HSU Earns Silver STARS Rating for Sustainability

HSU campus near library
Humboldt State University recently received a Silver Rating in STARS, a nationwide program that evaluates an institution’s programs and practices in sustainability. The rating places HSU among the nation’s leaders in sustainability.

“I’m so proud of this rating, as everyone at this university should be,” said HSU President Rollin Richmond. “It highlights the good work we are doing, and lets the rest of the world know about it as well. The report also helps us see where we can improve, and I’m excited about our potential to do even more.”

STARS – the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System – is a program that measures sustainability performance in all aspects of higher education. It was developed by a group of institutions from across the country, and is overseen by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

This is the first time Humboldt State has conducted a STARS analysis. The strong rating reflects the university’s longstanding commitment to both environmental and social responsibility – important concepts underlying sustainability.

Humboldt State frequently appears in sustainability rankings by magazines and organizations. Most recently, it was once again named to Princeton Review’s Green Colleges for 2013.

Achieving a rating of any level in STARS is a complex undertaking. HSU’s Office of Sustainability led the year-long effort to develop and collect data for the comprehensive self-assessment. It covered a broad array of university functions and facilities, and departments from across campus were involved.

The data in the report is used to benchmark Humboldt State’s performance with that of more than 300 other institutions that have so far decided to participate in STARS. Credits are awarded for three areas: education & research, operations & planning and administration & engagement.

Currently, just 287 institutions have submitted assessments for STARS. Since 2011 AASHE has bestowed no platinum ratings, 45 gold, 123 silver and 62 bronze. HSU joins five other CSU campuses in earning a silver rating: Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Channel Islands, CSU Fullerton, San Diego State and San Jose State. CSU Monterey Bay is the only Cal State campus to earn a gold rating.

All of the detailed credits of member institutions are posted online. The STARS site enables users to filter data for specific universities, sustainability categories and rating levels.

Achievements noted in the report include HSU’s commitment to sustainability in a range of academic programs and co-curricular education. HSU’s academic catalog and website make it easy to find sustainability focused courses. And all students benefit from efforts like PowerSave Green Campus and the Waste Reduction & Resource Awareness Program, which provides education about energy savings and waste management.

Humboldt State has a long history of sustainable practices. The university’s Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, an eco-demonstration house, was established in 1978. The Department of Environmental Resources Engineering is one of the oldest academic programs of its kind, and the Schatz Energy Research Center conducts pioneering work in renewable energy. Through a student-approved fee, the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund takes on energy efficiency projects on campus. The Business School has recently revamped its MBA to focus on strategic sustainability. The list of achievements and programs is long.

Founded in 2006, AASHE generates important information and resources for advancing the concepts of sustainability in higher education. Member colleges and universities model and advance sustainability across-the-board, from education and research to governance and operations.

The report can be found at the STARS website or the HSU sustainability website.