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Environment / Sustainability

CSU earns highest sustainability score among reporting universities nationwide

September 29, 2011

Colorado State University has achieved the highest score among 129 reporting universities participating in a national survey of higher education institutions dedicated to sustainability measures - the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Reporting System known as STARS.

Interdisciplinary research - like the work of Professors Ken Reardon and Chris Orton - was a major factor in CSU's STARS ranking. Colorado State’s score affirms its position as a leader among institutions of higher education in sustainable research, education, operations, planning and student engagement.

CSU tops among 129 universities

Colorado State submitted a score of 77.73 out of 100 possible points, earning the university a Gold rating and the current top score nationwide among the 129 universities who have reported to date. The university’s full report is available here. More details on the university’s sustainability efforts is available here.

“Colorado State University’s STARS report is a reflection of the institution’s more than 140 years of environmental research and a community of faculty, staff and students committed to creating a more sustainable environment,” said Ron Sega, vice president and enterprise executive for Energy and the Environment. “This report details how Colorado State is focused on achieving sustainable campus operations, advancing our society’s understanding of sustainability through research, and, most importantly, educating and empowering our students to help create sustainable environments in their own communities after graduation.”

“Colorado State still has room to improve, but we are immensely proud of the work our students, faculty and staff have already done that has placed our university as a sustainability leader among higher education institutions,” Sega said.

Highlights of the report:

• Colorado State excelled in implementing sustainability research and curriculum with 56 percent of the university’s faculty and 72 percent of all academic departments engaged in environmental research.

• One-fourth of Colorado State’s offered courses have a sustainability focus as part of five undergraduate and graduate degrees that are tailored to the preservation of the environment.

• Collaborative offices and initiatives across campus helped Colorado State net a score well above average, including the School for Global Environmental Sustainability, the Center for the New Energy Economy, and numerous community sustainability partnerships.

• Colorado State earned points within STARS for environmentally responsible practices. The university’s operations incorporate innovative programs and on-campus features, which surpass the report’s expectations, including constructed wetlands and irrigation systems with significant student design. The university also boasts an on-campus, closed-loop in-vessel composting system and a 90 percent diversion rate of waste generated by new construction projects.

• Student engagement was a highlight in the STARS report. Colorado State received full points in the co-curricular education category for programs like Eco Leaders, a student sustainability educators program in the residence halls, outreach campaigns like the Green Warrior energy campaign and RecycleMania, and Pingree Park, CSU’s mountain campus that provides experiential learning opportunities for Natural Resources students and several other student groups at CSU.

STARS a self-reporting system

Work with students at CSU's Pingree Park campus helped the university achieve its STARS rating.STARS is a self-reporting system that requires affirmation by the institution's highest ranking executive, incorporating environmental, economic and social indicators. STARS participants report achievements in the areas of: Education and Research, Operations, Planning and Administration and Engagement. Institutions that submit data receive a Reporter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Rating. No school has yet achieved the Platinum rating.

STARS is the only rating system of its kind that involves public reporting of comprehensive information related to a college's or university's sustainability performance. Unlike other rating or ranking systems, STARS 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 for specific actions, it allows for both internal benchmarking as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

Colorado State University is dedicated to implementing environmental protection policies across campus. The STARS tool allows the university’s faculty, staff, and students to measure progress toward this goal as well as pinpoint areas for improvement. The survey system is completed every three years.


Contact: Emily Wilmsen
E-mail: Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2336