AASHE STARS

The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (www.aashe.org) develops the most commonly used model to rank sustainability at higher education instutions. This model, called the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), is used by organizations such as Sierra Magazine and the Princeton Review to rank "green" colleges and university's across the world.

This self-reporting framework encompasses long-term sustainability goals and defines sustainability in a pluralistic and inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations. STARS attempts to translate this broad and inclusive view of sustainability to measurable objectives at the campus level. Thus, it includes credits related to an institution’s environmental, social, and economic performance.

UW-Platteville submitted our first STARS report in winter of 2016. While we have not been scored, you can find all of our reporting and data here.

Below you can see a list of STARS credits. For more information about STARS, including the complete technical manual, please visit https://stars.aashe.org/.

ACADEMICS - 58 Points Available

Curriculum - 40 Points

AC 1 Academic Courses - 14 Points

  • Part 1: Institution offers sustainability courses and/or courses that include sustainability and makes an inventory of those courses publicly available.
  • Part 2: Institution’s academic departments (or the equivalent) offer sustainability courses and/or courses that include sustainability.

AC 2 Learning Outcomes* - 8 Points
Institution’s students graduate from degree programs that include sustainability as a learning outcome or include multiple sustainability learning outcomes.

AC 3 Undergraduate Program* - 3 Points
Institution offers at least one:  Sustainability-focused program (major, degree program, or equivalent) for undergraduate students and/or undergraduate-level sustainability-focused minor or concentration (e.g. a concentration on sustainable business within a business major).

AC 4 Graduate Program*  - 3 Points
Institution offers at least one:

  • Sustainability-focused program (major, degree program, or equivalent) for graduate students and/or graduate-level sustainability-focused minor,
  • Concentration or certificate (e.g. a concentration on sustainable business within an MBA program).

AC 5 Immersive Experience* - 2 Points
Institution offers at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program. The program is one week more in length and may take place off-campus, overseas, or on-campus.

AC 6 Sustainability Literacy Assessment - 4 Points
Institution conducts an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students. The sustainability literacy assessment focuses on knowledge of sustainability topics and may also address values, behaviors and/or beliefs. Assessments that focus exclusively on values, behaviors and/or beliefs are not sufficient to earn points for this credit.

AC 7 Incentives for Developing Courses - 2 Points
Institution has an ongoing program or programs that offer incentives for faculty in multiple disciplines or departments to develop new sustainability courses and/or incorporate  sustainability into existing courses or departments. The program specifically aims to increase  student learning of sustainability.

AC 8 Campus as a Living Laboratory* - 4 Points
Institution is utilizing its infrastructure and operations for multidisciplinary student learning, applied research and/or practical work that advances sustainability on campus in at least one of the following areas:

  • Air & Climate,
  • Buildings,
  • Dining Services/Food,
  • Energy,
  • Grounds,
  • Purchasing,
  • Transportation,
  • Waste,
  • Water,
  • Coordination,
  • Planning & Governance,
  • Diversity & Affordability,
  • Health,
  • Wellbeing & Work,
  • Investment,
  • Public Engagement,
  • Other

Research - 18 Points

AC 9 Academic Research* - 12 Points

  • Part 1: Institution’s faculty and/or staff conduct sustainability research and the institution makes an inventory of its sustainability research publicly available.
  • Part 2: Institution’s academic departments (or the equivalent) include faculty and staff who conduct sustainability research.

AC 10 Support for Research* - 4 Points
Institution encourages and/or supports sustainability research through one or more of the
following:

  • An ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability. The program provides students with incentives to research sustainability. Such incentives may include, but are not limited to, fellowships, financial support, and mentorships. The program specifically aims to increase student sustainability research. 
  • An ongoing program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics. The program provides faculty with incentives to research sustainability. Such incentives may include, but are not limited to, fellowships, financial support, and faculty development workshops. The program specifically aims to increase faculty sustainability research.
  • Formally adopted policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions.
  • Ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning in the form of research guides, materials selection policies and practices, curriculum development efforts, sustainability literacy promotion, and e-learning objects focused on sustainability.

AC 11 Access to Research* - 2 Points
Institution has a formally adopted open access policy that ensures that versions of all future scholarly articles by faculty and staff and all future theses and dissertations are deposited in a designated open access repository.

