AASHE's New Quarterly Review On Higher Ed Sustainable Actions

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has launched its first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) Quarterly Review.

The 21 page report captures the insights and knowledge gained by the 177 institutions that have earned a STARS rating through March 1, 2012. This is an almost 250% increase from the 37 rated institutions in April 2011.

The STARS Reports submitted by institutions represent hundreds of data points and thousands of best practices and lessons learned. With the growth in the number of institutions participating (282 participating as of March 1), AASHE will now be releasing quarterly analyses of STARS data that capture and share the latest findings on campus sustainability trends.

“The STARS Quarterly Review provides a wealth of information about the state of campus sustainability,” said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “Case studies, best practices, exemplary programs, and interesting facts can all be found in the document. We hope that it will inspire continued growth of sustainability efforts in higher education.”

Launched by AASHE in 2010, STARS involves public reporting of comprehensive information related to a college’s or university’s sustainability performance. STARS provides institutions with a standardized assessment tool to measure sustainability performance. The system includes 139 environmental, economic, and social indicators, which are divided into four categories related to campus activities: Education & Research (ER); Operations (OP); Planning, Administration & Engagement (PAE); and Innovation (IN). All of the requirements for evaluating and scoring an institution are transparent and made publicly available.

Some notable findings from the current report:

  • Of the 282 STARS Institutions, 158 have signed the American College and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).
  • 23 STARS Institutions were Canadian, and nine additional institutions from eight different countries had registered for the STARS International Pilot.
  • 50% of Rated Institutions earned a STARS Silver rating.
  • Institutions claimed the most points with an average score of 57.8% in the Planning, Administration; Engagement (PAE) category.
  • The Grounds subcategory was the highest scoring area within the Operations (OP) category with institutions claiming 71% of the available points.

The report states that the Operations (OP) category “proves to be the most challenging area within STARS in terms of percentage of applicable points earned. This category also has the most obvious links to climate change, an issue that is at the forefront of many institutions’ sustainability plans.”

Universities highlighted in the report for operations strides are the University of Minnesota, Morris for its building operations plan and Cornell University for its implementation of renewable energy.

To request a PDF download of this most recent STARS Quarterly Review, click this link.