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CU Boulder is now one of the seven U.S. universities to receive a “gold” rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).
`According to the STARS report, CU Boulder received a score of 68.77 after submitting its application to the program. The university has the requirements of the gold rating along with NYU, American University, Duke University, Oregon State University, Middlebury College, and University of South Florida.
In a press release, Vice Chancellor for Administration Frank Bruno said this is an honor for the university.
“This accomplishment is the result of a lot of hard work by countless people in all areas of campus,” said Bruno. “I am honored to help facilitate the efforts of such a dedicated campus community.”
Launched in January 2010, STARS is the only sustainability rating system open to the public and was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). According to the STARS website, the program is “a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability.”
AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland said in a press release that the submissions have helped show which campuses are sustainable.
“From these submissions we are learning that our campuses are doing some incredible things to implement sustainable practices,” said Rowland in the press release. “On the other hand they are also identifying the areas in which they have room for improvement and we see tremendous opportunities for them to help each other in these endeavors.”
According to the press release, about 245 institutions in the U.S. and Canada participate in the STARS program. These may include any institution of higher learning including community colleges, research universities, and technical institutes.
The STARS system uses a set of measurements to gauge institutions’ sustainability progress. The main categories include Education and Research, Operations and Planning, and Administration and Engagement. The STARS score of an institution is based off of the average percentage of applicable points in each of the main categories of STARS credits.
Katrina Mcguire, a 19-year-old environmental engineering freshman, said that the STARS program would be valuable to her classmates.
“A lot of environmental engineers that I know are interested in doing what they can to conserve the earth,” Mcguire said. “The STARS program is definitely a good way for students to give input, but I don’t think many people actually know about it.”
Mcguire said her concern was that it seemed to be a program gravitating towards older affiliates of CU rather than the student population.
The STARS ratings require a sign-off by an accredited official appointed by the institution. Dave Newport, the director of the CU Environmental Center, serves as the STARS team leader for CU.
“Our STARS gold rating is based on credible, transparent data that documents CU’s leadership and dedication to sustainability,” Newport said in a recent press release. “We look forward to the near future when all organizations use STARS to guide their efforts and benchmark with peers.”
To achieve a “gold” rating, the institution must have a score of at least 65, while a score of 85 or above achieves “platinum,” which has yet to be attained by any institution in participation.
CU Boulder was also listed in the Princeton Review’s “268 Greenest Colleges” in 2010. The nomination comes from the long history of sustainability, top-notch recycling efforts, as well as being one of the best destinations for environmental education in the U.S.
Director of Sustainability, Moe Tabrizi, said he is busy implementing more initiatives to achieve CU’s sustainability goals, viewing the STARS program as an important step in the process.
“Even with our growing campus, we are on track to meet the aggressive 2012 conservation goals outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order,” Tabrizi said in a press release. “STARS has helped us pinpoint necessary work, benchmarks and improve our performance going forward.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Nora Keating at Nora.firstname.lastname@example.org.