Innovation A-D

For details about this credit, including the criteria, reporting timeframe, applicability, scoring, and more, please review the full credit language.

Frequently Asked Questions

What counts as an Innovation?

Innovation credits are open-ended and reserved for new, extraordinary, unique, groundbreaking, or uncommon outcomes, policies, and practices that address sustainability challenges and are not covered by an existing credit or exemplary practice option.

Can we count an Innovation that is in the process of being planned?

No, the innovative practice or program has to be something that the institution has already implemented; planned activities do not count.

Can we claim something as an Innovation that happened in the past?

Yes, the innovative practice, policy, program, or outcome must be ongoing or have occurred within the three years prior to the anticipated date of submission.

Can we count an award as an Innovation?

It depends. While the practices that led to receiving an award may be appropriate for an innovation credit, winning awards and/or high sustainability rankings in other assessments is not, in and of itself, grounds for an innovation credit. If claiming an award as an Innovation, ensure that the descriptive response highlights the initiatives and sustainable impacts that led to receiving the award.

Can we claim something as an Innovation that was reported under another STARS credit?

It depends. Typically, in order to claim something as an Innovation, the initiative must not already be covered in an existing STARS credit. If claiming something that is mentioned under another credit, please clarify how the initiative goes above and beyond the credit criteria and how it addresses sustainability challenges.

Note: The Technical Manual also states that “Multiple activities or practices whose sum is innovative can be considered for an innovation credit as long as those activities or practices are related.”

Templates & Tools

Example Responses

  • California State University, Monterey Bay – Leadership within Higher Education – First campus registered for the Living Community Challenge.
  • College of the Atlantic – Going above and beyond the scope of an existing credit – International partnership and immersive education program that goes beyond Community Partnerships and Immersive Experience credits.
  • Hampshire College – Significant scope of impact – Recent solar photovoltaic arrays are generating 100% of electricity on-site.
  • Johnson County Community College – Unique and appropriate for institution type – Green Salon certification effort is a great example of an innovation that is is relevant to two-year institutions.
  • Portland State University – Addressing regional issues and multiple dimensions of sustainability – Accessory Dwelling Units initiative is a unique effort to address rising housing costs in the community and reduce air pollution from driving.
  • Sheridan College (Ontario) – Use of technology to advance sustainability – Development and launch of new sustainability dashboard can be used as a performance and engagement tool.
  • University College Cork – National University of Ireland, Cork – Programs not recognized elsewhere in STARS – Highlights a unique sanctuary status diversity program that has never been recognized in STARS before.
  • University of Manitoba – Development of a unique program – BEE / HOUSE/ LAB international design competition.

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Innovation credits are open-ended and reserved for new, extraordinary, unique, groundbreaking, or uncommon outcomes, policies, and practices that address sustainability challenges and are not covered by an existing credit or exemplary practice option.
  • The topic outlined in the innovation credit must focus on sustainability, and/or addresses sustainability challenges. The innovation topic should address all dimensions of sustainability (social, environmental, economic).  
  • The innovative practice, policy, program, or outcome must be ongoing or have occurred within the three years prior to the anticipated date of submission.
  • The innovative practice or program has to be something that the institution has already implemented; planned activities do not count.
  • While the practices that led to receiving an award may be appropriate for an innovation credit, winning awards and/or high sustainability rankings in other assessments is not, in and of itself, grounds for an innovation credit.
  • When the innovation is part of a partnership, the summary provided must clearly describe the institution’s role in the innovation.
  • Ensure that innovative initiatives are not already covered in an existing STARS credit. Community Partnerships are commonly referenced for IN, so they must demonstrate that the initiative goes above and beyond the Community Partnerships credit.

Additional Resources

How can we improve our performance on this credit?

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