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Eastern receives STARS Silver rating for sustainability achievements

Published on December 21, 2021

Eastern receives STARS Silver rating for sustainability achievements

Green campus
Eastern's main quad bustles as students walk to class during the fall 2021 semester. 

Eastern Connecticut State University has earned a STARS Silver 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 — measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

“I am proud of Eastern’s sustainability leadership and accomplishments,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. Under her leadership, the University has revised its Climate Action Plan and pledged to become carbon neutral and improve climate resilience through participation in the University Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment run by Second Nature.

“While there is much work ahead, we have made good progress and will continue to increase the integration of sustainability into our curriculum, enhance campus and community engagement, and improve efficiencies and carbon-free initiatives in our operations.”

An institution’s STARS score is based on sustainability initiatives in five categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning and Administration, and Innovation and Leadership.

Eastern received high scores in the Academics category for offering 102 sustainability-inclusive courses — 10 percent of the University’s total course offerings. Additionally, 20 percent of faculty research projects from academic departments across the University concern a sustainability topic.   

In the Engagement category, Eastern has recognized for highlighting sustainability in student orientation programs as well as for participating in a multi-year grant from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation that brought kelp and underutilized fish to the University’s food service offerings.

In the Operations category, Eastern received high marks for its recycling and composting programs, in which 359.5 tons and 26 tons, respectively, of waste was diverted from landfills and incinerators. Eastern also scored high for reducing water consumption by using low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets.

In the Planning and Administration category, Eastern was rated highly for its revised Climate Action Plan, which lays out a pathway to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Eastern also scored well for its participation in employee satisfaction surveys that enable employees to provide anonymous feedback.

In the Innovation and Leadership category, Eastern was recognized for its on-campus food bank for food insecure students, an affordable textbook program, equity/diversity recognition and more.

To see Eastern’s full STARS report, visit

With more than 900 participants in 40 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.

“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.


AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation.  It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit For more information about the STARS program, visit

Written by Michael Rouleau