Humboldt State Recognized for Sustainable Campus and Curriculum

Humboldt State University has been recognized as a top performer in the 2017 Sustainable Campus Index.

The Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights top-performing colleges and universities as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). STARS is a comprehensive rating system that addresses environmental, social and economic sustainability.

HSU, a STARS gold-rated University, achieved top master’s institution performer status by earning a high score for its sustainability programs.

Sustainability is widely reflected in the vision and values of Humboldt State. Conserving resources, championing social responsibility, and reducing its overall carbon footprint are goals of numerous initiatives and policies. As is the case with many green endeavors at Humboldt State, students are deeply involved in creating a campus that operates with sustainability in mind.

Initiatives at HSU include Power Down events, which seek to promote energy conservation and multiple alternative transportation modes like no-cost bus rides for students and a bike rental program.

The HSU Climate Action Plan is a planning and policy document designed to guide the University’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The near-term target is to reduce emissions to or below 1990 levels by 2020. HSU President Lisa Rossbacher has made it a goal for the University to become carbon neutral by 2030, and after that to go carbon negative.

In addition, the University’s Strategic Plan lays out priorities, goals and concrete steps that include sustainability measures like serving as effective stewards of the environment and preparing students to be socially and environmentally responsible leaders.

Student activities include the Campus Center for Appropriate Technologies, the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund, the Green Campus Program, a waste reduction program and more. Read about all of the efforts here.

“Humboldt State’s feature in this report shows its significant leadership and commitment to advance sustainability,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We are excited to recognize HSU for working to secure a thriving, equitable and ecologically healthy world through its comprehensive sustainability efforts.”

HSU was also highlighted for its sustainability curriculum. It is among the first institutions to be recognized in STARS for sustainability course designation in standard course catalogs or listings. A committee of faculty and staff first convened in 2012 to evaluate courses and give them sustainability designations. Courses deemed sustainability-focused or sustainability-related were given a graphical representation of “leaves” next to the entry in the catalog, and class schedules were published with a new column identifying sustainability courses. The course identification process was repeated during the 2016-2017 academic year for all newer courses.

HSU’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.


The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community.

The credits included in STARS span the breadth of higher education sustainability and are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. All reports are publicly accessible on the STARS website. For more information, visit

About the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

AASHE empowers higher education administrators, faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. It work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit Follow AASHE on Facebook and Twitter.

This story was originally published on Nov. 6, 2017