Staff Engagement & Training (3.0)

Credit Language

EN 3: Staff Engagement & Training – version 3.0


  • 3.1. Staff sustainability network or engagement program
  • 3.2. Sustainability-focused training for employees
  • 3.3. Percentage of employees that participate in sustainability activities

Questions & Answers

How has this credit changed between STARS Version 2 and Version 3?

  • Peer educator programs and other types of staff engagement programs have been consolidated into a single, less prescriptive indicator (3.1).
  • A new indicator (3.3) requires that the employee participation rate be estimated or measured.
  • A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the STARS 3.0 Summary of changes.

How do we determine if our staff networks or engagement programs qualify under Indicator 3.1?

An institution earns 2 points when it has at least one voluntary network or engagement program open to non-academic staff that is sustainability-focused (i.e., has a a primary and explicit focus on the integrated concept of sustainability or the interdependence of ecological and social/cultural/economic systems). Partial points are available. An institution that does not have a sustainability-focused staff network or engagement program, but does have at least one staff network or engagement program that is advancing ecological integrity or racial equity and social justice earns 1 point.

What types of training programs qualify under Indicator 3.2? 

  • To qualify, training opportunities must have a primary and explicit focus on the integrated concept of sustainability or the interdependence of ecological systems and social/cultural/economic systems.
  • A training opportunity may include any activity that develops an individual’s sustainability skills, knowledge, expertise, or other characteristics as an employee, e.g., formal coursework, participation in the activities of professional organizations, and/or training provided by the sustainability office.
  • Professional development and training primarily for academic staff are addressed in credits within the Curriculum and Research impact areas and do not qualify under this credit.

How does an institution go about assessing and estimating the percentage of students that participate annually in sustainability activities (Indicator 3.3)?

Participation may be evidenced by joining a sustainability network or organization, attending a sustainability-focused event or training, engaging in an activity sponsored by the sustainability office, or an equivalent action. Neither the passive consumption of information nor awareness of sustainability initiatives qualifies.

An institution may take one of three approaches in pursuing this indicator:

  • A. Survey or assessment results. Report the results of an institution-wide survey or sustainability culture assessment that includes one or more items on respondent awareness of the institution’s sustainability initiatives. 
  • B. Communications analytics. Report on the analytics associated with the sustainability-focused communications medium or platform that has the greatest reach (e.g., newsletter subscribers or social media group members). 
  • C. Conservative estimate based on mixed/limited data sources. Report on the most credible sources of data that are available, taking steps to minimize double-counting. For example, an institution may use the single best data source for students (e.g., membership in a student-focused social media group) and the single best data source for employees (e.g., staff newsletter subscribers) and/or adjust figures downward to account for the anticipated extent to which individuals may be counted more than once.

Suggestion(s) for Institutions

  • Design upcoming sustainability engagement programs and activities with assessment in mind to facilitate reporting under Indicator 3.3.

Potential Data Quality Issues

  • Indicator 3.1. Staff sustainability network or engagement – To earn full points, documentation must be provided affirming one or more sustainability-focused employee networks or programs (with a primary and explicit focus on the integrated concept of “sustainability” or the interdependence of ecological and social/cultural/economic systems). 
  • Indicator 3.2. Sustainability-focused staff training – Affirmative responses must be supported by information provided in descriptive fields.
  • Indicator 3.3. If claiming that 50% or more of employees participate annually in the institution’s sustainability activities, the descriptive response and documentation should affirm how a relatively high proportion of employees participated.

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