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

Technical Manual

The STARS Technical Manual is the definitive guide to STARS credits and reporting criteria. The data collected for each credit is documented in the online Reporting Tool

Forthcoming Version: STARS 2.1

STARS 2.1 Technical Manual cover

STARS 2.1 Technical Manual | Published January 2016

Download as a single PDF document. The new version will be launched in the online Reporting Tool later this spring after The Princeton Review and Sierra magazine deadlines have passed. Current participants will have a full year from launch to either report under version 2.0 or upgrade to the new version.

Credit Checklist - a quick snapshot of the credits included in version 2.1.

Summary of Substantive Changes | Tracked Changes Draft

Exemplary Practice Credit Catalog. Exemplary Practice credits are new for STARS 2.1. They are optional and earn "bonus points" that are added to an institution's overall STARS score.

Current Version: STARS 2.0

STARS 2.0 Technical ManualSTARS 2.0 Technical Manual | Administrative Update Two | Published January 2014  
Download as a single PDF document or access a specific section or credit:

Introductory Materials.

Credit Checklist (PDF | xls) - a quick snapshot of the credits included in STARS.

Institutional Characteristics - required information about the context in which an institution operates.

Standards & Terms (online version | PDF) - all underlined text in the Technical Manual is defined here.

Credits. See table below or download a zipped file containing all credits.















Campus Engagement

Public Engagement

Air & Climate


Dining Services







Coordination, Planning & Governance

Diversity & Affordability

Health, Wellbeing & Work




* credit does not apply to all institutions 

Previous Versions

Previous versions of the Technical Manual are available, including detailed summaries of the changes made between each iteration. Participants who registered under a previous version of STARS may upgrade to the current version at any time from within the online Reporting Tool.

Credit Development

The current version of STARS incorporates feedback and suggestions from hundreds of diverse stakeholders and experts (see the Technical Development Policy and archived versions of the Technical Manual). 

The STARS governance structure collectively strives to ensure that each credit is objective, measurable, and actionable. STARS is designed to incorporate the full spectrum of sustainability achievement, and upper levels of achievement represent highly ambitious, long-term goals. Therefore there are some credits for which few, if any, institutions will achieve full points currently. 

Given the diversity of higher education institutions, each STARS credit should be appropriate for most institution types. In order to accommodate this diversity, some STARS credits do not include detailed specifications but are instead flexible or open. In other cases, credits include an applicability criterion, so that the credits only apply to certain types of institutions. By following this approach, institutions are not penalized when they do not earn credits that they could not possibly earn due to their circumstances.