STARS PlatinumArizona State University, Cornell University, Université de Sherbrooke, and University of Connecticut are the latest institutions to earn a Platinum rating under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). This accomplishment highlights recent sustainability advancements these institutions have made, both on campus and in their respective communities. These institutions join five other STARS Platinum institutions: Colorado State University, Stanford University, Thompson Rivers University, University of California, Irvine, and University of New Hampshire. 

Below are some highlights provided by each new Platinum institution:

Arizona State University

  • ASU improved scores across a broad spectrum of credits by engaging with a wide array of stakeholders across the institution in collaborative efforts to improve sustainability performance.
  • ASU achieved climate neutrality for Scope 1 and 2 emissions six years early because of the need to act on the urgent nature of the climate crisis. This was achieved through a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon offsets while simultaneously continuing to rapidly grow the university.
  • ASU’s Foundation established a socially responsible investment fund that enables endowment donors to select this pool for their money rather than the traditional endowment pool. Investments will be in public and private companies with strong racial and gender equality, good governance and a focus on economic, social and environmental sustainability. While the traditional endowment pool includes these considerations, this separate portfolio has a more explicit mandate that allows for an even greater focus to invest in this way.
  • Learn more in Arizona State University’s recent news article.

Cornell University

  • The STARS report recognized Cornell for engaged learning opportunities, faculty sustainability research and providing students an opportunity for “living laboratory” projects such as Solarize, a collaboration between the student group Cornell University Sustainable Design and Cornell’s Grounds Department in Facilities and Campus Services. Over the past two years, the university supported nearly 80 student projects as part of its Living Laboratory initiative.
  • Currently, about 774 courses that feature sustainability are offered to undergraduate and graduate students, and more than 40 student organizations are devoted to sustainability.
  • Nearly 97% of all departments have faculty conducting sustainability research, about 98.9% of all academic departments offer sustainability courses and more than 500 faculty fellows participate in research via the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.
  • About 83% of students walked, cycled or used Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit buses as a primary way to reach campus.
  • The Swipe Out Hunger program by Cornell Dining and the Office of the Dean of Students was recognized for helping first-generation and low-income students stave off food insecurity.
  • Learn more in Cornell University’s recent news article.

Université de Sherbrooke

  • With its diverse programs and team of recognized specialists, the Centre universitaire de formation en environnement et en développement durable (Environment and Sustainable Development University Training Center) has created an interdisciplinary space for training, reflection and action for a more responsible society.
  • Several student groups contribute to on-campus sustainable development projects such as the Campus durable (Sustainable Campus), Ruche Campus (beekeeping initiative), and Jardin collectif (collective garden).  Different initiatives also go beyond the University’s walls, such as Hoola One, Free Go Frigo refrigerators and La Déraille cooperative.
  • Since the Kyoto Protocol, Université de Sherbrooke has reduced its GHG emissions by 30% despite a growth of more than 60% in its student population. The University adopted a strategy to become carbon neutral by 2030 and has the largest array of solar panels for applied research in Canada.
  • Its program to provide universal access to public transit for students is ongoing (started in 2004) and an incentive program to get employees to use public transit was introduced on all three campuses.
  • Learn more in Université de Sherbrooke’s recent news article.

University of Connecticut

  • UConn primarily attributes it’s rise to the Platinum level in 2020 to the addition of the Environmental Literacy General Education requirement—assuring that all UConn students graduate with at least a basic understanding of environmental issues. 
  • The expansion of the Quantum Biopower food waste recovery program in dining halls also helped earn innovation points and improved their score in the waste category.
  • New sustainability programs and initiatives implemented since the previous ratings include the expansion of the Recycling Bags program, which included a Sustainability Activity book for all first and second year students to learn more about sustainability as they first set foot on campus.
  • UConn also launched the Institute of the Environment in 2019 to facilitate the University’s portfolio of environmental research along with community-wide activities related to sustainability.
  • UConn is home to many experiential learning and living laboratory opportunities such as the UConn@COP program, UConn Climate Corps, and the Natural Resources and Conservation Academy, among others.
  • Learn more in University of Connecticut’s recent news article.