Living Lab Approach

As a key part of the RVC/FFRE programming we provide a working situation for students to develop “real world projects” and to connect with community volunteers in a mentored system of learning.

We are hoping this bootstraps a more formal process at the campus itself.

One project already in place is the Water Monitoring system on Campus and the in-process air monitoring system (Village Green) in construction.

Rock Valley Living Lab Information


Link to the Full Report

The Campus as a Living Laboratory: Using the Built Environment to Revitalize College Education.

Community colleges are a unique focus point for their communities. They offer high school graduates and other students a quality yet reasonably priced education. They provide older adults a way to update their career skills and capabilities. Local businesses and industries rely on them to train their workforce. They are a pathway to providing resources for everyone in their area.

As Illinois community colleges have redesigned and retrofitted their facilities to be more sustainable, they are expanding their reach and turning their campuses into living laboratories. By combining academics and building management, they are introducing, demonstrating and teaching sustainable green technologies to their communities.

Living labs are the future. They combine academic rigor with hands-on learning for everyone across academic and technical programs. Every sector from food services and building maintenance to transportation and grounds keeping are involved.

Schools can address many objectives simultaneously. For example, developing more efficient campus landscaping can reduce water usage and lower utility bills while conserving community resources. Another example can be showing how wind turbines can save energy and provide new career opportunities.

In 2014, IGEN hosted a Campus as a Living Laboratory workshop at the College of Lake County with partners at the AACC’s Seed Center. Community stakeholders and college faculty and staff from across Illinois and Wisconsin exchanged ideas, reviewed case studies an participated in discussions based on the guide. They learned about the eight elements needed to build a living lab.

Build a Living Lab with these 8 Elements:

  1. Engage the right participants
  2. Identify key programs
  3. Build credibility
  4. Integrate labs into curriculum
  5. Expand
  6. Build industry partnerships
  7. Engage beyond the campus
  8. Open labs to community