Western becomes charter participant in nation’s first campus-wide sustainability program
Published on Monday, February 01, 2010
Western Technical College recently joined in the launch of a new national effort to encourage sustainability practices in all aspects of campus life. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) introduced STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) version 1.0 and formally launched its online Reporting Tool on January 19.
To date, over 115 higher education institutions have registered as STARS Charter Participants and Western Technical College is proud to be one of them. Western became a signatory of the American College and Presidents Climate Commitment in late 2007, and has been working hard on achieving many of the tangible items required in the commitment. The college has calculated its carbon footprint, several renewable energy projects in the works, LEED certified and sustainable buildings under construction, a new and improved recycling program, a sustainability website, free public transportation for students and staff, and is in the process of developing new “green” classes and programs.
“Western is striving to become a leader in sustainable efforts in our district. We hope to reduce our emissions and impact on the environment, while providing training opportunities for our students and community members with in-house renewable energy projects,” said Erica Black, Western’s Climate Commitment Projects Assistant.
AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves a comprehensive process of collecting and publicly reporting information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance in education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement.
“The advantage of STARS is that all aspects of campus life are taken into consideration with regard to the ability to earn credits,” said AASHE Executive Director, Paul Rowland. “From providing sustainability coursework, to dorm 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 US and Canada and the criterion that determines a STARS rating is 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 around the country.
“We are looking forward to increased participation and the expansion of our sustainability efforts on campus through the STARS program,” Black said.