UF Gets Silver Rank in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System
UF regularly engages in the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) framework to benchmark and improve sustainability progress across campus. Scoring is based on an institution’s overall percentage of points earned through the credit system. Senior Program Coordinator for the UF Office of Sustainability, Liz Storn, shares, ”We are pleased with our silver level rating because it demonstrates the hard work that we have been doing. We strive to reach the gold level rating, which will require dedication across campus to improve scores.” The most recent UF STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website, and a STARS executive summary has recently been published.
With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, STARS is a comprehensive sustainability rating system for colleges and universities that addresses the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability efforts. Primary evaluation categories include Academics (AC), Engagement (ER), Operations (OP), and Planning/Administration (PA). These wide-reaching categories encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education, a goal that UF’s sustainability framework is designed to support. The STARS rating system also features additional credits for Innovation (IN). Through these credits, UF has the opportunity to showcase its continued innovative work on sustainability.
UF Innovation Shines Bright With STARS
The Innovation credits recognize institutions that are seeking innovative solutions to sustainability challenges and demonstrating leadership in ways that are not otherwise captured in STARS. UF is proud to have earned the maximum number of additional innovation and leadership credits in the 2020 certification process (based on data from Fiscal Year 17-18) for a combination of new projects and initiatives.
UF’s Innovation highlights include:
- Cypress Hall Residence Hall for students with significant mobility impairments
- Center for Public Interest Communications, the first center in the U.S. dedicated to developing and applying the science of strategic communication to drive social change
- Neutral UF Coalition to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the university
- Bicycle Friendly University Certification in recognition of the promotion of safe, accessible biking on campus
These innovative projects are only a small sample of the many initiatives towards sustainability goals that are underway in the UF community.
Future Frameworks for Sustainability & Climate Action
STARS recognition levels are valid for 3 years, making it a high priority of sustainability changemakers at UF to advance in the ratings and earn more points with each new submission.
Due to the ongoing update of the UF climate action plan (CAP), there is plenty of momentum in this area. The UF CAP 2.0 is focused on developing a shared strategic framework for reducing and mitigating UF’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) in order to reach carbon neutrality, as well as supporting the university’s academic mission and improving the university’s resilience to future challenges related to climate change impacts
Led by the Office of Sustainability, the CAP 2.0 process involves six Working Groups made up of stakeholders from across the university on topics including energy, academics, resilience, offsets and transportation. This broad and collaborative approach creates ample space for creative, future-focused solutions that strengthen UF’s efforts to improve upon its sustainability goals and scores across an array of STARS credit areas.
UF’s approach to sustainability is designed to support comprehensive frameworks, as is evident through STARS and CAP. The university is able to have impact far beyond rating systems and bolster future climate action and sustainability planning for innovative leadership in Higher Ed.
Learn more about the UF Climate Action Plan 2.0 process
The UF Office of Sustainability provides additional information, regular updates and ways to be engaged on their website: https://sustainable.ufl.edu/campus-initiatives/uf-climate-action/
About the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (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. For more information, visit www.aashe.org.