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Published September 27, 2019
The University of Wyoming has received a STARS Bronze rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) measures and encourages sustainability in higher education. With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, the program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to the public. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal tracking and comparisons with similar institutions.
UW’s “Breaking Through: 2017-2022” strategic plan includes a high-performing university goal.
“Achieving AASHE STARS Bronze serves as a performance indicator for honoring a commitment to the environment. UW has achieved its 2022 target three years early with the Bronze rating,” says Rachael Budowle, a UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources assistant professor. “Beyond meeting strategic plan goals, STARS recognizes UW’s current sustainability achievements while identifying sustainability gaps and opportunities.”
UW Acting President Neil Theobald praises the committee for its STARS achievement.
“The University of Wyoming is emerging as a model of sustainable practices and education. The Campus Sustainability Committee is moving our university forward on issues such as energy, education and research, environmental quality and recycling,” Theobald says. “Their efforts have inspired students, faculty and staff across campus to make sustainability central to everything we do at UW.”
Reporting to AASHE STARS required a major data collection effort during the 2018-19 academic year across numerous academic, administrative and operational units and student activities, says Budowle, who was the Campus Sustainability Committee co-chair during the first reporting process. The Campus Sustainability Committee, composed of staff, faculty and student members, led the effort with support from the Office of the President and three paid student interns.
“We are pleased to achieve a STARS Bronze rating with our first reporting attempt. The reporting process has allowed us to celebrate what we are doing well and make comparisons with peer institutions,” Budolie says. “Our hope is that the report also will allow UW to thoughtfully plan for sustainability coordination and improvements over time.”
STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts, says AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser.
“The University of Wyoming has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Bronze rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts,” she adds.
STARS participants report achievements in four main credit areas: academics; engagement; operations; planning and administration; and an additional innovation and leadership category.
UW earned credits across all four main credit areas, including full credit for using campus as a living laboratory for sustainability and providing a sustainability immersive experience for students. Additional credits come from areas ranging from building energy consumption to community partnerships to diversity and equity coordination.
“Room remains to achieve additional credits in all areas, some of which could occur through data monitoring and collection improvements alone,” Budowle says. “Haub School students have helped us identify near-reach credits and those that would require a heavier lift to make improvements and eventually achieve a STARS Silver or higher rating.”
To view UW’s 2019 STARS report, click here.
For more information, email the UW Campus Sustainability Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.