For colleges and universities that want to establish a baseline on where they stand with sustainability, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has updated its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) framework.
STARS 2.0 is based on feedback from colleges about how to improve the self-reporting framework so it’s more relevant for their campuses. It will help measure the school’s sustainability performance and help it learn from other institutions of similar types and demographics. The updated version will also create a baseline for continuous improvement and foster cross-campus collaboration.
AASHE says STARS 2.0 will aid colleges in their efforts to garner support and buy-in from stakeholders for their sustainability efforts, and gain recognition for their sustainability milestones and creative solutions.
The main changes in STARS 2.0 address some key issues that the higher education community wanted to improve, including:
- Improved comparability of STARS data
- Move away from “all or nothing” credits, with revised credit structure
- Single tier of credits, down from nearly 140 to 70 credits
- Improved credit weighting and scoring
- Add and remove credits as needed
- Make it more widely applicable to institutions outside the US and Canada
- Increased technical rigor
- Achieving the middle ground between being comprehensive and being accessible to all institutions
- Improved accuracy
In February 2012, AASHE announced a single portal through which colleges can report their data to some of the biggest sustainability rankings in education. The fhe free Campus Sustainability Data Collector collects information for The Princeton Review Green Rating, Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools issue, and the Sustainable Endowment Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card. The tool is essentially a simplified version of AASHE’s STARS system. The data collector also includes some data points that the ranking organizations are interested in but that are not included in STARS.
But while the data collector is simply a place to upload sustainability data, the STARS reporting tool allows institutions to both share and track their data over time through data management software. STARS participation costs $900 for AASHE members and $1,400 for non-members.