UC Merced has proven to be the gold standard of sustainability in higher education and once again, has received a gold star.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recently awarded UC Merced a STARS Gold rating for its sustainability efforts. STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System — measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
The STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting a comprehensive look at higher education institutions’ sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five areas — academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. The program is open to all institutions of higher education and uses a scoring system based on credits earned.
The university earned 83.85 points under the STARS criteria, an impressive leap from the 66 points UC Merced achieved in 2016. A score of 85 points results in a platinum rating — an assessment only six institutions have achieved — and AASHE’s STARS program includes more than 800 participants in 30 countries. The rating process is typically a three-year cycle to provide institutions the opportunity to expand and develop programs.
“We are very proud of the progress that has been made by our institution — it takes the entire campus to achieve this rating level and scoring,” said Breeana Sylvas, assistant director of Sustainability. “We are pleased with the progress made but there is much to be done to continue to sustain and build on existing programs and opportunities to demonstrate our continued leadership.”
The STARS Gold rating and push for platinum come at a time when the university is experiencing tremendous growth. The Sustainability Department said the campus has kept pace during this time of expansion because of the momentum of UC Merced’s many sustainability initiatives.
“I am encouraged to see the level of accomplishment from our institution as we continue to make strides to advance sustainable practices on our campus,” interim Director of Sustainability Mark Maxwell said. “We will continue to work and promote sustainable outcomes as we strive toward a platinum certification.”
The campus’s 2018 annual sustainability report is available online.