ENGAGEMENT - 42 Points Available 

Campus Engagement - 20 points

EN 1 Student Educators Program - 4 Points
Institution coordinates an ongoing peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program for degree-seeking students. The institution:
  • Selects or appoints students to serve as educators and formally designates the students as educators (paid and/or volunteer),
  • Provides formal training to the educators in how to conduct outreach, and
  • Offers faculty or staff and/or other financial support to the program.

EN 2 Student Orientation - 2 Points
Institution includes sustainability prominently in its student orientation activities and programming. Sustainability activities and programming are intended to educate about the principles and practices of sustainability. The topics covered include multiple dimensions of sustainability (i.e. social, environmental and economic).

EN 3 Student Life - 2 Points
Institution has co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives. The programs and initiatives fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Active student groups focused on sustainability
  • Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems
  • Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)
  • Sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills
  • Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience
  • Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience
  • Wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles
  • Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)
  • Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills (e.g. a series of sustainable living workshops, a model room in a residence hall that is open to students during regular visitation hours and demonstrates sustainable living principles, or sustainability-themed housing where residents and visitors learn about sustainability together)
  • Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution 
  • Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions
  • Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives

EN 4 Outreach Materials and Publications - 2 Points
Institution produces outreach materials and/or publications that foster sustainability learning and knowledge. The publications and outreach materials may include the following:

  • A central sustainability website that consolidates information about the institution’s sustainability efforts 
  • A sustainability newsletter
  • Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, interactive blogs) that focus specifically on campus sustainability
  • A vehicle to publish and disseminate student research on sustainability
  • Building signage that highlights green building features
  • Food service area signage and/or brochures that include information about sustainable food systems
  • Signage on the grounds about sustainable groundskeeping and/or landscaping strategies employed
  • A sustainability walking map or tour
  • A guide for commuters about how to use alternative methods of transportation
  • Navigation and educational tools for bicyclists and pedestrians (e.g. covering routes, inter-modal connections, policies, services, and safety)
  • A guide for green living and incorporating sustainability into the residential experience
  • Regular coverage of sustainability in the main student newspaper, either through a regular column or a reporter assigned to the sustainability beat
  • Other

EN 5 Outreach Campaign - 4 Points

  • Part 1: Institution holds at least one sustainability-related outreach campaign directed at students that yields measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability. The sustainability-related outreach campaign may be conducted by the institution, a student organization, or students in a course.
  • Part 2: Institution holds at least one sustainability-related outreach campaign directed at employees that yields measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability. The sustainability-related outreach campaign may be conducted by the institution or an employee organization.

EN 6 Employee Educators Program - 3 Points
Institution administers or oversees an ongoing faculty/staff peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program.

EN 7 Employee Orientation - 1 Points
Institution covers sustainability topics in new employee orientation and/or in outreach and guidance materials distributed to new employees, including faculty and staff. The topics covered include multiple dimensions of sustainability (i.e. social, environmental and economic).

EN 8 Staff Professional Development - 2 Points
Institution makes available training and/or other professional development opportunities in sustainability to all staff at least once per year.

Public Engagement- 22 Points

EN 9 Community Partnerships - 3 Points
Institution has one or more formal partnership(s) with the local community, including school districts, government agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses and/or other entities, to work together to advance sustainability within the community.

EN 10 Inter-Campus Collaboration - 2 Points
Institution collaborates with other colleges and universities to support and help build the campus sustainability community.

EN 11 Continuing Education* - 5 Points
Institution offers continuing education courses that address sustainability.

EN 12 Community Service - 5 Points

  • Part 1: Institution engages its student body in community service, as measured by the percentage of students who participate in community service.
  • Part 2: Institution engages students in community service, as measured by the average hours contributed per full-time student per year.

EN 13 Community Stakeholder Engagement - 2 Points
Institution has adopted a framework for community stakeholder engagement in governance, strategy and operations. The framework includes:

  1. Policies and procedures that ensure community stakeholder engagement is applied systematically and regularly across the institution’s activities (e.g. planning and development efforts, capital investment projects, and/or other activities and decisions that affect the broader community), and
  2. Established practices to identify and engage relevant community stakeholders, including any vulnerable or underrepresented groups.

EN 14 Participation in Public Policy - 2 Points
Institution advocates for national, state/provincial, or local public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability.

EN 15 Trademark Licensing* - 2 Points
Institution is a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and/or the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).

EN 16 Hospital Network* - 1 Points
This credit applies to institutions with affiliated hospitals or health systems. Institutions with affiliated hospitals or health systems may pursue this credit regardless of whether the hospital is included its institutional boundary or not.

