Innovation A-D (2.2)

For details about this credit, including the criteria, reporting timeframe, applicability, scoring, and more, please review the appropriate catalog:

Data Accuracy Video

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.”

Can we claim the same Innovation in multiple reports?

  • Yes. One significant change with 2.2 is that Innovation credits may be claimed in multiple submissions as long as the criteria are still being met at the time of submission.

Example Responses

  • Central Community College – Establishing a pollinator garden is particularly exemplary for two-year institutions. Documentation includes a dedicated campus Pollinator webpage. 
  • Keene State College – Significant scope of impact – Significant emissions reduction initiative involving generating LR-100 fuel in a closed loop process.
  • North Seattle College – Establishing an inclusion advocacy program goes above and beyond the scope of the existing Support for Underrepresented Groups credit.
  • Stevens Institute of Technology – Good example of using technology to advance sustainability through development of engineered mulch.
  • Universidad de Monterrey – Development of a unique program. The institution turned a parking lot into a green area with native plants making the campus less car-centered, more walkable and more sustainable.
  • University of Pennsylvania – Addressing regional issues and multiple dimensions of sustainability through a program that distributes funds to nearby public schools for handling environmental hazards.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University – A Campus Free Store offers school and home supplies, free to any employee or student. Such a program is not already recognized under a standard credit. 
  • Western University – Leadership within higher education – Hosts an international challenge to encourage students to collaborate and create solutions to significant global issues, including those related to UN SDGs.

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Innovation credits are open-ended and reserved for innovative solutions to sustainability challenges and demonstrating sustainability leadership in ways that are not otherwise captured in STARS.

Did you find this article helpful?