Western Colorado University has earned a silver STARS rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
A Framework for Sustainable Campuses
The comprehensive rating system is designed to provide a framework for understanding sustainability in colleges and universities. Through this evaluation, higher education institutions enable meaningful comparisons over time using a common set of measurements. Not only does this create an incentive to continue the improvements towards sustainability, it also promotes a diverse community resource stewardship across college campuses.
“This process is rigorous and involves data from staff and faculty all across campus,” said Julie Baca, Vice President of Administration.
With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, the STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership.
In 2016, Western’s Sustainability Action Committee submitted the first evaluation of the campus to STARS. Under the 2.0 version of the criteria at the time, Western earned a bronze ranking.
This year, under the 2.2 version of the criteria—a much more rigorous version—Western received a silver rank under the guidance of Ashely Woolman, Western’s sustainability technician. Woolman was a pioneer for Western’s efforts but has since taken a job with the Colorado State Forest Service.
Race to Zero Waste
One initiative Woolman launched was participation in the “Race to 0 Waste” competition against 95 institutions. During the eight-week campaign, Western recycled 23,600 pounds of waste including plastics, aluminum, tin, glass, cardboard, paper and food. By doing so, Western diverted 14% of waste from the landfill.
“She was with us only a short time in the role, but she had a big impact, and her work ethic and ingenuity will be greatly missed,” said Baca. “Thank you to all of our campus community for engaging in and supporting our sustainability efforts on campus. Congratulations to Ashley and SAC and we are all grateful for your hard work and look forward to your continued success to meet our climate commitment goals.”
Discover Sustainable Campus Initiatives
Western continues to work toward a more sustainable university. Discover our ongoing sustainable campus operations and get involved today.
Author Credit: Kinlee Whitney