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U recognized for sustainability achievements

The University of Utah has earned a STARS Gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

The University of Utah’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

For over a decade, the University of Utah has used STARS to measure and improve sustainability across campus. In 2011, the Sustainability Office submitted the U’s first STARS report which earned the institution a Bronze rating. Since then, the U has completed three additional STARS reports and continuously improved its score each time. This round, the U earned its highest score ever and improved performance in 10 of 17 categories.

STARS also helps benchmark sustainability efforts in relation to peer institutions. With the new score, the University of Utah moved from 47th among Association of American Universities institutions to 21st, and it remains the only institution in Utah to have earned a Gold rating. The U performed particularly well in some key academic and operational categories, achieving high scores for integrating sustainability into curriculum and research, and earning all available points for water conservation efforts.

“STARS not only helps us celebrate our sustainability successes, but it is also a useful tool for identifying areas for future attention. For example, the Sustainability Office will increase opportunities for students and employees to get involved in sustainability efforts as we look to boost our score in the Campus Engagement category over the next three years,” said Kerry Case, chief sustainability officer.

With more than 900 participants in 40 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. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “The University of Utah has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

“I am profoundly grateful to all of the staff, faculty and students who have made this achievement possible,” said Taylor Randall, president of the University of Utah. “A ton of dedication and work goes into gathering all of the information needed for a STARS submission, and it takes even more work to accomplish the things that earn us a gold rating. We welcome the ongoing challenge presented by STARS to improve the U’s sustainability performance as we pursue excellence in education, research, service and patient care.”