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2015 Sustainability Challenge Grant Recipients:

University of Kentucky Food Summit Project Abstract 

Big Blue Impact: Making Sustainability Visible Project Abstract

Development of Sustainable Bus Stops Project Abstract

Campus Tree Initiative Project Abstract

Arboretum Drive BioSwale Demonstration Project Abstract

Empowerment for North Limestone Neighborhood Sustainability Project Abstract

Cultivating Place for a Sustainable Community: Revitalizing the Shawneetown Community Garden Project Abstract

2015 Project Abstracts


University of Kentucky Food Summit - Awarded $6690 

In Collaboration with the UK Food Connection, the Food Systems Initiative of the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment (TFISE_FSI) will use this funding to host the University of Kentucky's first Food Summit in the fall of 2015. The UK Food Summit will bring community food advocates from across the state together with students, faculty and employees on the campus to explore ways to build a sustainable, healthy and socially-just food system. Planning and coordination of the summit will involve two primary components: 1) A study to evaluate concerns and attitudes toward food-related issues among faculty, staff and students and 2) organizing and hosting the summit. Our long-term vision for the UK Food Summit is to develop a blueprint for developing the University of Kentucky as a national leader in research, instruction and engagement initiatives centered on building a sustainable, healthy and socially-just food system.

Team members: Krista Jacobsen and Mark Williamson, Horticulture; Keiko Tanaka, Community and Leadership Development; Scott Smith, UK Food Connection; Walter Brown and Jordan Bressler, Campus Pantry & Dietetics; Lisa Higgins-Hord, Office of Community Engagement; Janet Mullins, Dietetics & Human Nutrition; Sarah Lyon, Anthropology: Tad Mutersbaugh, Geography; Michael Pennell, Instructional Communication and Research; Doug Slaymaker, Modern & Classical Languages & Literature; and Mark Swanson, College of Public Health.

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Big Blue Impact: Making Sustainability Visible - Awarded $10,000 

Our project,Big Blue Impact (BBI) | Making Sustainability Visible, is an emerging pluridisciplinary collaboration inherently crossing the fields of design—architecture, learning, psychology, statistics, fine arts, physics, building engineering, and biotechnology. This proof-of-concept pilot study aims at collecting data about sustainability behaviors that can be captured, analyzed, and integrated into comprehensive models that can support visualizations that can serve as rapid feedback to shape sustainable behavior. The vision of the project is rooted in documenting an individual’s impact on the campus sustainability agenda demonstrating how learning can lead to new modes of creativity based on the use of a novel, multi-modal display. Participant students will be issued a small "wearable" microcomputer, about the size of an SD memory card, to monitor and collect both autonomous data and self reported data of student activity related to sustainability. In some cases self-reported activity will be collected via a smart-phone enabled web interface. The wearable microcomputer is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled and will report individual performance data to web-enabled beacons for collection and aggregation of data. A further means of investigation, the BBI team will evaluate the data through statistical analysis and then connect the data into behavior models that can visualize the data on a variety of arduino-based inscribed surfaces whereby, translating decision-making into art.

Team members: Gregory Luhan, School of Architecture ; Derek Eggers, Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching; Melody Carswell, Psychology; Adam Lindstrom, UKAT; Noah Adler, Communications; Cathy Emery, Psychology.

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Development of Sustainable Bus Stops - Awarded $18,200 

The Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and the College of Design (CoD) see an opportunity to advance the University of Kentucky’s sustainability agenda by developing real world projects—critically placed high-performance bus shelters—that plug into a campus transportation system. As demonstration of emerging, cross-disciplinary research that integrates energy-generation, our team will diversify the University of Kentucky energy portfolio and contribute to its sustainability program by synthesizing forward-looking approaches developing new bus shelters or replacing those in poor condition. Our designs will integrate high-performance architectural skins, sustainable construction materials (ex: high strength concretes sourced from industrial by-products), bike share hubs, and photovoltaic systems with new ideas of what a shelter can be. This high-tech/low-tech, multi-modal solution will contribute to a “Sustainable Campus Exemplar” [1] that positions the University of Kentucky as a standard bearer for the Commonwealth’s energy infrastructure and sustainability programs.
Although this project is ongoing, this challenge grant will transform the effort from a theoretical exercise to a path towards real-world implementation. This is an ideal opportunity to leverage the impact of on campus research to engage students in a dialogue about sustainability, alternate transportation, the impact of design, and the possibilities of collaborative research at UK.

Team members: Michael Wilson, CAER; Martin Summers, College of Design;Phillip White, Electrical Engineering; Regina Hannemann, Electrical Engineering; Robert Royalty; Kentucky Utilities; Robert Hieronymus; Electrical Engineering; Donnie Spencer, Schneider Electric; Stephen Hardy and Ian Gibson, Electrical Engineering;Thompson Burry, Owen Duross, Hans Koesters and Ari Sogin, College of Design.

