed on a
monthly basis. The form can be found on the web. Application Form
- Project Completion Grant (PCG):The primary
purpose of a PCG is to assist faculty who are nearing the end of a
scholarly project and need some ancillary support to bring it to
completion. PCG funds may be used to cover the costs of travel required
to complete the project, manuscript preparation, library computer
searches, release from teaching duties, or other reasonable and
appropriate research expenses. Grants up to $4,000 are provided. Application Forms and Deadlines
- Research Initiation Grant (RIG): The primary
purpose of a RIG is to assist faculty in the initiation of new research
projects. Funds may be used for equipment, expendable supplies, travel
necessary for the conduct of the research, student wages, release from
teaching duties, or other reasonable and appropriate research expenses.
In general, priority is given to new faculty, those entering new areas
of research and scholarship and others who have not previously received
an RIG. Grants up to $5,000 are provided. Application Forms and Deadlines
- Research On Women Grant (ROW): This grant is
available to full- and part-time faculty. The primary purpose of an ROW
grant is to provide support to stimulate scholarship on women and
encourage research on women's issues. Funds may be used for equipment,
expendable supplies, travel necessary for the conduct of the research,
student wages, release from teaching duties, or other reasonable and
appropriate research expenses. Grants are provided up to $4,000. Application Forms and Deadlines
- Undergraduate Research Grants (URG): The
primary purpose of a URG is to enhance the research environment of a
unit by involving undergraduate students in research in collaboration
with a faculty mentor. Special consideration will be given to projects
in which the student is intellectually involved in design and execution
of the research. Students will be expected to provide a written report
on their project participation and have it evaluated by faculty.
Students are encouraged to co-author scholarly research papers with
their mentors. Priority will be given to projects involving UofL
undergraduates and no awards will be made to projects in
which students provide just "another pair of hands." URG funds may be
used for undergraduate student stipends and supplies. They may range
from a 10-week summer project to a full year. Grants up to $3,000 are
provided. Application Forms and Deadlines
- The Office of Community Engagement Faculty Grants Program
fosters UofL faculty and staff projects within the west Louisville
community and Jefferson County. This is a great opportunity for those
interested in weaving community-based sustainability issues into courses
The grant focuses on infrastructure development, research and non-research
projects which hold a community participatory action perspective. Full details and grant
The Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research Faculty Research Fund
helps sponsor, stimulate and disseminate research
relevant to the Louisville community and the U.S. South on social
movements, citizen participation, and public policy reforms around
racial and social justice. Proposals that engage one or more social
justice topics (historical or contemporary) such as race, class, gender,
sexuality, religion, ethnicity, environmentalism, disability, and/or
age will be given preference. Any faculty member in the College of Arts
& Sciences is eligible to apply for a grant of up to $1,000 during a
period not to exceed 12 months (this includes term and part-time
faculty). Proposals that represent faculty/community or faculty/student
collaborations are especially encouraged.
- Students can also seek funding through the Anne Braden Institute's Social Justice Research Awards.
Graduate and undergraduate students from any discipline are asked to
engage one or more social justice topics, with a preference given to
papers engaging race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity,
environmentalism, disability, and/or age. The best two undergraduate
applications receive $100 each, while the best graduate application
- The Summer Research Opportunity Program provides UofL undergraduate students (preferably juniors or sophomores) who would like to know more about graduate-level education at the university, with a 10-week research-intensive experience in a department that offers graduate degrees. Mentors will provide students with individualized research projects. All UofL departments with graduate programs will be supported. Students will receive a stipend of $3,500 for the 10 weeks and the
mentor is eligible for up to $500 to support the student's research and
costs for production of the poster that is required.
Ali Scholars Program, offered by the
Ali Institute for Peace and Justice to full-time undergraduate UofL
students, is a unique 2-year experience combining training, research
and service in the areas of violence prevention and peace building in an
urban living context. A special emphasis is placed on understanding
and addressing the social conditions that impact those issues.
Scholars will receive a $500 scholarship each semester, for a total
scholarship of $2,000.
