UO joins sustainability rating system as charter member

EUGENE, Ore. -- ( Sept. 16, 2010 ) - The University of Oregon has joined nearly 230 other colleges in the U.S. and Canada as charter members of a program that will encourage sustainability in higher education through comparative ratings.

The Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), a nonprofit association of colleges and universities.

"Sustainability is reshaping higher education in profound ways," said Steve Mital, the UO's director for sustainability. "The STARS program allows us to document our transformation and compare it to peer institutions around the nation. The report will provide faculty, staff and students critical information to discuss our performance and provide feedback."

Nationally-recognized programs in green design, chemistry and law are examples of the UO's commitment to sustainability. Mital said widespread participation in recycling and alternative transportation programs indicate a strong environmental commitment among the university's faculty, staff and students. The UO has taken a lead position as all seven public universities in the Oregon University System joined the STARS program - making it the only statewide system in the nation whose member institutions have all joined the reporting system.

The STARS program requires member universities to self-report comprehensive information related to sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three primary areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement. The resulting ratings are valid for three years, and can be updated as often as once per year.

"The advantage of STARS is that institutions can earn credits for all of their contributions to sustainability," said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. "From providing sustainability coursework, to using green 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, the STARS program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada. Because the program is based on credits earned, it allows for internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

"We are looking forward to the enthusiastic participation from our students and staff, as well as watching our sustainability efforts grow on campus through the STARS program," said Art Farley, chair of the UO's Environmental Issues Committee.

Contact: Steve Mital, UO director for sustainability, 541-346-0709, smital@uoregon.edu

Media Contact: Joe Mosley, UO media relations, 541-346-3606, jmosley@uoregon.edu

Links: AASHE, at www.aashe.org; STARS program, at www.aashe.org/stars