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Campus Tree Initiative: Enhancing sustainability through engagement with the urban tree canopy on UK campus and beyond - Awarded $17,760

Urban trees contribute substantially to environmental, economic, and social sustainability, significantly enhancing quality of life in urban environments. At less than 17% canopy cover, the UK campus has considerably less tree cover than that of Lexington, which at 25% is well below that of neighboring cities (Cincinnati 39%, Nashville 47%). Clearly, our UK community has a tremendous opportunity to enhance the campus tree canopy and its associated benefits, especially during this period of intensive construction. Our overarching goal is to amplify the perception, value and function of the urban forest on campus and in Lexington by marshaling partnerships across academic and operations interests of the campus community, along with local, state and federal governments and local organizations. Our project will enhance sustainability on campus and regionally by increasing visibility and awareness of the campus tree canopy and its contributions to campus sustainability. This will be done primarily via implementation of a discrete campus tree project, development of a dedicated website and Adopt-a-Tree program, creating curricular linkages including development of an Urban Forestry Certificate, and building an interdisciplinary, collaborative working group comprised of students, faculty, staff and outside professionals to impact outreach, operations, academics and research relative to urban trees. The success of the Campus Tree Initiative will be measured in terms of direct involvement of students, faculty and staff; engagement with campus tree educational materials and social media; development of an undergraduate urban forestry certificate; and successful engagement of the urban forestry community on campus and in the surrounding community.

Team members: Mary Arthur and Nic Williamson, Forestry; Lynne Rieske-Kinney, Entomology; Jerry Hart; PPD Grounds; Mercedes Murphy, Forestry; and Mariah Lewis, Natural Resources and Environmental Science.

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Arboretum Drive BioSwale Demonstration - Awarded $15,000

The entrance to The Arboretum is currently characterized by a rip‐rap lined ditch that is a classic example of the rapid water conveyance that impairs urban‐affected streams in Fayette County. A restructuring of this highly visible drainageway as a bioswale will transform it into an attractive, functional, and educational contribution to water quality in one of Kentucky’s premier venues for environmental education. The project partners propose to use in‐kind services along with funding from a Sustainability Challenge Grant to design and
reconstruct the current ditch into a bioswale for runoff infiltration and conveyance. The new bioswale will have a broadened cross‐section, a series of low weirs constructed from recycled rip‐rap, and will be planted with native grasses and wildflowers.The process for design and construction of the swale will involve the work of multiple participants: (1) data collection, design,
and construction detailing by students in the Landscape Architecture course Water in Urbanizing Landscapes; (2) technical leadership for hydrologic design and plant selection and establishment methods by faculty and staff in Landscape
Architecture, Horticulture and the Arboretum; (3) propagation of plant material by the UK Horticulture Club; (4) construction by the UK Student Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects, with the guidance of faculty and staff and in cooperation with PPD; (5) planting by SC/ASLA, the Horticulture Club, and Arboretum Volunteers with the guidance of faculty and Arboretum staff; and (4) longer‐term monitoring by UKLA. The result will be both functional and beautiful, demonstrating that using ecological principles to manage water and
landscapes creates more desirable human environments.

Team members: Molly Davis and Todd Rounsaville, UK Arboretum; Chris Sass, Ned Crankshaw and Travis Klondike, Landscape Architecture; Richard Durham and Mark Williams, Horticulture; George Riddle, PPD Grounds; and Jesse Dahl, Arboretum.

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Empowerment for North Limestone Neighborhood Sustainability: Establishing Public Spaces and Arts - Awarded $17,350 

The North Limestone Neighborhood (NoLi)in Lexington is actively working on improving the lives of its community members. Moving forward with their creative placemaking initiatives, this sustainability project will assist in preparing for the leadership, collaboration, and participation of stakeholders through facilitator training, empowerment of youth and the physical planning and design phases of ideation for shared public spaces and arts in NoLi. Currently, the community has several interested parties and a diverse group of constituents that can work more effectively through a systematic facilitation of effort. Through this project, NOLi will increase the ecological integrity of their existing environmental conditions and identify public space needs and visions. By working with diverse groups, the community will be able to increase their social capacity through training of facilitated leadership, improve inter generational communication and develop a stronger sense of space. Potential community leaders wil be trained in how to lead walking tours and gather information from the the diverse interest groups. Youth in the community will be taught skills to empower and motivate themselves to be healthier and more effective contributors. The students in the UK Landscape Architecture department will learn how to lead design workshop(s) with community youth and graphically represent the dreams and visions of the NoLi youth into actionable endeavors.

Team members: Ron Hustedde, Community and Leadership Development; Jayoung Koo, Landscape Architecture; and Richard Young, North Limestone Community Development Corporation.

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Cultivating Place for a Sustainable Community: Revitalizing the Shawneetown Community Garden - Awarded $15,000 

The Shawneetown Gardens began as a student initiative in 2009, and has grown from a gardening space for 20 residents to over 70 plots currently. Although the gardens are heavily utilized by Graduate and Family housing residents, a crumbling infrastructure, lack of organized design, and isolation keep it from functioning to its full potential as a sustainable initiative on the
University of Kentucky campus. While closely linked to minimizing impact on the ecosystem and promoting ecoliteracy, a sustainable community garden can also generate physical, ecological, and socio-cultural sustainability. Such diverse components of sustainability carry implications for plants and people which this project aims to explore through a synergy between students from the School of Interiors, the College of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, and associated student organizations to revitalize the Shawneetown Community Garden. Following the research and framework developed by Bethany Turner in the article “Embodied
Connections: Sustainability, Food Systems and Community Gardens”, faculty will mentor students in each department as well as student organizations through evidence based research, design thinking, project-based learning and campus engagement to transform the existing community garden to evoke a sense of ‘place’. Success as it relates to both the plants and the people will be measured by different means at various points throughout the project, which will
enable the Shawneetown Community Garden to act as a pilot for a potential network of community gardens on the University of Kentucky campus.

Team members: Helen Turner, School of Interiors; Krista Jacobsen, Horticulture; Michael Blum and Alaina Bauer.

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