New Campus Sustainability Program Launches Comprehensive Push to Green Campuses

New Campus Sustainability Program Launches Comprehensive Push to Green Campuses

The Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, will launch today on more than 90 college and university campuses, a new pilot program that aims to bring attention to everything from buildings to food programs to education and develop ways to make campus life more sustainable.

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 past year has seen a dramatic rise in movements toward sustainability on campus, some of which were also developed by AASHE.

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/.