MISSOULA – University of Montana recently earned a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of their sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is a new program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
“Students, faculty and staff worked together to compile the data and create campuswide awareness of UM’s sustainability accomplishments,” said UM Sustainability Coordinator Cherie Peacock.
Peacock and student Sustainability Coordinator Eva Rocke taught students enrolled in the environmental studies course Sustainability Evaluation and Monitoring to gather STARS data. Through student interaction, faculty and staff members also learned about STARS, resulting in new collaborations and some immediate improvements stemming from individual initiative.
“UM is a sustainability leader, and we are the first in our region to complete STARS,” said UM President Royce Engstrom. “UM expresses our commitment to sustainability through our strategic plan, our pledge to carbon neutrality by 2020, and as a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. I believe UM’s STARS report is an accurate reflection of the important work underway and UM’s commitment to sustainability.”
AASHE’s 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: and administration and engagement.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Stephanie Herrera. “The University of Montana has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for its efforts.”
This program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. 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.
“We are very proud to have achieved a STARS rating for our sustainability accomplishments,” Peacock said. “We look forward to improving our sustainability efforts and measuring our success through the STARS program.”
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that works to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. For more information about AASHE, visit http://www.aashe.org/. For more information about the STARS program, visit https://stars.aashe.org/.