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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.22 / 4.00 Allie Schwartz
Assistant Manager
Environmental Stewardship
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

The percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy (directly or by representative sample) and for whom a follow-up assessment is conducted:

The percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy (directly or by representative sample) without a follow-up assessment:

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):
The questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s) :

See attached file.

A brief description of how the assessment(s) were developed:

Focus groups were used to create the questions and get a pulse on what were hot button sustainability issues to assess for Columbia's community.

A brief description of how the assessment(s) were administered:

The survey was distributed to all faculty, staff and students at the University. Participation was voluntary.

A brief summary of results from the assessment(s):

After a review of all data collected throughout the Human Behavior Energy AuditSM (HBEA) investigation, ECTBC identified seven key findings which, if addressed, would position Columbia to take immediate steps towards reaching their environmental and sustainability goals while enhancing a culture of energy-efficiency. These findings are followed by a set of general recommendations that are open to interpretation and discussion.

Finding 1: The perceptions of existing conservation efforts of Columbia Faculty/Staff and Residential Students are low: this is associated with low participation rates, resulting in a diminished campus energy conservation culture.
Finding 2: Survey respondents across both groups demonstrated a similar degree of misunderstanding about screen savers, vehicle idling and fan usage.
Finding 3: Faculty/Staff and Residential Students reported moderate levels of personal responsibility with respect to energy conservation on campus.
Finding 4: The HBEA results identified immediate opportunities to engage Sustainable Behavior Change practices in order to reduce energy consumption and produce savings.
Finding 5: A majority (63-94%) of both groups reported that they would voluntarily change specific behaviors if Columbia accommodated them with an energy efficient alternative.
Finding 6: Residential Students reported that 1 out of 4 light bulbs brought onto campus are energy wasting incandescent bulbs. Faculty/Staff were worse, with one of 3 bulbs they brought onto campus being incandescent. Extrapolating from the HBEA survey results, for Residential Students alone, over one million kilowatt hours are consumed annually on Columbia's campus.
Finding 7: The issue of recycling consistently came up amongst faculty, staff and students. While recycling behaviors amongst faculty/staff are slightly higher than those of students, opportunities exist to improve the recycling experience. ECTBC recommends an audit of campus recycling followed by a consensus approach.

The website URL where information about the literacy assessment(s) is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.