OPERATIONS - 67-72 Points Available

Air and Climate - 11 Points

OP 1 Greenhouse Gas Emissions - 10 Points
  • Part 1: Institution has conducted a publicly available greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory that includes, at minimum, Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions and may also include Scope 3 GHG emissions. The inventory may be validated internally by campus personnel who are independent of the GHG accounting and reporting process and/or verified by an independent, external third party.
  • Part 2: Institution reduced its adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user compared to a baseline.
  • Part 3: Institution’s annual adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions are less than the minimum performance threshold of 0.02 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per gross square foot (0.002 MtCO2e per gross square metre) of floor area.

OP 2 Outdoor Air Quality - 1 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has adopted policies or guidelines to improve outdoor air quality and minimize air pollutant emissions from mobile sources. Policies and/or guidelines may include, but are not limited to, prohibiting vehicle idling, restrictions on the use of powered lawn care equipment, and other strategies for minimizing mobile emissions. Policies adopted by entities of which the institution is part (e.g. government or university system) may count for Part 1 of this credit as long as the policies apply to and are followed by the institution.
  • Part 2: Institution has completed an inventory of significant air emissions from stationary sources on campus. Significant emissions include nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and other standard categories of air emissions identified in environmental permits held by the institution, international conventions, and/or national laws or regulations.

Buildings- 8 Points

OP 3 Building Operations and Maintenance - 4 Points
Institution owns and operates buildings that are:
  • Certified under a green building rating system for existing buildings, e.g. LEED® for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (O&M) and/or
  • Operated and maintained in accordance with formally adopted sustainable operations and maintenance guidelines and policies that cover all of the following:
    • Impacts on the surrounding site
    • Energy consumption
    • Building-level energy metering
    • Usage of environmentally preferable materials
    • Indoor environmental quality
    • Water consumption
    • Building-level water metering

OP 4 Building Design and Construction* - 3 Points
Institution-owned buildings that were constructed or underwent major renovations in the previous five years are:
  • Certified under a green building rating system for new construction and major renovations (e.g. the LEED® for New Construction and Major Renovations, LEED for Commercial Interiors, LEED for Healthcare, and/or LEED for Core and Shell Green Building Rating Systems)
  • Certified Living under the Living Building Challenge (LBC), and/or
  • Designed and built in accordance with formally adopted green building guidelines and policies that cover all of the following topics:
    • Impacts on the surrounding site
    • Energy consumption
    • Building-level energy metering
    • Usage of environmentally preferable materials
    • Indoor environmental quality
    • Water consumption
    • Building-level water metering

OP 5 Indoor Air Quality - 1 Points
Institution has an indoor air quality (IAQ) management program that includes regular auditing or monitoring, a mechanism for occupants to register complaints, and action plans to implement any corrective measures required in response to audits, monitoring or complaints.

Dining Services - 7 points

OP 6 Food and Beverage Purchasing* - 4 Points
Institution’s dining services purchase food and beverages that meet at least one of the following criteria:
  • Local and community-based, and/or
  • Third party verified to be ecologically sound, fair and/or humane

OP 7 Low Impact Dining* - 3 Points

  • Part 1: Conventionally produced animal products comprise less than 30 percent of the institution’s total dining services food purchases. Conventionally produced animal products include all food products that contain animal derived (i.e. meat, fish, egg, dairy) ingredients that have not been verified to be sustainably produced. Sustainably produced animal products have been either:
    • Third party verified to be ecologically sound and/or humane (see OP 6: Food and Beverage Purchasing), or
    • Verified by the institution to be both ecologically sound and humane (e.g. “Pasture Raised”, “Grass Fed” or “Humanely Raised”) through a relationship with a local producer
  • Part 2: Institution offers diverse, complete-protein vegan options at all meals in at least one dining facility on campus, and provides labels and/or signage that distinguishes between vegan, vegetarian (not vegan), and other items.

Energy - 10 points

OP 8 Building Energy Consumption - 6 Points
  • Part 1: Institution has reduced its total building energy consumption per gross square foot/metre of floor area compared to a baseline.
  • Part 2: Institution’s annual building energy consumption is less than the minimum performance threshold of 28 Btu per gross square foot (2.6 Btu per gross square metre) of floor area per degree day.

OP 9 Clean and Renewable Energy - 4 Points
Institution supports the development and use of clean and renewable energy sources, using any one or combination of the following options.

