STARS 2.0 is the current version of STARS. 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 2.0. Data collected for each STARS credit is documented in the STARS Reporting Tool, which is only available to STARS Participants. STARS Participants registered under a previous version of STARS may upgrade to the current version.
Note: This the most current version of the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual and is different from the early release edition (published August 2013) and Administrative Update One (published October 2013). The revisions made between Administrative Update One and Administrative Update Two are summarized in this Record of Changes (pdf).
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.
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:
a. human and ecological health and mitigate negative environmental impacts?
b. secure livelihoods, a sustainable economy and other positive financial impacts?
c. social justice, equity, diversity, cooperation, democracy and other positive social impacts?
3. To what extent are the positive impacts associated with achievement of the credit not captured in other STARS credits?
As these questions indicate, the focus in allocating points was on the impact, not the difficulty, of earning the 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.
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.
Additionally, 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.
Lastly, to help ensure that the system works as intended, AASHE strived to ensure that each credit was objective, measurable, and actionable.