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Living Laboratory

The University aspires to create a “living laboratory” in which the campus grounds are not only a backdrop of campus life, but an integral component of teaching, research, and outreach. The concept of a living laboratory is described in the Twin Cities Campus Master Plan and the Systemwide Sustainability Goals and Outcomes Report. As a living laboratory the campus grounds will be a medium for innovation, testing, demonstration, and learning.

The Twin Cities Sustainability Committee has developed a pilot process to facilitate identification and implementation of living laboratory projects.  The Committee invites proposals from the University community to utilize campus grounds as a living laboratory.  Selected proposals will be provided space on the campus grounds and assistance facilitating project implementation.

Applications have closed and will reopen 9/21/15.

Click below to find out more about the application process.


Funding to implement the proposal is not provided through this process and must be arranged separately. The proposal process is summarized below and detailed online at Living Lab Process. Applicants are encouraged to usethe University Libraries Grant Funding Search Tools and Resources at

Funding is also available through the Institute on the Environment project and mini grants.


•Application Process

Contact Stacey White ( with any questions.

View video overviews of successful Living Lab project proposals.

Community Connections Garden


Low Maintenance Turfgrass


Bee Garden


Native Grasses

View sample applications for:

Low Maintenance Turfgrass

Community Connections Garden


•Eligible Spaces

A map of areas of campus eligible for living lab projects is available here.  In addition, a list of University maintenance and improvement projects planned for grounds is available at Landcare Projects.  Proposers are encouraged to align their submissions with existing project plans if possible.


•Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by the Living Lab Review Panel.  The Panel will evaluate proposals relative to the following criteria:

Support of University mission.  How does the project further the University’s core mission of teaching, research, and outreach?

Stewardship of the University and the University Community.  Multiple considerations including:

• Impact of the project on other uses of the space.

• Alignment with elements of the Campus Master Plan and existing landscape maintenance and improvement plans.

• Opportunity to integrate project into current or planned campus operations.

• Opportunity for replication or large-scale development of the project.

• Safety.

• Compliance with applicable codes and statutes.

• Alignment with Sustainability Goals.

• Does the project advance University sustainability goals defined in the Regents policy, related University plans (e.g. Systemwide Goals and Outcomes Report), and external commitments (e.g. American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment)?

• Does the proposal contribute to regional sustainability? (e.g. improving watershed)

Academic Alignment.  Projects must be affiliated with a University department.

Financial Plan.  Is the budget thoughtfully prepared and reasonable given the scope of work proposed? Have potential financial resources been identified and/or committed to pay for implementation, maintenance, and removal/restoration of the space (if applicable) of the project? (Note: Projects do not need to secure financial resources prior to submission.)

Letter of Support (required for students only). Students submitting a proposal should have a letter of support from a faculty or staff member to provide guidance and oversight throughout the process. See sample letter of support

Other Factors

• Does the project have a high likelihood of success given the scope, schedule, and budget proposed?

• Does the proposal improve on and/or measure the efficacy of existing infrastructure?

Proposals selected by the Panel will be recommended for implementation, provided space on campus to implement their project, and given assistance facilitating project implementation.  Proposed projects may require additional review after the Panel’s evaluation to ensure safety, compliance with codes and/or University policy, availability of funding, etc.