The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has recognized the University of Virginia as one of the highest performers in the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS, which is a subsection of AASHE has additionally acknowledged UVa with a gold seal. This recognition is a very important achievement for the University and President Teresa A. Sullivan has expressed the significance of sustainability at UVa in her letter to the AASHE STARS Steering Committee.
“I am pleased to endorse our submission to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System(STARS),” Sullivan said. “Advancing sustainability in higher education is, like many other activities, a process of continual improvement. The STARS framework offers an effective tool to measure and report on progress toward our goals.”
UVa received poor scores from STARS in the Operations sector, specifically in Air & Climate and in Energy, earning a combined score of 5.39/21. However, President Sullivan says that these areas have been put under great focus.
“The past three years since our first STARS submission have seen the University complete numerous actions to advance sustainability, including the Board of Visitor’s approval of a nitrogen reduction goal… and committees dedicated to supporting the advancement of sustainability on Grounds; and the launch of our innovative Ubike bicycle share system.”
Another aspect of sustainability measured by STARS is Diversity & Affordability, a section which UVa has impressively excelled in. UVa earned a combined score of 9.65/10 which is a testament to UVa’s progress in sustainability. In UVa’s assessment of Diversity & Affordability, the University conducted a number of surveys that lead to noteworthy results.
“Survey results showed that students’ abilities to work with people from other cultures increased from 4.17 when they arrived at UVA to 4.77 at the time of the survey (on 6 point scale). Similarly, survey results showed that students’ comfort working with people from other cultures increased from 4.34 to 4.90.”
While UVa still has room for improvement, the University has made great progress. The continued efforts have cemented UVa as one of the top higher learning institutions in the country for sustainability.