National sustainability program offers comprehensive green plan for campuses

Topic: Sustainability/Environment

March 4, 2008

When it comes to sustainability, Ball State University is again demonstrating that its actions speak louder than words.

The university has joined more than 90 other higher education institutions to launch the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) pilot program, a national initiative to make campus life more sustainable.

STARS, developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, has five main goals:

  • gauge the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors, including governance, operations, academics and community engagement
  • develop meaningful ways to compare progress across institutions and benchmark within institutions
  • develop and promote incentives for continuous improvement toward sustainability
    create ways to share best practices and resources on sustainability and performance across institutions
  • build more diverse participation in each campus' sustainability movement
     

STARS, which is planned to launch nationwide in the spring of 2009, takes the many threads of campus greening and combines them into one comprehensive system. It is similar to LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for buildings, scoring institutions in several categories.

Unlike LEED, however, STARS is applied to the entire campus and takes into account social responsibility as well as environmental stewardship.

Ball State is the sole university in Indiana participating in the pilot program. Its efforts will be coordinated by the university's Council on the Environment, the longest-standing green committee in Indiana's higher education community.

"We're pleased to represent the state as a pilot school," said Robert Koester, chair of Ball State's Council on the Environment. "This effort integrates well with the unit-level sustainability initiatives called for by Ball State's Strategic Plan. We should be well positioned when STARS version 1.0 has been completely vetted and is finally released for use nationwide."

More information about STARS can be found at www.aashe.org/stars/.

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