  • Option 1: Generating electricity from clean and renewable energy sources on campus and retaining or retiring the rights to the environmental attributes of such electricity. (In other words, if the institution has sold Renewable Energy Credits for the clean and renewable energy it generated, it may not claim such energy here.) The on-site renewable energy generating devices may be owned and/or maintained by another party as long as the institution has contractual rights to the associated environmental attributes.
  • Option 2: Using renewable sources for non-electric, on-site energy generation, such as biomass for heating.
  • Option 3: Catalyzing the development of off-site clean and renewable energy sources (e.g. an off-campus wind farm that was designed and built to supply electricity to the institution) and retaining the environmental attributes of that energy.
  • Option 4: Purchasing the environmental attributes of electricity in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) or other similar renewable energy products that are either Green-e Energy certified or meet Green-e Energy’s technical requirements and are verified as such by a third party, or purchasing renewable electricity through the institution’s electric utility through a certified green power purchasing option.

Grounds- 3-4 Points

OP 10 Landscape Management* - 2 Points
Institution's grounds include areas that are managed at one or more of the following levels:
  1. Managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan
  2. Managed in accordance with a sustainable landscape management program and/or
  3. Organic, certified and/or protected

OP 11 Biodiversity* - 1-2 Points
The institution conducts one or both of the following:

  • An assessment to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory
  • species) with habitats on institution-owned or -managed land and/or
  • An assessment to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or -managed land

Purchasing - 6 Points

OP 12 Electronics Purchasing - 1 Points
  • Part 1: Institution has an institution-wide stated preference to purchase computers and/or other electronic products that are EPEAT registered or meet similar multi-criteria sustainability standards for electronic products. This can take the form of purchasing policies, guidelines, or directives.  Policies and directives adopted by entities of which the institution is part (e.g. government or university system) may count for this credit as long as the policies apply to and are followed by the institution.
  • Part 2: Institution purchases EPEAT registered products for desktop and notebook/laptop computers, displays, thin clients, televisions and imaging equipment.

OP 13 Cleaning Product Purchasing - 1 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has an institution-wide stated preference to purchase cleaning and janitorialproducts that are Green Seal™ or UL Environment (EcoLogo)TM certified and/or meet similar multi-criteria sustainability standards for cleaning and janitorial products. This can take the form of purchasing policies, guidelines, or directives. Policies and directives adopted by entities of which the institution is part (e.g. government or the university system) may count for this credit as long as the policies apply to and are followed by the institution.
  • Part 2: Institution’s main cleaning or housekeeping department(s) and/or contractor(s) purchase Green Seal or UL Environment (EcoLogo) certified cleaning and janitorial products.

OP 14 Office Paper Purchasing - 1 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has an institution-wide stated preference to purchase office paper that has recycled content, is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and/or is certified to meet similar multi-criteria sustainability standards for paper. This can take the form of purchasing policies, guidelines, or directives. Policies and directives adopted by entities of which the institution is part (e.g. government or the university system) may count for this credit as long as the policies apply to and are followed by the institution.
  • Part 2: Institution purchases office paper with post-consumer recycled, agricultural residue, and/or FSC certified content.

OP 15 Inclusive and Local Purchasing - 1 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has an institution-wide stated intent to support disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local community-based businesses. Support could take the form of giving preference during RFP processes, conducting targeted outreach to these businesses about opportunities to work with the institution, and/or other efforts to increase purchases made from such businesses.
  • Part 2: Institution makes purchases from companies that include disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises and/or local community-based businesses.

OP 16 Life Cycle Cost Analysis - 1 Points
Institution employs Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) as a matter of policy and practice when evaluating energy- and water-using products and systems. Practices may include structuring RFPs so that vendors compete on the basis of lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) in addition to (or instead of) purchase price.

OP 17 Guidelines for Business Partners - 1 Points
Institution has and acts on policies, guidelines and/or agreements that set expectations about the social and environmental responsibility of its business partners. The policies, guidelines and/or agreements require new and/or existing vendors and contractors and/or franchisees to adhere to:

  • Minimum environmental standards and practices defined by the institution, for example as outlined by the institution’s sustainability policies and/or
  • Minimum standards and practices governing employee wages, benefits, working conditions and rights that are consistent with fundamental International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.

