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Sustainability Rating System Targets Higher Education
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has launched a pilot rating system for sustainability in higher education.
More than 90 college and university campuses will test the self-assessment tool, called Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS).
Throughout 2008, they will provide feedback to AASHE and inform STARS version 1.0, planned for release in spring 2009. The 90-plus participating campuses were selected to represent a range of institutional types, sizes, and geography. They include public and private schools, community colleges and research universities.
Stars is designed to:
* help gauge the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors, from governance and operations to academics and community engagement
* enable meaningful comparisons across institutions as well as benchmarking within institutions
* create incentives for continuous improvement toward sustainability
* facilitate information sharing about sustainability practices and performance in higher education
* build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.
Given the rapid growth of sustainability initiatives at colleges and universities, measuring and assessing progress toward sustainability goals has become increasingly important. While many institutions have undertaken sustainability assessments and a variety of assessment tools are available, no system exists that translates disparate sustainability indicators into one metric that enables both institutional benchmarking and easier comparison across a large number of campuses for overall achievement.
The system is similar to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, but organizations can apply STARS to an entire campus, rather than one building or a set of buildings, and it evaluates social responsibility and environmental stewardship.
Using STARS, campuses can earn credits in three categories: curriculum and research; operations; and administration and finance. Within each category are subsections of credits, ranging from purchasing and buildings in the operations category to investment and planning in the administration and finance category.
For information about STARS, including a copy of the Pilot Phase One Guide, visit the STARS homepage.