The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System allows institutions of higher education to earn ratings based on self-reported sustainability efforts and innovations.
Texas Tech University has earned a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) Bronze rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS is a self-reporting tool that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
“This represents a lot of work by a lot of people, all over this campus,” said Carey Hewett, director of services in the Texas Tech Operations Division and campus sustainability officer. “Our responsibility in the Operations Division is to report all of these efforts so Texas Tech may receive recognition for its ongoing commitment to sustainability.”
From recycling efforts led by University Student Housing and Hospitality Services and xeriscaping by Grounds Maintenance to the creation and upkeep of bike lanes and bus routes in Transportation & Parking and various initiatives in academic departments, Hewett said every department and division on campus contributes in some way to sustainability efforts. Research in areas like the Climate Science Center and the National Wind Institute also helps build up a sustainable footprint, he said.
“Many across campus are dedicated to organizing and making continuous improvements in Texas Tech's sustainability and outreach efforts,” said Noel Sloan, Texas Tech chief financial officer and vice president for administration and finance. “The STARS rating reflects the advancement our campus strives to achieve.”
Institutions of higher education who participate in STARS can do so as a reporter without receiving a rating, or as a rated institution based on their sustainability achievements. Achievements are reported in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation and leadership. Available ratings are bronze (25 points), silver (45 points), gold (65 points) and platinum (85 points).
Texas Tech has been a STARS reporter university for several years, but this is the first time all steps of the self-reporting process necessary for a rating were completed. Since the university began participating, there have been several changes in the way campus sustainability is approached.
“The AASHE STARS report allows us a method to measure our successes and a process
for us to set goals and look for other opportunities to continue improving,” Hewett
said. “We've become more organized through the years. Our task now is to look for
our next opportunities and work with even more departments to continue identifying
efforts that may contribute to sustainability, and to look for new sustainable opportunities
and innovations on campus.”
Hewett said while sustainability is important in general, there also are some specific ways these efforts benefit all Red Raiders.
“Sustainability on campus is the right thing to do. It's important that we set an example for the students, faculty and staff who have chosen to work and study at Texas Tech University,” Hewett said. “This is a learning environment, and how the university conducts business sets great examples and provides great learning opportunities for our students. Those students will go on to have an impact worldwide.”
Texas Tech's STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities 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.
With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE's STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance.
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, the program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. The program also allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.
For more information about AASHE, visit the website.