Transportation - 7 Points

OP 18 Campus Fleet* - 1 Points
Institution supports alternative fuel and power technology by including in its motorized vehicle fleet vehicles that are:
  • Gasoline-electric hybrid
  • Diesel-electric hybrid
  • Plug-in hybrid
  • 100 percent electric
  • Fueled with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
  • Hydrogen fueled
  • Fueled with B20 or higher biofuel for more than 4 months of the year, and/or
  • Fueled with locally produced, low-level (e.g. B5) biofuel for more than 4 months of the year (e.g. fuel contains cooking oil recovered and recycled on campus or in the local community)

OP 19 Student Commute Modal Split* - 2 Points
Institution's students commute to and from campus using more sustainable commuting options such as walking, bicycling, vanpooling or carpooling, taking public transportation, riding motorcycles or scooters, riding a campus shuttle, or a combination of these options.

OP 20 Employee Commute Modal Split - 2 Points
Institution's employees (faculty, staff, and administrators) get to and from campus using more sustainable commuting options such as walking, bicycling, vanpooling or carpooling, taking public transportation, riding motorcycles or scooters, riding a campus shuttle, telecommuting, or a combination of these options.

OP 21 Support for Sustainable Transportation - 2 Points
The institution demonstrates its support for active (i.e. non-motorized) transportation on campus in one or more of the following ways:

  • Option A: Institution provides:
    • Secure bicycle storage (not including office space), shower facilities, and lockers for bicycle commuters. The storage, shower facilities and lockers are co-located in at least one building/location that is accessible to all commuters.
    • Provides short-term bicycle parking (e.g. racks) within 50 ft (15 m) of all occupied, non-residential buildings and makes long-term bicycle storage available within 330 ft (100 m) of all residence halls (if applicable).
    • Has a “complete streets” or bicycle accommodation policy (or adheres to a local community policy) and/or has a continuous network of dedicated bicycle and pedestrian paths and lanes that connects all occupied buildings and at least one inter-modal transportation node (i.e. transit stop or station), and/or
    • Has a bicycle-sharing program or participates in a local bicycle-sharing program
  • Option B: Institution is certified as a Bicycle Friendly University (at any level) by the League of American Bicyclists (U.S.) or under a similar third party certification for non-motorized transportation.

Waste -10 Points

OP 22 Waste Minimization - 5 Points
  • Part 1: Institution has implemented source reduction strategies to reduce the total amount of waste generated (materials diverted + materials disposed) per weighted campus user compared to a baseline.
  • Part 2: Institution’s total annual waste generation (materials diverted and disposed) is less than the minimum performance threshold of 0.45 tons (0.41 tonnes) per weighted campus user.

OP 23 Waste Diversion - 3 Points
Institution diverts materials from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, reusing, donating, or re-selling.

OP 24 Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion* - 1 Points
Institution diverts non-hazardous construction and demolition waste from the landfill and/or incinerator.

OP 25 Hazardous Waste Management - 1 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has strategies in place to safely dispose of all hazardous, special (e.g. coal ash), universal, and non-regulated chemical waste and seeks to minimize the presence of these materials on campus.
  • Part 2: Institution has a program in place to recycle, reuse, and/or refurbish electronic waste generated by the institution and/or its students. Institution takes measures to assure that the electronic waste is recycled responsibly, for example by using a recycler certified under Stewards  and/or R2 Standards.

Water - 5-9 points available

OP 26 Water Use 2-6 Points
  • Part 1: Institution has reduced its potable water use per weighted campus user compared to a
  • baseline.
  • Part 2: Institution has reduced its potable water use per gross square foot/metre of floor area
  • compared to a baseline.
  • Part 3: Institution has reduced its total water use (potable + non-potable) per acre/hectare of vegetated grounds compared to a baseline.

OP 27 Rainwater Management - 2 Points

  • Part 1: Institution uses Low Impact Development (LID) practices as a matter of policy or standard practice to reduce rainwater/stormwater runoff volume and improve outgoing water quality for new construction, major renovation, and other projects that increase paved surface area on campus or otherwise significantly change the campus grounds. The policy, plan, and/or strategies cover the entire campus. While the specific strategies or practices adopted may vary depending on project type and location, this credit is reserved for institutions that mitigate rainwater runoff impacts consistently during new construction. Implementing a strategy or strategies for only one new development project is not sufficient for Part 1 of this credit.
  • Part 2: Institution has adopted a rainwater/stormwater management policy, plan, and/or strategies that mitigate the rainwater runoff impacts of ongoing campus operations and treat rainwater as a resource rather than as a waste product. The policy, plan, and/or strategies address both the quantity and quality (or contamination level) of rainwater runoff through the use of green infrastructure. Though specific practices adopted may vary across the campus, the policy, plan, and/or strategies cover the entire institution. Implementing strategies for only one building or area of campus is not sufficient for Part 2 of this credit.

