Eastern’s Sustainability Initiatives Recognized by National Organization

Sustainable CT stakeholders celebrate the soft launch of Sustainable CT in 2017 at Wickham Park, Manchester.:

 Eastern Connecticut State University has been highlighted for its sustainability efforts in the “2019 Sustainable Campus Index,” a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The index highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives at colleges and universities that submitted a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report in the most recent calendar year.

The university was recognized as a “Highlighted Institution” for the Sustainable CT program managed by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern, as well as for being among the highest scorers among universities in the “Food and Dining” sustainability category.

“We are pleased with this recognition of our progress on sustainability at Eastern, and we realize that we have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve our climate and sustainability goals,” said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and chair of Eastern’s Green Campus Committee. “We are inspired by the sustainability accomplishments of our peers and continue to learn from each other.”

In 2018, the Institute for Sustainable Energy launched Sustainable CT, a voluntary certification program to support and recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut communities. The program offers a menu of best practice actions in nine broad categories, including equity and inclusion, local economies, arts and culture, and environmental stewardship. More than half of Connecticut’s municipalities participate in Sustainable CT and 22 towns and cities earned certification in the program’s first year.

In the Food and Dining category, Eastern was recognized as a top performer among colleges and universities. Chartwells, Eastern’s food service provider, has introduced a number of environmentally conscious initiatives, including a tray-less dining room and donations of surplus food to the local food pantry.

A recent “Zero Waste” barbeque luncheon featured an environmental theme, which emphasized reusable, recyclable or compostable materials to minimize waste. The event enhanced Eastern’s Green Campus Initiative and communities beyond Willimantic as well. Waste from the luncheon was taken to Quantum BioPower in Southington, where it was processed and turned into electricity to power the Southington Town Hall and the Southington police and fire stations.

Over the past few years, the use of reusable “to-go” containers has allowed more than 70,000 paper containers of pre- and post-consumer waste in Hurley Dining Hall to be composted by Quantum BioPower, which has reduced university trash output by nearly 70 percent.

Chartwells Food Services has supported other sustainable food systems by making low impact dining options available, educating customers about more sustainable options, offering meatless dining, and instituting sustainable food and beverage practices.

“Eastern’s dedication to environmental stewardship is evidenced by a range of sustainability efforts seen daily on our campus,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “I am pleased that this green campus commitment has been recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). As AASHE notes, the Sustainable CT initiative coordinated by Eastern’s Institute for Sustainability is an important contribution that we are making to our state. In addition, we appreciate AASHE’s recognition of the work Chartwells Dining Services is doing on our campus and in our community to promote lower energy consumption and greater food security. Such recognitions are gratifying and motivate us to continue our efforts to be good environmental stewards.”

“We are happy to highlight Eastern Connecticut State University in this year’s Sustainable Campus Index,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We hope that the stories contained in this year’s report will provide inspiration and ideas for other institutions to promote a more equitable and ecologically healthy future.”

Eastern’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website: https://reports.aashe.org/institutions/eastern-connecticut-state-university-ct/report/

Written by Dwight Bachman

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About Eastern

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving 5,200 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 33 other states and 80 other countries. A residential campus offering 41 majors and 59 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked among the top 30 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2019 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded ‘Green Campus’ status by the Princeton Review nine years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

About STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community. The credits included in STARS span the breadth of higher education sustainability and are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. All reports are publicly accessible on the STARS website. For more information, visit stars.aashe.org.

About AASHE

AASHE empowers higher education faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. We work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit www.aashe.org.

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