Extension Viewpoints: CSU earns STARS Platinum sustainability rating


By Robin Young
and Joe Giordano
PREVIEW Columnist
Colorado State University (CSU) is building upon its global reputation as an innovative leader in sustainability by becoming the only institution in the world to earn three Platinum ratings from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
In 2015, CSU was the first university in the world to earn a Platinum Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) rating. The historic results were repeated in 2017 when CSU went Platinum for a second time. AASHE awarded CSU a Platinum rating for a record third time under its STARS program, an independent program that measures comprehensive sustainability efforts at 990 universities around the world.
CSU earned the best score in the United States at 88.14 points, joining Stanford University; Thompson Rivers University in Canada; University of New Hampshire, and the University of California, Irvine as the only institutions ever to receive Platinum ratings. CSU’s score was 2.58 points higher than its previous score in 2017.
“To earn a third platinum rating with the best STARS score in the U.S. is incredible recognition of all the work done by the faculty, staff and students of Colorado State University. Sustainability is a true community effort, and we at CSU take sustainability as a point of pride in everything we do,” said CSU President Joyce McConnell. “I want to thank everyone at Colorado State who had a hand in helping our institution reach this impressive benchmark, and I also ask that everyone keep working. Sustainability is not a plateau where we can say ‘we’ve done enough.’ There are areas where we can improve and become an even more sustainable place to learn and discover.”
Since 2017, the university has added more than 335,000 square feet of new LEED Platinum- or Gold-certified classrooms, research space and offices. The League of American Bicyclists also recertified the institution as a Platinum-level community in 2019.
CSU also created the Ram Food Recovery Program to redistribute food items, when deemed safe, to the campus community to address both food insecurity and waste.
One student idea resulted in the creation of several student-managed apiaries on campus as well as pollinator-friendly gardens, which led to CSU’s certification from Bee Campus USA in 2018.
“Our faculty, staff and students continue to probe sustainability issues in diverse fields,” McConnell said. “We uncover new challenges every day. And like other STARS-reporting intuitions, we are passionately committed to addressing those challenges, solving the problems they bring, developing solutions and generating new ideas that will offer all of us hope moving forward.”
STARS measures more than 1,000 individual data points across four comprehensive categories: Academics and Research, Engagement, Operations and Planning and Administration. Based on the score received, institutions are awarded a rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
CSU has made major sustainability strides since the last STARS round. There are now 18 solar PV installations that are generating over 10 million kWh/year of electricity across campus.
With faculty, nearly 50 percent of all tenure and tenure-track faculty conducting research are actively engaged in sustainability research. Eighty percent of all campus academic departments have at least one faculty or staff member conducting suitability research.
CSU also continues to make progress toward its commitment to use 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. In 2019, Facilities Management and Housing and Dining Services respectively offset 20 percent and 100 percent of their electricity use, bringing the campus total to 13.5 percent.
“This STARS report reflects a deep commitment to sustainability at all levels of the university including student activism, learning outcomes in the classroom, cutting-edge research in laboratories, service learning in the community, and outreach across the state of Colorado,” said Tonie Miyamoto, co-chair for the President’s Sustainability Commission and director of communications and sustainability for Housing and Dining Services. “Every college and division contributed to this achievement.”
Learn more about CSU’s commitment to sustainability at green.colostate.edu.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.