Oregon State University is well known for its strong focus in sustainability, from our LEED Platinum rated Energy Center to our Student Sustainability Initiative. But what features matter the most and what actions will make the biggest difference? Who decides how sustainable we actually are and whether we are moving in the right direction?
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE, uses a system called STARS to measure the sustainability performance of various colleges and universities around the globe.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System is a transparent, self-reporting framework for higher education institutions to earn points in four main categories. Through analyzing Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration, schools can achieve a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating. Each school’s ratings are valid for up to three years and are publicly accessible on the STARS website.
AASHE just released their 2014 Annual Review which focuses on submissions between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, which totals 105 institutions that earned a STARS rating. Oregon State earned another Gold rating this year, totaling 3 rounds of successful STARS reporting.
AASHE noted several trends in this year’s report, including an increase in submissions from Associate’s and Baccalaureate Institutions, an increase in Multiple Reports and Higher Average Scores, and an increase in the number of schools that received Gold ratings.
The STARS reporting tool underwent major upgrades in 2013, making it hard to judge improvements made from the years prior. It is clear however that we have made advancements in campus engagement, research, grounds, coordination, planning & governance, and diversity & affordability. We also have several positive trending categories including curriculum, air and climate, transportation, investment, and public engagement.
This year’s STARS report, which highlights a sustainable endeavor from each institution, featured the OSU Repair Fairs. The Repair Fairs happen twice per term and are an opportunity for students and campus community members to bring broken or damaged items and learn, hands on, how to fix them.
This is just one of the many resources at Oregon State that show what a strong drive our university has to reach its sustainability goals. You can find more information about OSU’s resources online as well as AASHE’s review and STARS process.