Missouri University of Science and Technology is participating in a new program to encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The program, called the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
A report from the Brundtland Commission, which was convened by the United Nations in 1983, defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The report discusses the interconnectedness and interdependence of the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability.
STARS is an attempt to bring that broad and inclusive view of sustainability to the campus level with measurable objectives. To date, nearly 230 higher education institutions have registered as STARS charter participants.
“We are looking forward to engaging the enthusiastic participation of our students, faculty and staff, as well as watching our sustainability efforts grow on campus through the STARS program,” says Julie Wilson, green campus coordinator at Missouri S&T.
The program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participating universities report data and achievements in three areas: education and research activities; operations; and planning, administration and engagement to improve the sustainability of the institution.
“The advantage of STARS is that institutions can earn credits for all of their contributions to sustainability,” says Paul Rowland, executive director of AASHE. “From providing sustainability coursework, to using green cleaning products, to energy efficiency in campus buildings, there are lots of opportunities for a school to identify and track its sustainability progress.”
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons to track improvement as well as comparisons with other participating universities, including peer institutes.