A national program that measures accomplishments in sustainability in higher education has once again placed UMass Amherst as one of the most sustainable campuses in North America. The “gold” rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program recognizes sustainability accomplishments in areas such as academics, research, engagement, operations and administration.
While UMass Amherst achieved gold status in all previous STARS ratings in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2018, the university’s 2020 score of 76.93 marks its highest ever, an achievement made more notable due to the increased standards the STARS program has implemented in its new version 2.2 scoring system. Overall, UMass Amherst has the seventh-highest rating among public doctoral-granting institutions with 20,000+ enrollment, and the 20th-highest of all 373 U.S. schools with STARS ratings. The university’s complete 2020 STARS report card can be reviewed on the AASHE website.
“UMass Amherst makes sustainability a priority in our policies and practices as well as the education we provide our students,” Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy wrote in a letter that was part of the reporting process. “We have undertaken the challenge of addressing the sustainability of our own practices and behaviors by launching three separate task forces to address carbon mitigation, resiliency planning and waste reduction. Each task force is charged with developing goals and plans to improve the sustainability of our campus and these efforts will result in investments in our long-term sustainability.”
“We have been a STARS Gold institution for almost a decade now,” says Ezra Small, campus sustainability manager at UMass Amherst. “We have a lot of momentum to continue to advance all aspects of sustainability. We just completed a campus waste assessment study that provides us with a dozen recommendations for waste minimization and we are in the middle of two concurrent planning initiatives for carbon mitigation and campus resiliency, which all will give us bold and revolutionary strategies for helping us move towards becoming a STARS Platinum university.”
To prepare the rating application, sustainability staff and others involved in “green” campus efforts used an online sustainability evaluation tool to report data in the categories of academics, campus engagement, operations and planning/administration. This year’s review is the most thorough and accurate ever provided to the STARS program by UMass Amherst, as the university enlisted the assistance of Greener U, who performed a third-party review of the campus sustainability data prior to its submission to the AASHE.
Launched in 2006, the STARS program is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Developed by the AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community, STARS participants submit data to earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating, or recognition as a STARS Reporter. The credits are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations and Planning & Administration. As of March 1, 2019, STARS reports were submitted by 503 institutions in 12 countries, covering 47 US States and eight Canadian provinces. All reports are publicly accessible at www.stars.aashe.org.
UMass Amherst Once Again Achieves Gold Status as One of North America’s Most Sustainable Universities
Photos from Ben Barnhart