OP 28 Wastewater Management - 1 Points
Institution’s wastewater is handled naturally on campus or in the local community. Natural wastewater systems include, but are not limited to, constructed treatment wetlands and Living Machines. To count, wastewater must be treated to secondary or tertiary standards prior to release to water bodies.

PLANNING & ADMINISTRATION - 32 Points Available

Coordination, Planning and Governance - 8 Points


PA 1 Sustainability Coordination - 1 Points
Institution has at least one sustainability committee, office, and/or officer tasked by the administration or board of trustees to advise on and implement policies and programs related to sustainability on campus. The committee, office, and/or officer focus on sustainability broadly (i.e. not just one sustainability issue, such as climate change) and cover the entire institution.

PA 2 Sustainability Planning - 4 Points
Institution has current and formal plans to advance sustainability. The plan(s) cover one or more of the following areas:

  • Curriculum
  • Research (or other scholarship appropriate for the institution)
  • Campus Engagement
  • Public Engagement
  • Air & Climate
  • Buildings
  • Dining Services/Food
  • Energy
  • Grounds
  • Purchasing
  • Transportation
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Diversity & Affordability
  • Health, Wellbeing & Work
  • Investment
  • Other

PA 3 Governance - 3 Points

  • Part 1: Institution’s students participate in governance in one or more of the following ways:
    • All enrolled students, regardless of type or status, have an avenue to participate in one or more governance bodies (through direct participation or the election of representatives)
    • There is at least one student representative on the institution’s governing body. To count, student representatives must be elected by their peers or appointed by a representative student body or organization, and/or
    • Students have a formal role in decision-making in regard to one or more of the following:
      • Establishing organizational mission, vision, and/or goals
      • Establishing new policies, programs, or initiatives
      • Strategic and long-term planning
      • Existing or prospective physical resources
      • Budgeting, staffing and financial planning
      • Communications processes and transparency practices
      • Prioritization of programs and projects
  • Part 2: Institution’s staff participate in governance in one or more of the following ways:
    • All staff members, regardless of type or status, have an avenue to participate in one or more governance bodies (through direct participation or the election of representatives)
    • There is at least one non-supervisory staff representative on the institution’s governing body. To count, staff representatives must be elected by their peers or appointed by a representative staff body or organization, and/or
    • Non-supervisory staff have a formal role in decision-making in regard to one or more of the areas outlined in Part 1
  • Part 3: Institution’s faculty participate in governance in one or more of the following ways:
    • All faculty members, regardless of type or status, have an avenue to participate in one or more governance bodies (through direct participation or the election of representatives)
    • There is at least one teaching or research faculty representative on the institution’s governing body. To count, faculty representatives must be elected by their peers or appointed by a representative faculty body or organization, and/or
    • Faculty have a formal role in decision-making in regard to one or more of the areas
    • outlined in Part 1.

Diversity and Affordability - 10 Points

PA 4 Diversity and Equity Coordination - 2 Points
  • Part 1: Institution has a diversity and equity committee, office and/or officer tasked by the administration or governing body to advise on and implement policies, programs, and trainings related to diversity and equity on campus. The committee, office and/or officer focuses on student and/or employee diversity and equity.
  • Part 2: Institution makes cultural competence trainings and activities available to all members of one or more of the following groups:
    • Students
    • Staff
    • Faculty
    • Administrators

PA 5 Assessing Diversity and Equity - 1 Points
Institution assesses diversity and equity on campus and uses the results to guide policy,programs, and initiatives. The assessment(s) address one or more of the following areas:

  • Campus climate, e.g. through a survey or series of surveys to gather information about the attitudes, perceptions and experiences of campus stakeholders and underrepresented groups
  • Student diversity and educational equity, e.g. through analysis of institutional data on diversity and equity by program and level, comparisons between graduation and retention rates for diverse groups, and comparisons of student diversity to the diversity of the communities being served by the institution
  • Employee diversity and employment equity, e.g. through analysis of institutional data on diversity and equity by job level and classification, and comparisons between broad workforce diversity, faculty diversity, management diversity and the diversity of the communities being served by the institution
  • Governance and public engagement, e.g. by assessing access to and participation in governance on the part of underrepresented groups and women, the centrality of diversity and equity in planning and mission statements, and diversity and equity in public engagement efforts.