- Conn Center Fellows:
Want to be involved in advances in renewable energy? The Leigh Ann Conn
Fellows Program is for grads & undergrads planning to conduct
energy-related research. Areas include Solar Decathlon, Solar
Manufacturing R&D, Biofuels/Biomass R&D, and Materials
Discovery/Manufacturing. Full info and application details here.
- UofL faculty and students are encouraged to apply for grants through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program: The EPA offers annual research grants to U.S. colleges and universities to engage students in projects to solve our world's most serious environmental challenges. Through its P3 program, students working on teams design sustainability solutions and compete for more funding to take their ideas from the lab to the real world. EPA's P3 program fosters team-based learning, interdisciplinary effort and class-to-real-world experience.
- KREC Competitive Grants Program (FY2008-2011)
The Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium (KREC), administered by the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) at UofL's J.B. Speed School of Engineering, encouraged faculty research through the Competitive Grants Program. KREC advanced and funded innovative research on renewable energy and energy efficiency that focuses on developing resource-responsible technologies and practices for the energy sector. A total of $864,000 was awarded to seven recipients in the latest round of grants. Though grant funding has expired, you can still join KREC on
Facebook to share information, discuss ideas, ask questions or post items of interest to the renewable energy community and help get the word out about what's happening in renewable energy and energy efficiency in Kentucky!
In our efforts to make UofL into a living laboratory of sustainability, the Council seeks researchers and faculty collaborators from all disciplines to work directly with us and to sponsor students (GRAs, interns, work-study, service learning, class projects, volunteers, etc.) to help us investigate ways to improve and enhance sustainability. If you want to get connected with other researchers or potential projects on campus, please contact the assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives, Justin Mog, justin.mog (at) louisville.edu. UofL has many concrete sustainability research needs, including the following vital efforts:
- Metrics for Sustainability: Gathering and analyzing data about campus sustainability
- Greenhouse gas emissions accounting, offsetting and reduction strategies
- Socially-Responsible Investment strategies, policies, practices, and opportunities
- Renewable energy pilot projects (biofuels, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro) - design, siting, monitoring, etc.
- Effective communication strategies for behavior modification & culture change (e.g. recycling, commuting, food - local/healthy/less meat, smoke-free campus, on-campus energy/water conservation, etc.)
- Transportation choices, commuter behaviors, parking subsidies, and system improvements
- Human Resource management strategies for sustainability
- Green Purchasing: Product life-cycle analysis (ecological footprints)
- Sustainable Landscapes: Organic campus food gardens & orchards, landscape management, native landscaping, campus trees, wildlife habitat, ecological services, etc.
- Storm water management projects and monitoring (e.g. rain gardens,
vegetated roofs, water catchment systems, infiltration systems, pervious
- Community-scale composting and vermiculture
- Consumer behavior studies around food choices, bottled water usage, waste production, and green purchasing
- UofL EcoReps - Sustainability training, leadership and advocacy strategies
- Campus Farmers Markets - Sustaining markets, engaging customers, supporting vendors, reaching the under-served, etc.
- Diversity & Affordability studies and support programs
- Model Green Room designs, monitoring, user-studies, educational tools, etc.
