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CSU, Chico News

University Earns ‘Gold’ in Higher Education Sustainability Assessment

Date: 12-19-2013

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Fletcher Alexander, Sustainability Coordinator
Institute for Sustainable Development

Cementing its reputation as a leader in sustainability, California State University, Chico has received a “gold” rating in a comprehensive review by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Established in 2006, AASHE aims to improve sustainability across all sectors of higher education. The association’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a self-reporting, comprehensive framework allowing colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance and create a baseline for improvement. In its recent report, submitted Nov. 19, CSU, Chico scored a total of 67.26 points; the threshold to earn a gold rating is 65. Other levels of achievement include platinum at 85 points; silver at 45, and bronze at 25. Just 53 campuses have achieved gold status since the STARS program launch in 2010.

The framework examines nearly every area within the sphere of a college or university, including academic curriculum, buildings and grounds, public engagement and human impact, to name a few, making it one of the most comprehensive sustainability rating systems available. Campuses are scored in four main categories: Education and Research; Operations; Planning, Administration and Engagement; and Innovation. CSU, Chico received the best score possible, a total of 18 points, in the subcategory Co-Curricular Education.

Fletcher Alexander, sustainability coordinator for the University’s Institute for Sustainable Development, said the report is the most comprehensive and extensive sustainability analysis the school has ever undergone.

“This represents the first completed campuswide assessment of sustainability programs, policies and practices in the University’s history,” he said. “The report is the culmination of years of cross-campus collaborative efforts by students, faculty, staff and administration. We are extremely proud of this achievement.”

A charter member of AASHE, CSU, Chico participated as a pilot campus as the STARS program developed in 2010. A diverse team of individuals across campus participated in data collection and analysis, and the resulting report provides a baseline to measure future successes and improvements.

AASHE Senior Programs Coordinator Jillian Buckholz served as CSU, Chico’s sustainability coordinator early in STARS’ development. She said the campus’s recent gold rating marks a significant achievement for the University.

“As an alum and former sustainability officer for Chico State, and current AASHE staff member, this announcement is exciting for me on so many levels,” Buckholz said. “STARS Gold is quite an achievement. Besides discovering a campus’s strengths, it exposes areas primed for improvement. I applaud the work of those involved, and I hope the campus takes the time to celebrate and spread the word about its accomplishment.”

CSU, Chico has a long record of commitment to balancing individual, social, cultural, economic and educational needs with the natural environment. In 2006, President Paul Zingg established sustainability as a priority in the Campus Strategic Plan, and in 2007, he was a founding signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which outlines steps toward climate neutrality. Among other events, the University hosts the annual This Way to Sustainability, the nation’s largest student-run conference, which gathers people from around the state to explore ideas for achieving a sustainable future. In addition, the Associated Students, a university auxiliary, has committed to being Zero Waste by 2015 and manages an extensive campus recycling and sustainability program.

The University is one of just 21 schools in the United States and Canada named to the Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Honor Roll. Both Yahoo! News and The Daily Green have also recognized the University as one of the “greenest” campuses in America.

CSU, Chico’s STARS report may be viewed here: https://stars.aashe.org/institutions/california-state-university-chico-ca/report/2013-11-19/. For more information on the Institute for Sustainable Development, visit www.csuchico.edu/sustainablefuture.