After nearly two years of development, the STARS program will remain in pilot program throughout 2008, and will launch the official version 1.0 in spring 2009.
The schools participating in the pilot launch cover a range of geographic locations, campus sizes and type of institution, including both public and private schools and everything from community colleges to research universities. Among the larger schools involved are New York University, Arizona State University and University of Arizona, and two schools in the University of California system, at San Diego and Santa Barbara.
There are five main goals of the pilot program, including:
- To help gauge the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors, from governance and operations to academics and community engagement;
- Develop meaningful ways to compare progress across institutions and benchmark within institutions;
- Develop and promote incentives for continuous improvement toward sustainability;
- Create ways to share best practices and resources on sustainability and performance across institutions; and
- Build more diverse participation in each campus's sustainability movement.
The new STARS program takes the many threads of campus greening and combines them into one comprehensive system. It is patterned after the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building rating system, in that it scores institutions on the points it achieves in several categories of performance. Unlike LEED, however, STARS is applied to the entire campus and takes into account social responsibility as well as environmental stewardship.
The three categories within the STARS program are Curriculum and Research, Operations, and Administration and Finance. Each of these categories contain subsets of credits, examining, for example, buildings and purchasing under the Operations category and investment in the Administration and Finance category.
More information about STARS is online at http://www.aashe.org/stars/.