This policy serves to guide the development and maintenance of the STARS. The goals of the STARS governance structure are to:

  • Engage the higher education community in providing technical and strategic guidance for STARS.
  • Facilitate continuous improvement of the STARS program.
  • Provide strategic guidance to STARS, including sound financial oversight.
  • Enhance the transparency of the STARS program.

STARS Governance StructureThere are several components of the STARS governance structure illustrated in the diagram above. Three of these entities are highlighted here:

  • Technical Committees

    A. Qualifications

    Technical Committees are topical subcommittees of the AASHE Advisory Council (AC). The Technical Committees are based on STARS categories or subcategories. While AASHE may consult with additional subject matter experts who are not AC members, the Technical Committees are the primary source for input and insight regarding the content of STARS credits and the technical aspects of the rating system.

    Technical Committee members should possess:

    • The ability and desire to contribute technical expertise in an unbiased manner.
    • A strong expertise in at least one content area covered in STARS.
    • Familiarity with sustainability indicators.
    • Effective communication skills.
    • The ability to be collaborative and work well on a team.

    B. Selection

    Participation is voluntary. Any AC member may elect to participate in one or more Technical Committee.

    C. Roles and Responsibilities

    • Technical Committee members respond to inquiries specific to their areas of expertise from AASHE staff and contribute to the ongoing technical development of STARS. For more information, see the STARS Technical Development Policy.
    • Each Technical Committee may be asked to provide written responses to questions posed by AASHE staff and may also be convened by staff via conference call as needed. AASHE staff incorporate the input from Technical Committees into proposals for the STARS Steering Committee.
    • Technical Committee members participate by email, attend calls and contribute sufficient time, effort, and enthusiasm to ensure that STARS is technically rigorous and up-to-date. The time commitment is estimated to be 1-2 hours per month. AC members receive no remuneration for their services.
    • Technical Committee members also play a role if the validity of STARS data is called into question as detailed in the STARS Data Accuracy Policy.

    D. Terms

    Terms of service are consistent with Advisory Council membership.

    E. Guidelines for Recusal from Decision-Making

    If a Technical Committee member becomes aware of a possible or actual conflict of interest with regard to having a previous and/or ongoing personal or professional relationship with any STARS institution(s) or partner organization(s), the member shall notify the STARS Program Manager in writing of the conflict of interest and explain the nature of the conflict. Technical Advisors are expected to recuse themselves from discussion and/or providing input to recommendations if they become aware that the matter at hand involves and/or is brought to STARS by an institution or organization with which the member is affiliated or has been affiliated in the past (as an employee, consultant, alumnus, parent of a student, etc.). Recusal should be submitted in writing to the STARS Program Manager.

  • STARS Steering Committee

    A. Qualifications

    The STARS Steering Committee (SC) is composed of seven to nine representatives from AASHE member organizations and/or STARS Partner Organizations, and may also include up to three members of the AASHE Board of Directors. The STARS Program Manager and the AASHE Director of Programs serve as ex-officio members of the committee, with the former having voting privileges. The committee is led by a Chair (or co-chairs) selected by the committee; the term is one year. If needed, additional staff support for the committee is identified by the STARS Program Manager or AASHE Director of Programs.

    Steering Committee members should possess:

    • A deep understanding of AASHE’s mission and the goals of STARS
    • Familiarity with at least one of the content areas covered in STARS
    • Familiarity with rating systems
    • Familiarity with sustainability indicators
    • Effective communication skills
    • Ability to be collaborative and work well on a team

    B. Selection

    • Application. A call for applications is issued annually unless there are insufficient vacant slots to warrant an election. AASHE staff determine the number of open positions, review all applications and put forward a slate of eligible candidates.
    • Election and Appointment. The primary contact for each AASHE member organization is issued a ballot through which the organization may vote for its preferred candidate(s). At least half of the open positions are filled by member vote. The remaining openings are filled through appointment by the STARS Program Manager in consultation with the AASHE Director of Programs to help ensure that at least half of the SC is campus-based and that the diversity of STARS participants, AASHE members and the campus sustainability community is represented.
    • Additional Appointments. Additional appointments may be made by the STARS Program Manager in consultation with the AASHE Director of Programs when vacancies occur. For example, a qualified substitute may be appointed to serve during an SC member’s maternity, paternity or adoptive leave.
    • Board Representatives. AASHE Board of Directors members who serve on the committee will be appointed in accordance with Board of Director policies and procedures for committee appointments.

    C. Roles and Responsibilities

    STARS Steering Committee members:

    • Advise on STARS policy, finances, and strategic positioning in response to proposals from staff and other committee members and make recommendations to the AASHE Board of Directors and STARS staff as necessary. For example, the Steering Committee may be asked to provide feedback on topics such as educational offerings, revenue opportunities, partnerships or other activities related to the success of the program.
    • Review and approve updates and revisions to the technical content of STARS, including each new version.
    • Determine the appropriate course of action when a submission is contested and the issue cannot be resolved by staff.

    The committee generally meets once a month by conference call and in-person as needed. Members are expected to attend calls and contribute sufficient time to address the continued development and strategic positioning of STARS. Members receive no remuneration for their services. A committee member may be asked to step down if they miss more than three meetings in a year.

    D. Terms

    Terms limits for committee members are three years and members may be reselected for a second term (not to exceed six consecutive years). AASHE’s Director of Programs and STARS Program Manager reserve the right to remove a Steering Committee member from the position without cause.

    E. Quorum

    At any meeting of the Steering Committee a majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum for the approval of policies or other decisions.

    F. Action at Meeting

    At any meeting of the Steering Committee at which a quorum is present, the action of the Committee on any matter brought before the meeting shall be decided by vote of a majority of voting members present.

    G. Guidelines for Recusal from Decision-Making

    If a STARS Steering Committee member becomes aware of a possible or actual conflict of interest with regard to having a previous and/or ongoing personal or professional relationship with any STARS institution(s) or partner organization(s), the member shall notify the STARS Program Manager in writing of the conflict of interest and explain the nature of the conflict.

    Committee members are expected to recuse themselves from discussion and/or providing input to recommendations if they become aware that the matter at hand involves and/or is brought to STARS by an institution or organization with which the Steering Committee member is affiliated or has been affiliated in the past (as an employee, consultant, alumnus, parent of a student, etc.). Recusal should be submitted in writing to the STARS Program Manager.

  • AASHE Board of Directors
    The AASHE Board of Directors is responsible for fiscal policies. The Board of Directors selects representative Directors to serve on the STARS Steering Committee. Details about the qualifications, selection process, and term limits for AASHE’s Board of Directors are available in the AASHE By-laws.