Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab

Rebecca Quesnell (BA '15) and Maria Cancilla (SUST major) work on the STARS assessment project in the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, est. 2015

Working on the STARS assessment project, Nov. 2015 (photo: M. Bryson)

Located in Roosevelt’s iconic Auditorium Building on the Chicago Campus (AUD 526), the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab (RUSLab) is an idea and project incubator that supports work done by students, faculty, and staff to advance sustainability projects, research, and activism at the University.

The Lab provides an experimental space for Roosevelt’s diverse sustainability community to brainstorm, develop, and collaborate on a variety of hands-on sustainability projects, ranging in focus from campus operations; to environmental education and sustainability literacy; to campus/community outreach and engagement; to the creative integration of science, policy, arts, and humanities.

Launched in the fall of 2015, the RUSLab collaborates with existing RU entities such as the RU Green student organization, the Office of Physical Resources, the Center for Student Involvement, the Sustainability Studies Program, the Joseph Loundy Project for Human Rights, the Office of Experiential Learning, and the Environmental Sustainability Committee on campus programming, student research, community-based service learning, and faculty development.

Working on RU’s Rooftop Garden, Sept. 2018 (photo: M. Bryson)

The Lab’s mission is to bring together students, faculty, staff, and sustainability advocates/professionals for events and projects of mutual interest; serve as an ideas generator for and advocate of sustainability education and innovation for the University; coordinate activities and research that utilize the university’s urban and suburban campuses as living laboratories; and engage in sustainability service learning and applied research that speak to the needs of organizations, communities, and municipalities in the greater Chicago region and advance the principles of environmental justice.

Since its inception in 2015 as a key initiative of RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan (pdf), the RUSLab has undertaken the following projects:

  • Completion of Roosevelt’s first STARS campus sustainability assessment report, which garnered a bronze-level certification from AASHE
  • Management of the Chicago Campus Rooftop Garden, a fifth-story green rooftop space on RU’s 32-story LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building
  • Support of the annual Sustainability Studies Student Symposium, a yearly showcase for undergraduate student research, travel, and internship experiences
  • Planning of Earth Month activities and events each April to enhance campus environmental literacy and stewardship
  • Implementation of a compost collection program for RU’s national historic landmark Auditorium Building to reduce the university’s food waste
  • Launching of the Writing Urban Nature environmental humanities online project featuring student-authored creative nonfiction about Chicago’s urban environment
  • Contribution to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future online project (est. 2011), which documents and assesses a wide range of sustainability issues relevant to urban and suburban environments, with a special focus on environmental justice

For more information on the RUSLab, contact Prof. Mike Bryson (, Professor and Director of the Sustainability Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.