This map-based exhibit highlights recently completed, ongoing and upcoming Campus as Lab projects conducted by students. The projects represent a wide range of research efforts from independent work, fall coursework, and extracurricular activities. Projects are located on the map based on the campus system studied. General information about each project is provided, along with a suggested research idea for further study. In addition to these five projects, students in the fall seminar, ENV 327: Investigating an Ethos of Sustainability at Princeton, proposed demonstration-scale recommendations to strengthen the sustainability ethos on campus, while also demonstrating scalable or repeatable solutions to tackle global sustainability challenges. Read a summary of all the students’ recommendations.
In addition, there is also an interactive campus map with weekly questions that will help the Campus as Lab team learn more about where there may be opportunities for Campus as Lab research. The responses to these questions are available on our website.
Food Waste in Dining Halls
Vivek Dinodia ’17, Gabriella Chu ’18, Tiffany Chen ’17
Project Type: EGR 488 course project
In an effort to reduce the university’s food waste, the team is launching an awareness campaign in partnership with Campus Dining this spring. The team will place five posters with different messages across the six dining halls, and will compare the amount of food wasted before and after the study to assess the effectiveness of the posters.
Suggested Future Research Opportunity: Which pathway is more comprehensively sustainable (in terms of cost, energy use, etc.) for food waste conversion: Composting or energy production via biodigestion?
The Pink House
The Pink House at 99 Alexander Street at Forbes College serves as a sustainable living and learning community for a group of juniors and seniors. This year’s goal has been focused on social justice by demonstrating low-cost
sustainable practices such as serving vegetarian dinners at regularly-hosted events. The students practice sustainable daily habits such as air-drying laundry and minimizing water usage for showers. Upcoming events include installing a rain barrel as an alternate water source and inviting local elementary school students for a tour.
Rutwik Kharkar, a graduate student in the EEB department, is analyzing the spread of awareness of sustainability from Pink House activities and its behavioral impact on food choices.
Suggested Future Research Opportunity: Design an app that incorporates campus-wide data to compare individual energy usage with average usage and encourage individuals to track their energy consumption.
Green Roof Biodiversity
Quinn Parker ’18 and Mitchel Charles ’18
Project Type: EEB 321 course project
The students tracked the presence of species on the green roofs of the Wawa (pictured), Yoseloff Hall in Butler College, and Sherrerd Hall to determine which type of green roof is most conducive to promoting biodiversity. They concluded that green roofs that most closely resemble the area’s natural environment, like the Wawa roof with its native plants, are most successful in creating and maintaining multiple trophic levels of species, and thus have greater biodiversity.
Suggested Future Research Opportunity: Conduct an additional analysis of campus green roofs to discover which type of roof provides the greatest overall benefits, beyond biodiversity. Benefits could include building energy usage, stormwater runoff, CO2 sequestration, protection from UV radiation and aesthetics.
Abby Van Soest ‘18
Project Type: COS IW02 Policy Issues in the Internet of Things
Using occupancy data from a smart-lighting pilot project implemented in Bloomberg Hall, Abby developed a novel method for reducing wasted energy from dorm corridor lighting, while valuing the user experience. She found that using data derived from the local history of an occupancy sensor can improve the responsiveness of lighting systems to real-time demand. By turning the lights off more frequently, energy usage can be avoided, with only a moderate, justifiable
impact on the subjective experience.
Suggested Future Research Opportunity: Evaluate the psychological, social, and cognitive effects of entering dark spaces to more accurately quantify the cost and benefit of turning dorm corridor lights off more frequently.
Electric Boat Motor
Ben Sorkin ’17, Kirk Robinson ’17, Austin Pruitt ‘17, Isaac Illivicky ‘17, Rachel Herrera ‘17, Mark Scerbo ‘18, Coleman Merchant ‘19
Project Type: MAE Independent project culminating in a MAE senior thesis
The students are developing an electric boat motor and battery system to improve the environmental performance of the varsity crew team’s coach boats. Relative to gas motors, electric motors result in fewer carbon emissions, do not discharge harmful pollutants, and can perform better overall. The crew team will test the motor this spring on Lake Carnegie. If it outperforms a gas motor in terms of speed, reliability, and maintenance, the crew team will consider scaling up the electric motor to its entire fleet of coach boats.
Suggested Future Research Opportunity: Collect baseline data on water clarity, oxygen levels, and organic carbon in Lake Carnegie to determine the effect of gasoline loads on water quality.
The small exhibit case features examples of how students and faculty are using the campus as a living lab to study sustainability issues. On display: Butler Green Roof research, Solar Picnic Table, Examples of High Meadows funded Campus as Lab projects and Rammed Earth Structures.
Soil, one of the earliest known building materials, has experienced a resurgence in popularity as a sustainable alternative to concrete. Professor Sigrid Adriaenssens of the CEE Department is exploring how rammed earth made from local soil can function as a sustainable building material in New Jersey’s humid climate.
Using a rammed earth wall constructed at the Forbes Garden, the team will evaluate the ideal wall curvature, design and test erosion protection systems, and monitor the durability of the structures over the next year.
Students in ARC 311 were tasked with designing a functional solar picnic table.
Professor Forrest Meggers designed a solar system for the roof, and taught the student designers how to calculate sun angles and determine the placement of the panel.
As a part of the design research for the project, Meggers developed a concept to have a lightweight 100W panel track the sun while simultaneously shading the area for laptop work. In addition, a system for battery storage, charge controlling, and data streaming and web interactivity was included.
The solar picnic table is currently being displayed at the Andlinger Center.
The Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), has conducted research on the Butler College green roof system since its installation in 2009, assessing various energy- and stormwater-related performance factors. Compared to a conventional roof, the research has shown the following:
• In most cases, in light to moderate rain events, the green roof delays and lowers the rate and volume of stormwater runoff; stormwater mitigation is directly related to soil moisture content before the rain event.
• The green roof demonstrates significantly smaller variability and peak values in surface temperature.
The exhibit includes an interactive campus map with weekly questions that will help the Campus as Lab team learn more about where there may be opportunities for Campus as Lab research. The responses to these questions are available on our website.