- Building Dashboards and Conservation Competitions as engagement and educational tools
- Community Engagement strategies for sustainability
- Computer management strategies for energy and resource conservation
- University Housing: Engaging and educating campus residents about sustainability
- Sustainability in Campus Master Planning and building design
- Curriculum development and interdisciplinary education strategies for sustainability
- Waste Reduction strategies and systems
Examples of previous Campus As A Living Laboratory of Sustainability projects at UofL include:
- Spring 2016: Maple Tapping
28 non-science-major students in a new Sustainable Community Engagement section of BIOL 104-15 - Laboratory for Introduction to Biological Systems (Thursdays 9:30am-11:20am) taught by CEHD PhD candidate Melissa Michael (with guidance from Biology professor Linda Fuselier) tapped 12 maple trees (two sugar maples and ten red maples) on Belknap campus to gather sap for syrup, learn about the process, and study the environmental conditions that influence it. Taps and sap buckets were installed 2/18/16 – 3/11/16 on maples near the College of Education, the Interfaith Center (near the base of the SAC Ramp), and Schneider Hall. UofL's maple trees on campus have never been tapped before, so students, faculty and staff are involved in learning about a new urban agroforestry resource on campus. The students split into seven groups to design experiments and gather data while collecting the sap. The sap was processed into 2 quarts of syrup by Dave Barker, a community-partner who operates an artisanal sugar shack in Lyndon. Students were invited to an optional field trip out to the sugar shack in March. In April, the students intended to present the results of their studies to the university community at the April 12th University Wide Undergraduate Research and Community Engagement Symposium and the Sustainability Council’s meetings on April 15th: EcoReps Lunch & Learn Workshop (noon); and Engagement Committee meeting (1pm) both in Ekstrom W210. The data collected was not accurate enough to share useful results, so the student presentations were canceled. The workshop, however, preceded with the instructors sharing the process and the maple tapping experience and it also served as a Pancake Party for everyone to enjoy some of the UofL syrup! Photos. Video.
Maple tapping project a first for Belknap Campus trees (UofL News, April 25, 2016).
Melissa Michael describes class project to tap maple trees on campus for syrup (starts 23:08) (UofL Today with Mark Hebert, 93.9 FM The Ville, April 12, 2016). VIDEO (starts 20:08).
- Spring 2016: Bike/Walk Lane Awareness Project
For his practicum project, Corey Scott, a second year graduate student in the Communications Masters Program, took on the UofL Sustainability Council as a client and surveyed 219 students about their attitudes, norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavioral intention with respect to bike/walk lanes on and around campus. The project gauged student’s awareness and opinion about the lanes we have and their intentions and desires to use them properly. Designated lanes both on campus paths and on surrounding streets were found to be of value, safe, and desirable for both pedestrians and cyclists. The study documented a strong desire to see more designated lanes installed on more paths and streets around campus. Additional recommendations from the study included implementing a communication campaign to influence attitudes about the lanes (e.g. “The safest path to success!”) and to provide confidence-building tips and training for cyclists (especially older riders) about using the streets safely. The project was advised by Communication Professors Lindsay Della & Jasmine Wang.
- On-Going: Native Plant Garden
In Spring 2016, the Biology Department coordinated with the Grounds crew and Dropseed Nursery to remove an unused lawn area next to the Life Sciences building and replace it with a native plant living lab. The garden serves a number of our Biology labs by providing on-campus access to native plants as well as the insects such plants would attract. A number of our courses benefit from having such an area including Entomology (for the insects), Plant Taxonomy, Medicinal Plant Biochemistry, Ecology, and perhaps Animal Behavior. The garden also engages donors and participation from the Beechmont Garden Club as well as Botanica.
- On-Going: Longitudinal UofL Commuter Survey
Since 2010, graduate students and faculty in the Department of Urban & Public Affairs have collaborated with staff from Sustainability (Provost's Office), Institutional Research, and Parking and Transportation Services to design and implement an on-going longitudinal study of the commuting habits and attitudes of UofL students, faculty and staff. Students in Professor John Gilderbloom's spring 2010 course UPA 680-01 URBAN RESEARCH SEMINAR were involved in designing and pre-testing the initial survey instrument administered by Institutional Research. Questions explored not only commuting habits by demographics, but willingness to consider alternative modes and barriers to their use. Graduate students took the lead in analyzing the resulting data which was used to set a baseline for the Sustainability Council's effort to document greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a plan to reduce vehicle miles traveled to campus. In fall 2012, the Sustainability Council launched a full suite of transportation alternatives (free bikeshare, Earn-A-Bike, carpool matching, and carshare in addition to free transit). The impact of these new programs was assessed by a follow-up survey conducted in spring 2013. This survey was also a collaboration between staff in university administration and Urban & Public Affairs professor Frank Goetzke (serving as Principle Investigator) and graduate research assistants who again helped revise and pre-test the survey instrument and analyze the data. A third follow-up survey in the longitudinal study was conducted in fall 2015, with Urban & Public Affairs professor Dave Simpson serving as Principle Investigator and graduate research assistants again involved in revising and pre-test the survey instrument and analyzing the data. The longitudinal study has been pivotal to informing the Sustainability Council's on-going work to provide a full suite of transportation alternatives that meet the needs of our evolving campus population. We have been successful in reducing vehicle miles traveled and shifting the mode share in both the student and employee populations.
