NYU, Six Others Earn Gold for School Sustainability
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System incorporates public reporting of comprehensive information related to a university's performance.
New York University is among seven institutions of higher learning that recently received a Gold Rating for its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a new program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The other gold rated schools are American University; Duke University; Middlebury College; Oregon State University; University of Colorado, Boulder; and University of South Florida.
NYU has been involved in STARS since the system was first proposed, having carried out internal institution-wide environmental assessment efforts since 2005. The university participated in the pilot program after becoming a charter and leadership circle member, launching a NYU Sustainability Task Force, and setting in motion a host of green initiatives on campus including:
- Producing a comprehensive Climate Action Plan, with the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040;
- Renovating the cogeneration power plant: The new cogen plant produces twice the power and reduces greenhouse gas emission by 23 percent, in addition to avoiding the combustion of 500,000 gallons of fuel oil and 280,000 therms of natural gas per year;
- Instituting a campus-wide mixed recycling program and enhancing its e-waste technoscrap program;
- Striving for local, organic, and Fair Trade certifications for food served in dining halls and catered events, with nearly one-third of all expenditures on food sourced within 250 miles; and
- Implementing the NYU Bike Share Program, the first free bicycle-sharing program in New York City.
NYU helped to draft the "Open Letter to Sustainability Evaluating Organizations," which established clear expectations from the higher education community for rating systems' quality and fairness going forward. More than 75 institutions have since signed the letter.
AASHE’s STARS program involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration, and engagement.
NYU's received the highest score in the Operations area of any rated institution to date.
"We're pleased to be recognized for the strong effort we've put in to reduce NYU's environmental footprint, including cutting NYU's greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent over a four-year period," said Cecil Scheib, director of Energy and Sustainability. "We look forward to improving our rating in the future as we not just reduce our impact, but also set and achieve environmental performance goals."
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada, 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.
Founded in 1831, New York University is the largest private university in the United States. Composed of 14 schools, colleges, and divisions, it occupies five major centers in Manhattan. It operates branch campus and research programs in other parts of the United States and abroad, as well as study abroad programs in more than 25 countries. New York University is also one of the largest employers in New York City, with more than 16,000 employees.