PA 6 Support for Underrepresented Groups - 2 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has mentoring, counseling, peer support, academic support, or other programs in place to support underrepresented groups on campus. This credit excludes programs to help build a diverse faculty throughout higher education, which are covered in PA 7: Support for Future Faculty Diversity.
  • Part 2: Institution has a discrimination response policy, program and/or team (or the equivalent) to respond to and support those who have experienced or witnessed a bias incident, act of discrimination or hate crime.

PA 7 Support for Future Faculty Diversity - 1 Points
Institution administers and/or participates in a program or programs to help build a diverse faculty throughout higher education. Such programs could take any of the following forms:

  • Teaching fellowships or other programs to support terminal degree students from underrepresented groups in gaining teaching experience. (The terminal degree students may be enrolled at another institution.)
  • Mentoring, financial, and/or other support programs to prepare and encourage undergraduate or other non-terminal degree students from underrepresented groups to pursue further education and careers as faculty members.
  • Mentoring, financial, and/or other support programs for doctoral and post-doctoral students from underrepresented groups.

PA 8 Affordability and Access - 4 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has policies and programs in place to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students and/or to support non-traditional students. Such policies and programs may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students
    • Programs to equip the institution's faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds
    • Programs to prepare students from low-income backgrounds for higher education (e.g. US federal TRIO programs)
    • Scholarships provided specifically for low-income students
    • Programs to guide parents of low-income students through the higher education experience
    • Targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds
    • Scholarships provided specifically for part-time students
    • An on-site child care facility, a partnership with local facility and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students
  • Part 2: Institution is accessible and affordable to low-income students as demonstrated by one ormore of the following indicators:
    • The percentage of entering students that are low-income
    • The graduation/success rate for low-income students
    • The percentage of student financial need met, on average
    • The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt

Health, Well-Being and Work - 7 Points


PA 9 Employee Compensation - 3 Points
  • Part 1:
  • Institution’s employees and/or the employees of its on-site contractors are covered by sustainable compensation standards, guidelines, or policies and/or collective bargaining agreements.
  • A sustainable compensation (or “living wage”) standard, guideline or policy is one that addresses wages and benefits in terms of the ability of employees to meet basic needs. For example, a sustainable compensation policy may index hourly wages to a poverty guideline or to local cost-of-living indicators. A labor market survey, salary survey or similar assessment may be used in conjunction with a basic needs/cost-of-living approach, but is not sufficient on its own to count as a sustainable compensation policy.
  • Part 2: Institution’s employees and/or the employees of its on-site contractors receive sustainable compensation. To earn points for Part 2 of this credit, an institution must assess employee compensation against one or more of the following:
  • A sustainable compensation standard developed or adopted by a committee with multi-stakeholder representation (i.e. its membership includes faculty, staff, and students and may include Human Resources administrators or other parties). The standard need not be formally adopted by the institution.
  • A sustainable compensation standard that is in use in the institution’s locality. The standard may be formal (e.g. a “living wage” ordinance covering public employees) or informal (e.g. a standard adopted by a local, regional or national campaign).
  • An appropriate poverty guideline, threshold or low-income cut-off for a family of four.

PA 10 Assessing Employee Satisfaction - 1 Points
Institution conducts a survey or other evaluation that allows for anonymous feedback to measure employee satisfaction and engagement. The survey or equivalent may be conducted institution-wide or may be done by individual departments or divisions. The evaluation addresses (but is not limited to) the following areas:

  • Job satisfaction 
  • Learning and advancement opportunities
  • Work culture and work/life balance

PA 11 Wellness Program - 1 Points
Institution has a wellness and/or employee assistance program that makes available counseling, referral, and wellbeing services to all members of any of the following groups:

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Faculty

PA 12 Workplace Health and Safety - 2 Points

  • Part 1: Institution has reduced its total number of reportable workplace injuries and occupational disease cases per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee compared to a baseline.
  • Part 2: Institution has fewer than 5 reportable workplace injuries and occupational disease cases annually per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.

Investment- 7 Points

PA 13 Committee on Investor Responsibility* - 2 Points
Institution has a formally established and active committee on investor responsibility (CIR) or similar body that makes recommendations to fund decision-makers on socially and environmentally responsible investment opportunities across asset classes, including proxy voting. The body has multi-stakeholder representation, which means its membership includes faculty, staff, and students and may include alumni, trustees, and/or other parties.

PA 14 Sustainable Investment* - 4 Points
There are two possible approaches to this credit; institutions may pursue one or both. Institutions for which investments are handled by the university system, a separate foundation of the institution and/or a management company contracted by the institution should report on the combined activities of those entities.

