Project Ideas

You may already have your own ideas in mind for a living laboratory project on campus. If not, below are some project ideas for living labs at Rutgers. These ideas and proposals should not be taken as the final or the only ideas; future George H. Cook Scholars, students, faculty, Facilities, and other members of the Rutgers community are encouraged to gather their own ideas and develop proposals for living laboratories as part of independent projects, class projects, or other work.

Enhancing Existing

This category includes improvements to existing living laboratories. Enhancing existing living labs can help gain initial traction and support for the creation of new living labs on campus.

  • Enhancements to Rutgers Gardens
  • Enhancements to Rutgers EcoPreserve
  • Creating a stronger connection between the Gardens and EcoPreserve
  • Creating a website, app, etc., that shows real time energy data of the campus
  • Ryders Lane Farms : increasing visibility and access; expanding research; and incorporating different departments
  • Dining Services : Establishing curriculum for existing sustainable machines and sustainability efforts; Incorporating more classes and departments
  • Cook/Douglass Campus
    • Integrate more courses with the existing Student Sustainability Farm and Cook Organic Garden
    • Increase use of the Rutgers Greenhouses and Chrystler Herbarium
    • Connecting the Cook Farm with additional classes and departments
    • Enhancements to Passion Puddle

Simple Interventions

The creation of new living laboratories on a smaller scale. They are less costly and require less time to be established, and as such, they are easier to implement.

  • Additional outdoor gardens : Native plant garden; Bioretention rain garden system on College Farm Road
  • Porous paving sidewalk around Helyar House
  • Meadows, native landscapes in areas that do not have to be lawn
  • Bird and bat houses
  • Study and research sustainability, use, and environmental connections of paths on campus
  • Establish stronger connections with the Farmers market
  • Dorm versus dorm energy (savings) competition (with more associated research)
  • Utilizing existing mechanical systems on campus for education

Middle Ground

The creation of new living laboratories that fall between simple and grand depending on the scale they are implemented at.

  • Creating Green Infrastructure
  • Campus parking lots : use in courses and research; conduct interventions and redesigns
  • Forests on campus : utilize more for classes and research
  • Rutgers buildings :
    • Point source building drainage
    • Data collection of usage patterns, energy consumption, etc.
    • Occupant behavior studies
  • Campus arboretum
  • Stormwater Interventions:
    • The gully between Loree and the parking deck
    • The gorge by the Douglass Library
    • Newell/Starkey stream
    • Any spot with erosion problems
  • Campus as a whole:
    • Ecorestoration projects
    • Soil research, study, use in classes
    • Modifying the landscape for health -- studying and research
    • Utilizing the full range of campus environments (rural to urban)
    • Assessing and modeling campus buildings and transportation
    • Implementing proposals from campus challenges, such as the REI Energy Contest

Grand Gestures

These are large-scale and long-term living laboratories. They are more intensive, more costly, and more risky, which makes them more difficult to implement.

  • Raritan River : expanding use for classes and research; having a boat for classes; creating a laboratory out on the river
  • Creating outdoor farms and gardens:
    • Demonstration permaculture garden
    • Edible plant garden or plants throughout campus
    • Farms or gardens by dorms
  • Carpender Estate
  • Sustainability dormitory or student center (see case study examples: Duke and ASU)
  • Wetland restoration around Helyar House
  • Food hub on campus
  • Using campus and New Brunswick as a living lab for bicycling and alternative forms of transportation
  • Incorporate Turfgrass program throughout campus

For more inspiration, check out ideas for research questions and living lab projects from Duke University, Ohio State University, and Princeton University.