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Eastern recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index

Published on November 11, 2020

Eastern recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index

Hurley Hall has gone tray less to reduce food waste.

Students enjoy lunch in the recently renovated dining section of Hurley Hall.

Eastern Connecticut State University has again been recognized as a top performer in the 2020 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving “Silver” STARS status for the second year in a row.  In addition, also for the second consecutive year, Eastern and its food services partner, Chartwells, placed eighth nationally in the Food and Dining category. Eastern’s top 10 ranking in the Dining and Food category was shared by prestigious institutions such as Columbia University, Smith College, the University of Washington and Antioch College.

A publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). 

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 have also taken strong action to promote sustainability practices in the university dining hall ranging from buying local foods to eliminating the use of trans fats. The dining hall has also gone tray less to reduce food waste and replaced 66,000 disposable take-out containers a year with reusable containers.  In addition, the “Warriors Food Recovery” program donates excess food to the local Covenant Food Kitchen, and the dining hall also converts food waste to biofuel and compost.

“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). 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.”

Other sustainability initiatives at Eastern range from academic programs that prepare students for the growing Green Economy to energy conservation and sustainability efforts on campus. The University recently updated its Climate Action Plan to promote a sustainability culture, achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, transition to 100 percent renewable energy and continue to integrate environmental stewardship into student learning. Campus sustainability efforts are led by the Green Campus Committee, which supports energy efficiencies, recycling programs, electric vehicle charging stations and other initiatives. Students can also live in Green Theme housing and participate in sustainability-related volunteer programs.

"Congratulations to Eastern Connecticut State University for their incredible work in creating a more sustainable world," said AASHE's Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. "Through the leadership and action of change agents at Eastern, I'm encouraged and hopeful that a just and equitable society will soon be realized."

Eastern’s STARS report is available at

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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


AASHE empowers higher education administrators, 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 Follow AASHE on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Ed Osborn