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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

May 5, 2008 - 3:14pm

I've been remiss. Mea culpa. Well, maybe not all that culpa; I'll plead mitigating circumstances. The end of the academic year, spinning up to speed for summertime projects, finishing up Greenback's greenhouse gas inventory, setting the stage to hit hard in the fall with policy proposals, lots of stuff.

But what got lost in the wash was the fact that AASHE released a newer, and less preliminary, version of its STARS rating system. As a result, you get a chance to contribute to the criteria by which leading campus sustainability efforts will be scored.

STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) version 0.5 is both better explained and better balanced than its predecessor. A lot of the reason is that the purpose of the predecessor (version 0.4) and the version before that (the Guide for Pilot Phase One) was to provide a "straw man" to stimulate discussion. And discussion they have, indeed, stimulated. The new version notes, by use of blue text, the outcomes of a series of conference calls involving literally dozens of campuses which are participating in the aforementioned Pilot Phase One. What the pilot campuses are doing is to put the rating system through its paces, see what works well and what needs adjustment, before any institution actually gets scored and its results published to the world. (No, it's not intended to be a ranking, but that's like saying that two similar-model sailboats, on the same lake and the same tack, aren't intended to be racing. There's a race going on, even if it's only on one boat.)

Anyways, the recently published document has a lot of cooperative content in it. And the next version (yes, we're headed for 1.0, but it will be a while before we get there) will have even more. The conference calls were for pilot participants, of which there are 90-some. But, if you're involved in sustainability efforts on your campus, you should take a look and see if the evaluation criteria and points scales make sense to you. If not, tell the good folks at The public comment period officially extends through Friday. (Sorry for the short notice. My bad.) On the other hand, the cooperative refinement process will continue at least through the end of this year, and almost certainly beyond that. If you've been paying only marginal attention to STARS, you really should look at the latest version. If you haven't previously been aware of it, this is a good time to get into the game.


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