The STARS 2.0 Technical Manual (pdf) is the go-to guide for the STARS credits and is organized into four main categories (Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration), which are broken down into sub-categories where the individual STARS credits are located.
The STARS 2.0 Credit Checklist (pdf) provides a quick snapshot of the credits included in STARS. The data collected for each credit is documented in the online Reporting Tool, which is only available to STARS participants. Participants who registered under a previous version of STARS may upgrade to the current version at any time from within the Reporting Tool.
All previous versions of the Technical Manual are available, including detailed summaries of the changes made between each iteration.
Each STARS credit in the Technical Manual includes the following details:
STARS credits were initially developed in large part by reviewing campus sustainability assessments, sustainability reports from businesses, and other sustainability rating and ranking systems. The current version of STARS incorporates feedback and suggestions from hundreds of diverse stakeholders and experts. For more information see previous versions of the STARS Technical Manual and the Technical Development Policy.
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.
Credits vary in the number of points they are worth. Points were allocated by a panel of STARS Steering Committee members and AASHE staff using the following considerations:
As these questions indicate, the focus in allocating points is on the impact, not the difficulty, of earning each credit. Some sustainability initiatives may be very difficult to implement but yield negligible impacts. Conversely, some generally easier projects have significant impacts. Assigning points based on the difficulty of earning a credit would create a perverse incentive for institutions to focus on the difficult projects or initiatives, which may not have the most meaningful impact.