  • Option 1: Positive Sustainability Investment Institution invests in one or more of the following:
    • Sustainable industries (e.g. renewable energy or sustainable forestry). This may include any investment directly in an entire industry sector as well as holdings of companies whose entire business is sustainable (e.g. a manufacturer of wind turbines).
    • Businesses selected for exemplary sustainability performance (e.g. using criteria specified in a sustainable investment policy). This includes investments made, at least in part, because of a company's social or environmental performance. Existing stock in a company that happens to have socially or environmentally responsible practices should not be included unless the investment decision was based, at least in part, on the company's sustainability performance.
    • Sustainability investment funds (e.g. a renewable energy or impact investment fund). This may include any fund with a mission of investing in a sustainable sector or industry (or multiple sectors), as well as any fund that is focused on purchasing bonds with sustainable goals.
    • Community development financial institutions (CDFI) or the equivalent (including funds that invest primarily in CDFIs or the equivalent).
    • Socially responsible mutual funds with positive screens (or the equivalent). Investment in a socially responsible fund with only negative screens (i.e. one that excludes egregious offenders or certain industries, such as tobacco or weapons manufacturing) does not count for Option 1.
    • Green revolving loan funds that are funded from the endowment.
  • Option 2: Investor Engagement. Institution has policies and/or practices that meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • Has a publicly available sustainable investment policy (e.g. to consider the social and/or environmental impacts of investment decisions in addition to financial considerations)
    • Uses its sustainable investment policy to select and guide investment managers
    • Has engaged in proxy voting to promote sustainability, either by its CIR or other committee or through the use of guidelines, during the previous three years
    • Has filed or co-filed one or more shareholder resolutions that address sustainability or submitted one or more letters about social or environmental responsibility to a company in which it holds investments, during the previous three years
    • Has a publicly available investment policy with negative screens, for example to prohibit investment in an industry (e.g. tobacco or weapons manufacturing) or participate in a divestment effort (e.g. targeting fossil fuel production or human rights violations)
    • Engages in policy advocacy by participating in investor networks (e.g. Principles for Responsible Investment, Investor Network on Climate Risk, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility) and/or engages in inter-organizational collaborations to share best practices.

PA 15 Investment Disclosure* - 1 Points

  • Institution makes a snapshot of its investment holdings available to the public, including the amount invested in each fund and/or company and proxy voting records. The snapshot of holdings is updated at least once per year.
  • Institutions for which investments are handled by the university system, a separate foundation of the institution and/or a management company contracted by the institution should report on the combined activities of those entities.

INNOVATION - 4 Points Available

Innovation - 4 Points

  1. Innovation credits are reserved for new, extraordinary, unique, ground-breaking, or uncommon outcomes, policies, and practices that greatly exceed the highest criterion of an existing STARS credit or are not covered by an existing STARS credit. In general, innovation credits should have roughly similar impacts or be on the same scale as other STARS credits.
  2. Outcomes, policies, and practices that are innovative for the institution’s region or institution type are eligible for innovation credits.
  3. The innovative practice, policy, program, or outcome must have occurred within the three years prior to the anticipated date of submission.
  4. The innovative practice or program has to be something that the institution has already done; planned activities do not count.
  5. The innovative practice or program should originate from an area within the defined institutional boundary.
  6. An institution can only claim a particular activity as an innovation credit once. When re-submitting for a STARS rating, an innovation credit that the institution submitted previously cannot be re-submitted. An institution that has made significant advancements to a project or program that was previously submitted as an innovation may resubmit based on those advancements if the project or program is still considered innovative.
  7. Practices, policies, and programs that were once considered innovative but are now widely adopted (e.g. being the first institution to enact a policy 20 years ago that is now common) may not be claimed as innovation credits.
  8. Multiple activities or practices whose sum is innovative can be considered for an innovation credit as long as those activities or practices are related. For example, three innovative waste reduction programs in research laboratories could be listed together under a single innovation credit for Greening Laboratories. Listing a series of unrelated accomplishments or events under a single innovation credit is not accepted.
  9. While the practices that led to receiving an award may be appropriate for an innovation credit, winning awards and/or high sustainability rankings in other assessments is not, in and of itself, grounds for an innovation credit. When the innovation is part of a partnership, the summary provided must clearly describe the institution’s role in the innovation.

* credit does not appy to all institutions

For more information on STARS, including the complete technical manual, visit: https://stars.aashe.org/

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