College Earns Gold Rating in Sustainability

November 6, 2017

Communications Staff

Oberlin's solar array
The 2.27MW solar array is about the same size as Tappan Square.
Photo credit: Oberlin College file photo

Oberlin has been recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s STARS program.

The college 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, is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It is the leading tool to assess sustainability progress across a spectrum of indicators, from operations to academics to governance.

Oberlin College was a charter STARS participant in 2008-2009. For the college’s most recent submission, more than 150 people across campus contributed data over a multi-year process facilitated by the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES). Since Oberlin’s last STARS submission in 2012, Oberlin’s OES reports that the college installed a 2.27MW solar array on campus property; became a coal-free institution; and achieved nearly 100 percent renewable power supply. The campus has cut its emissions in half since its baseline year while striving to reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.

“As excited as I am about our rating, I am equally thrilled that so many people contributed to the report,” says Bridget Flynn, sustainability manager for OES. “That number reflects how widespread sustainability efforts are across campus, and also demonstrates extensive, successful collaboration for a common goal. From dining to admissions, student groups to the strategic plan, Oberlin College has taken incredible strides toward increasing the sustainability, equity, and viability of our institution.”

While gathering the data for Oberlin’s STARS report, Flynn says internal stakeholders were informed about possible program ideas and used STARS as a way to propel their progress. One such culmination included the Office of Environmental Sustainability and Committee on Environmental Sustainability working with the Office of the Registrar to label sustainability-related courses.

Data from the STARS program is used to compile AASHE’s annual Campus Sustainability Index, which recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 distinct aspects of sustainability. In the newly released 2017 report, Oberlin College ranks 6th in the Baccalaureate category.

Oberlin’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website. STARS data is used not only by AASHE to compile the Campus Sustainability Index, but by organizations such as U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review, and Sierra Club to create widely circulated annual rankings of schools’ sustainability efforts. Additionally, because STARS is publically available, institutions can more easily benchmark progress against one another.

More than 400 institutions have earned a STARS rating, making AASHE’s STARS program 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: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and 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. “Oberlin College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”


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