- On-Going: Passive Solar Test Facility
We are investigating renewable energy options to passively heat & cool UofL buildings. At Burhans Hall on our Shelby campus, in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium, UofL's Renewable Energy Applications Laboratory (REAL) installed an experimental solar heat pipe wall for indoor climate control that may prove to be twice as efficient as other solar systems in places such as Louisville with moderate sun and cold winters. In 2011, the system was moved for further experimentation and monitoring to a new Passive Solar Test Facility constructed at the Speed School of Engineering at the Brook Street railroad fly-over, just south of Eastern Pkwy. This is the only such device of its kind in the world. The walls, floor and roof are built with structural insulated panels (SIP’s). The building is divided into two rooms with an insulated interior wall to allow side-by-side testing of two systems. Currently installed are two solar heat pipe systems, which produce net heat gains approximately twice as large as typical direct gain systems. Heating performance of these two prototypes has been compared, and strategies for reducing unwanted gains during the summer have also been tested. These experiments were funded by the Department of Energy, and are reported in the following articles:
1. Robinson BS & Sharp MK, “Reducing unwanted gains during the cooling season for a solar heat pipe system,” Solar Energy 115:16-32, 2015.
2. Robinson BS & Sharp MK, “Heating season performance improvements for a solar heat pipe system,” Solar Energy 110:39-49, 2014.
3. Robinson BS, Chmielewski NE, Knox Kelecy A, Brehob EG, Sharp MK, “Heating season performance of a full-scale heat pipe assisted solar wall,” Solar Energy 87:76–83, 2013.
- On-Going: Certificate in Diversity Literacy
The Certificate in Diversity Literacy provides a unique opportunity for students who have already earned bachelor’s degrees to enhance their knowledge and skills of the theory and practice of inclusion and equity, including what diversity means, what its personal and social effects are, and how it shapes lives, workplaces, and pedagogy. All students in the program are required to complete a Capstone in Diversity Literacy course in which students must conceive and develop a culminating project that advances diversity in each student's chosen field.
- On-Going: Office of Health Promotion
The mission of UofL's Office of Health Promotion is to collaborate to build a campus community that promotes vitality, resilience, health and academic excellence. To achieve this goal, the Office employs professional and student staff as well as volunteers and interns in order to provide relevant, accurate and non-judgmental programs services, advocacy, peer mentorship and increased access to health-promoting options. The Office takes a data-driven approach to improving public health on campus and is constantly innovating, studying and evaluating the impact of interventions and campaigns. The Office works in close collaboration with the UofL Sustainability Council and the Get Healthy Now employee wellness program.
- On-Going: The Phoenix House
UofL Civil Engineering professor W. Mark McGinley, who led the University of Louisville/Ball State University team for the 2013 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, has involved his team of students, staff, and faculty in reconfiguring the student-built “Phoenix House” into the new administrative offices for UofL's Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. The Phoenix House serves as a living laboratory for projects on solar, energy storage, geothermal systems, and building envelope studies to continually develop data toward smart and energy efficient homes.
