Group Seeks Comment on Sustainability Rating System

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has released version 0.5 of its rating system for sustainability in higher education, called STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System). This release opens a public comment period that will last until May 9, 2008.

"We encourage feedback from the entire higher education community as we continue to refine the system," said Judy Walton, AASHE's acting executive director. "This latest version of STARS is significantly improved over the version we released in September thanks to the input we received."

Given the rapid growth of sustainability initiatives at institutions of higher education in North America, measuring and assessing progress toward sustainability goals has become increasingly important. STARS is designed to:

• Help gauge the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors, from governance and operations to academics and community engagement.

• Enable meaningful comparisons across institutions as well as benchmarking within institutions.

• Create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability.

• Facilitate information sharing about sustainability practices and performance in higher education

• Build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.

While many institutions have undertaken sustainability assessments and while a variety of assessment tools are available, there is no system that translates a wide range of sustainability indicators into a single metric that enables both institutional benchmarking and easy comparison across a large number of campuses in terms of overall level of achievement.

More than 90 colleges and universities are pilot testing STARS. They will provide feedback to AASHE throughout 2008 and inform the development of STARS version 1.0, planned for release in spring 2009.

For information a copy of the new version, visit www.aashe.org/stars.

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