The University of Houston (UH) has announced its participation in a new program to encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The program, called the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
To date, nearly 230 higher education institutions have registered as STARS Charter Participants. UH recognizes the importance of unified, holistic criteria for university sustainability.
“Following the STARS guidelines were instrumental to the establishment of the University of Houston’s sustainability programs,” said Emily Messa, assistant vice president for university services and campus sustainability officer. “We didn’t have to spend a lot of time defining a road map to sustainability because everything was defined in STARS. We are able to build on our areas of strength like recycling and then take our time focusing on initiatives that require more of a community approach, such as developing and implementing sustainability policies.”
AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement.
“The advantage of STARS is that institutions can earn credits for all of their contributions to sustainability,” said Paul Rowland, AASHE executive director. “From providing sustainability coursework, to using green cleaning products, to energy efficiency in campus buildings, there are lots of opportunities for a school to identify and track its sustainability progress.”
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.
UH looks forward to participation from its students and staff and will be watching its sustainability efforts grow on campus through the STARS program Messa said. For more information about the University of Houston’s sustainable program, visit www.uh.edu/green
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a comprehensive national research institution serving the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. UH serves 38,000 students in the nation’s fourth-largest city, located in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.
For more information about the STARS program, visit www.aashe.org/stars .