- On-Going: Ali Scholars
The Ali Scholars Program, offered to full-time undergraduate University of Louisville students, is a unique multi-year experience combining training, research and service in the areas of violence prevention, social justice and peacemaking in an urban living context. A special emphasis is placed on understanding and addressing the social conditions that impact those issues. Through their work with UofL's Muhammad Ali Institute, Ali Scholars develop expertise on a topic of their choice by participating in seminars with renowned practitioners, educators and activists. The Ali Scholars employ a practical solution-based approach as they produce scholarly research related to their “expert area” and its impact locally and globally. Equipped with a solid knowledge base and organizing skills, the Ali Scholars provide service hosting on-campus events, furthering the work of the Ali Institute and working alongside campus, local, national and international practitioners in their expert areas. Through the Ali Scholars program, students acquire both the intellectual and practical training to take action and leadership on issues of peace, violence prevention and social justice at home and abroad. Ali Scholars are expected to provide service to campus, local, national or international organizations and efforts related to peace and social justice.
- On-Going: Dual-Axis Tracking Solar Array
The computer controlled dual-axis tracking solar array on Sackett Hall at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering produces both electricity (2 kW) and hot water for the building. It is the only such tracking array in Kentucky, and is intended for research, development and education, while supplying a portion of the building's electricity and hot water. Because it is able to track the sun precisely throughout the day and across the seasons, it is 30% more efficient than fixed solar panels. The two solar thermal collectors in the center of the array provide nearly 100% of the building's hot water in the summer, and ten photovoltaic panels feed enough electricity into the grid to power the building's computer laboratory. Real-time data on how much energy the system is capturing is available on a monitor inside the building and online here.
- On-Going: Get Healthy Now
UofL's employee wellness program, Get Healthy Now, offers students a variety of opportunities to use the campus population as a living laboratory for improving health and wellness. Through the program, students can enjoy an enriched academic experience while applying classroom knowledge in the real-world. Students are given hands-on opportunities to perform health and fitness assessments, develop health education programming, wellness coach, and create marketing materials. Participants gain practical and professional experience while networking with others in the field through: Wellness Coaching Internships and Externships; and Fitness Facility Internships; an Interdisciplinary Wellness Coaching Minor; and a Federal Work Study Program.
- On-Going: Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research
UofL's Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research was founded in 2006 to honor the work and legacy of longtime racial justice organizer, educator and journalist Anne Braden. The Institute seeks to advance public understanding of the U.S. civil rights movement, both its powerful history and its unfinished agenda of racial and social justice. Our vision is that scholarship and activism inform and strengthen each other and sustain social justice locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Our mission is to bridge the gap between academic research and community activism for racial and social justice. To do so, we stimulate and support initiatives and programs that cultivate dialogue and cooperation between scholarship and activism. We focus on the modern African American freedom movement, other modern peace and social justice movements, and the intersections among racial, economic, gender, and wider social justice. Because the Institute’s work grows out of U.S. history, with its legacy of white supremacy, we see race/racism as central elements in all aspects of social justice in the United States. Our work aims at uncovering those connections and at the successful bridging of racial divides, with a special focus on the Louisville community and the U.S. South.
- Summer/Fall 2015: Biological Processes of Campus Composting
33 non-science-major students in a new Sustainable Community Engagement section of BIOL 104 - Laboratory for Introduction to Biological Systems run by Professor Linda Fuselier used the university’s Community Composting operations as an opportunity to study the biological processes of decomposition and factors associated with successful composting operations for organic waste streams from the campus and surrounding partners. Since July 2010, volunteers have been collecting food wastes for on-campus composting from some UofL Dining Service outlets, area coffee shops, residence halls, and other community sources, but this was the first time that the operation was used as a living lab for a class research project. Students were divided into small groups, each of which designed different experiments associated with various stages of the composting process from leaf litter piles to primary food waste composting bins to vermiculture bins to finished compost used as organic fertilizer in the campus’ Garden Commons raised beds.
- 2014-15: Student Recommendations for Improving Local Transit
- FALL 2015: UPA 680-76 Special Topics: Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
At the request of TARC (Transit Authority of River City), UofL students worked on a group final project to produce recommendations for improving local transit with a final presentation, 30-page report and discussion with TARC staff. Report: Social Sustainability Guidelines and Metrics for Transportation in Louisville: A Proposal for TARC's APTA Sustainability Commitment
Authors: Ariel E. Weaver, Peter Williams, Nathan Wright, Ashley Woolsey, and Erin Yenney
- SPRING 2015: UPA 680-75 Special Topics: Behavior & Environmental Sustainability (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
Students collaborated to present their ideas about how to promote mass transit ridership among people working in downtown Louisville to TARC and UofL Sustainability Council reps.
