Missouri S&T achieves silver STARS designation for sustainability

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On September 26, 2012

In recognition of efforts to make the campus a more environmentally friendly place to learn and work, Missouri University of Science and Technology recently achieved a “Silver” rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

STARS is a national program designed to help colleges and universities measure their environmental and other sustainability efforts. The program was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE.


Phytoforensics — studying tree core samples to detect the presence of contaminants — is one groundbreaking area of environmental research under way at Missouri S&T. Above, S&T Professor Joel Burken, Ph.D. student Matt Limmer and sophomore Amanda Holmes remove core samples from trees in Rolla’s Schuman Park.

“The STARS designation highlights Missouri S&T’s commitment to environmental sustainability while educating students who are aware of the importance of good environmental stewardship,” says Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader. “We’re very proud to participate in this program and to be associated with many other institutions that also place a strong emphasis on sustainability.”

AASHE’s STARS program allows colleges and universities to publicly report information related to their sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three areas: education and research, operations, and planning, administration and engagement.

Missouri S&T is one of 103 universities across the nation to achieve the silver STARS designation. STARS also offers Bronze, Gold and Platinum designations to institutions that achieve certain levels, and only 37 have attained a Gold rating. To date, no institution has attained a platinum rating.

Missouri S&T’s notable achievements in the area of environmental sustainability include:

  • Development of the S&T “Solar Village,” a neighborhood of four solar-powered homes designed and built by students. The homes are inhabited by students and faculty, while also being used for public tours and research.
  • Construction of a campuswide geothermal energy system that, when completed in 2014, will reduce Missouri S&T’s energy usage by 50 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25,000 tons a year. The project began last spring.
  • Hands-on student design teams focused on sustainable energy usage, including the Solar House Team, which builds homes for the international Solar Decathlon competition; the H2 Design Solutions Team, which creates hydrogen power designs for an annual design event; and the Solar Car Team, which designs and builds a solar-powered vehicle.
  • Undergraduate and graduate research in a variety of energy and environmental areas, including solar and wind power, biofuels, phytoremediation (the use of plants to detect and remove pollutants), and the future “smart” power grid.
  • The Energy Research and Development Center, which coordinates energy-related research among faculty and students from various academic areas.
  • Missouri’s first environmental engineering degree program, established in 2003, and a sustainability minor, established on the S&T campus in 2012.
  • Becoming the first U.S. campus to develop a comprehensive environmental management system and become I.S.O. 14001 certified. Certification has been maintained since 2001 and was recently renewed after review by an external audit team.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” says AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “Missouri S&T has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

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 as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

“We are very proud to have achieved a STARS Rating for our sustainability accomplishments. We look forward to watching our sustainability efforts grow and improve through the STARS program,” says Dr. Joel Burken, professor of civil and environmental engineering and chair of the Green Campus Committee. The committee works to promote sustainable practices across campus.

“The results of the STARS assessment will serve as a guide for our sustainability efforts,” says Angela Rolufs, director of Missouri S&T’s office of sustainable energy and environmental engagement (OSE3). “One of the goals will be to raise our scores in those areas where we have the opportunity for improvement. We also plan to broaden our definition of campus sustainability to include economic and societal factors, along with our impacts on the environment. This will allow us to be better aligned with AASHE and the STARS process.”

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research.

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On September 26, 2012. Posted in Environmental Engineering, News, Top Headlines

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One thought on “Missouri S&T achieves silver STARS designation for sustainability”

  • It’s initiatives like these which give us all hope.
    I’ve just been doing my occasional scan of news stories, across the internet, relating to renewable energy developments, and was staggered to read a number of articles relating to the curtailing of government investment in wind power.
    On further investigation I then found studies that were worried about wind turbines causing global warming because of the hot air they produce. I considered replying to these studies, and suggesting that the scientists involved were perhaps supplying more hot air than the turbines, but I’m not convinced they would have understood my comment.
    My next stop was here, and having read what your students can do, will do, and quite clearly achieve, it has given me a greater feeling of hope than I had half an hour ago. I only wish that the politicians and policy makers read more blog posts like yours, and then maybe they’d realise that it really is time for a bit of change in thinking.
    Thanks, and good luck with the projects,