Eastern Receives High Sustainability Rating by AASHE

In recognition of its sustainability achievements, Eastern Connecticut State University has earned a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) measures and supports sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

More than 10 years ago, Eastern made a commitment to become a carbon neutral campus by the middle of the 21st century. Eastern has worked steadily to reduce its carbon footprint and integrate sustainability into university operations, with five “LEED” (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings; the state’s largest geothermal system; a Sustainable Energy Studies Program; and opportunities for on- and off-campus sustainability internships.

In recent years, Eastern and Chartwells Dining Services have taken strong action to promote sustainability practices in the university dining hall by buying local foods, removing trays from the dining hall to reduce food waste, replacing all disposable take-out containers with reusable containers, donating excess food to the Covenant Food Kitchen, and converting food waste to biofuel and compost.

“I am proud of Eastern’s sustainability progress and the many initiatives led by our staff, faculty and students to earn the Silver STARS rating,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “In addition to the recognition, STARS helps us assess where we are with our sustainability efforts, how we compare to our peers and where the next opportunities lie.”

With more than 800 participants in 30 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: 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. “Eastern has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver 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.

Eastern’s STARS report is available at https://reports.aashe.org/institutions/eastern-connecticut-state-university-ct/report/2018-12-31/. To learn more about sustainability at Eastern, visit www.easternct.edu/sustainability.

Written by Ed Osborn