- FALL 2014: UPA 680-75 Special Topics: Urban Environments and Sustainability (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
Graduate students worked together throughout the semester to understand the factors that may be shaping use of alternative transportation in Louisville, and they also worked to create a survey that may be used (e.g., by the Partnership for a Green City and/or UofL's Sustainability Council) to assess psychological and social-ecological barriers to alternative transportation use.
- SPRING 2014: UPA 680-75 Special Topics: Behavioral Dimensions in Urban Sustainability (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
Students identified improving ridership of TARC as their course project and produced a final report and presentation for the UofL Sustainability Council.
- Fall 2013: Real Food Challenge
Students in Anthropology Professor Jeneen Wiche's ANTH 352 - Food & Body Politic class explored the emerging campaign of the Real Food Challenge and its applicability to UofL. The students were instrumental in getting UofL to sign onto the Real Food Challenge that semester. In spring 2014, the Antropology Department sponsored an independent study course in which students worked with Professor Wiche and UofL Dining Services staff to conduct the university’s first audit using the Real Food Challenge calculator. It was decided to audit Dining Services food procurement for the months of September 2013 and February 2014 so as to capture one month in which it is relatively easy to buy local and one month with less local food availability. Food procurement invoices were gathered for select dining facilities (Cardinal Burger Company, The Ville Grill, and Garden Toss) and students got hands-on learning experience in the process of entering the line-items of food into the RFC calculator. Once the information is entered, students did research to evaluate what qualifies as “real food” based on the national criteria, including terms such as real, humane, local, sustainable, worker friendly, etc. In addition, students took two field trips to explore the local food system: a tour of Creation Gardens at the produce terminal in Louisville and another at Gallrein Farm in Bagdad, KY. This campus as a living lab initiative got the university started on an on-going process of transforming Dining Services procurement to be better aligned with the goals of the Real Food Challenge. In the 2015-16 academic year, the on-campus Real Food Challenge has taken on a more student-led approach, including demands for more stringent sustainable procurement and living wage requirements in the new Dining Services contract that the university is currently negotiating.
- 2011: Storm Water Management - Infiltration Study
When UofL launched an extensive initiative in partnership with Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District to install new storm water management systems in 2011, it did so with an important campus as a living lab component. Student, faculty, and staff researchers from UofL's Center for Infrastructure Research installed monitoring equipment to study infiltration rates, storage capacity, and the performance of various infiltration basin designs on Belknap campus. Many traditional-looking parking lots, plazas and lawns across campus now conceal advanced storm water infiltration systems. Instead of draining to the combined sewer system, these areas drain to large underground infiltration basins capable of handling huge rainfall events and the water from surrounding rooftops. These designs were included in the following projects (with the square footage of impervious surface area mitigated in parentheses):
1. Ekstrom Library western lawn - completed in fall 2012, this infiltration system captures roof run-off from surrounding buildings (108,000 sf)
2. The UTA/Ville Grill plaza renovated in 2011. (14,550 sf)
3. The Red Barn plaza renovated in 2011. (4,120 sf)
4. The Grawemeyer Oval lawn renovated in 2011. (76,368 sf)
5. The College of Business parking lot renovated in 2011. (86,052 sf)
6. The parking lot behind Bettie Johnson Hall, the Urban Studies Institute, and University Planning, Design & Construction renovated in 2011. (67,629 sf)
7. The Speed Museum expansion project has been designed with a large infiltration basin beneath the plaza which will be able to handle roof drainage from Strickler Hall, Life Sciences, and the College of Business. (94,304 sf)
8. The new Student Recreation Center opened in October 2013 with an infiltration system that is larger than originally planned. It has a connected load that captures rainwater from most of the land surrounding Billy Minardi Hall as well. (317,115 sf).