This is an optional Innovation & Leadership credit. These credits recognize exemplary practices and performance above and beyond what is recognized in standard credits and may not be relevant to every institution. Scoring in the Innovation and Leadership section is capped at 4 bonus points total.
IN 11: External Reporting Assurance
Frequently Asked Questions
How is this credit different from PA 4: Reporting Assurance?
This credit recognizes reporting assurance, as required under PA 4: Reporting Assurance, with one difference: This credit recognizes institutions that engage EXTERNAL reviewers for the comprehensive review (e.g., peer reviewers or third-party contractors).
For basic guidelines on conducting reporting assurance, see also the PA 4 Help Center credit article.
How can I find an independent reviewer for my institution’s STARS report?
Independent review is a process by which an individual who is not affiliated with the institution reviews and provides assurance for the institution’s STARS report. There is no formal process for finding a reviewer, but here are some suggestions:
- Ask a colleague directly – Consider contacts you’ve made by attending professional conferences and participating in regional or topical sustainability networks.
- Post a request on the STARS Community or a relevant email list – Include the desired timeframe for the review and any other information you think might be relevant for prospective peer reviewers.
- Recruit student reviewers – Connect with faculty or sustainability staff to identify students with an interest or experience with STARS.
- Hire a third-party assurance provider – The following AASHE member organizations offer third-party external review of STARS reports for a fee:
Please contact us at email@example.com if you know of other organizations that offer this service.
Resources, Templates & Tools
STARS Review Template
NEW: Reviewer Sandbox
The Reviewer Sandbox serves as a guide for reviewers filling out review templates. It follows the latest version of the STARS review template and provides example notations for common issues.
- Boise State University – Good reporting example of a peer review conducted by sustainability staff at another institution (two reviewers from California State University, Stanislaus). See also PA 4 response.
- University of Tasmania – Concise response reflecting a peer review from another ACTS institution. Good reporting example for other institutions that are part of regional networks. See also PA 4 response.
- University of Wisconsin-River Falls – Response included review template filled out by an external reviewer, with comments. There were multiple internal and external reviewers, and all credits were reviewed by at least 2 people and at least one external reviewer. See also PA 4 response.
Common Issues Identified During Review
- To count as an exemplary practice, the institution must have had a finalized version of its current STARS submission reviewed by an independent party, and must have addressed any inconsistencies identified by the reviewer(s) prior to submission. Check for documentation to back this up.