AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University has received a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, is a new program that measures sustainability performance and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
The Auburn University Office of Sustainability collaborated with Academic Sustainability Programs to conduct the comprehensive self-assessment throughout 2012 and submitted findings to STARS in January. Representatives from a number of areas of campus participated in gathering and providing data.
“Sustainability improves our ability to make sound decisions for good reasons, and Auburn’s commitment to sustainability has been growing for nearly ten years,” said Mike Kensler, director of the Office of Sustainability. “The STARS initiative provides an important benchmark of current sustainability performance. We learned a tremendous amount and have been able to catalog what we are doing well, where we have opportunities for progress and how we can best move forward.”
Achievements noted in the findings include: 58 percent of Auburn students use some form of sustainable transportation like Tiger Transit, carpool, biking or walking to commute to campus with 27 percent choosing non-motorized options as their primary mode of commuting; more than two million square feet of building space has been added to Auburn’s campus in the last three years, and 36 percent of that is certified LEED Silver or Gold; and 55 percent of the academic departments on campus offer at least one sustainability course.
“We are proud to have achieved a STARS Silver Rating for our sustainability accomplishments, which motivate us to accomplish more,” said Nanette Chadwick, director of Academic Sustainability Programs. “Auburn has a growing portfolio of sustainability-related research. We are working also to increase sustainability content in our courses, so that we can better prepare our graduates for their roles as leaders of tomorrow. We are confident that our sustainability efforts will grow and increase in impact as a result of our participation in the STARS program.”
The STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research, operations, and planning, administration and engagement.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Paul Rowland. “Auburn University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
The program is open to all institutions of higher education in the United States 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.
The report is public and can be found at the STARS website: https://stars.aashe.org/.
(Contributed by Michael Kensler.)