University of Alberta recognized with silver STARS

On Friday, February 3, 2012, the University of Alberta was recognized with a silver rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS™), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS™ is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Participating institutions assess their sustainable practices in the areas of education and research; operations; planning, administration and engagement; and innovation.

More than 150 post-secondary institutions across North America have taken part in the STARS™ program, which ranks participants with a Reporter, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating.

The University of Alberta’s score places it second among the 14 Canadian institutions who have received recognition from STARS™ — behind the University of British Columbia and ahead of Royal Roads University, the University of Ottawa, and Dalhousie University.

UAlberta also achieved the highest rating across all Canadian institutions in the category of Planning, Administration and Engagement, while also receiving the maximum number available innovation credits for the Green & Gold Community Garden, The Waste Experiential Learning project; The Deliberation on Campus Sustainability project; and Augustana faculty’s new curriculum.

Office of Sustainability director Trina Innes said one of the University of Alberta’s key aims is to share sustainability successes and to use the information gathered during STARS™ to both benchmark and improve our performance.

“This rating demonstrates the progress staff, faculty and students have achieved in sustainability at the University of Alberta and reinforces our status as a leader. The process of preparing our submission also gave us an opportunity to identify strategies to enhance our performance which were included in our sustainability plan,” Innes said.

“Our next STARS ™submission will occur in a year or two and we anticipate improving our silver rating. Programs underway include a new energy management program, sustainability literacy assessment, greenhouse gas inventory, and certification of new buildings under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System®,” Innes explained.

The Office of Sustainability facilitated the collection of information for STARS™ between May and December 2011. Many individuals from across the institution provided support by supplying and verified the content included in report.

The AASHE was founded in 2005 to help coordinate and strengthen campus sustainability efforts, and to serve as the first North American professional association for those interested in advancing campus sustainability.

To view the University of Alberta’s submission, click here

Innovation credits received:

  • The Green & Gold Community Garden is a two-acre, pesticide and fertilizer-free garden that is a partnership between the School of Public Health, and the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences. The garden raises funds for a non-profit organization that supports socially and economically marginalized women in Rwanda.
  • The Waste Experiential Learning project is a project of the university's Department of Facilities and Operations, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence. It identifies hands-on/practical ideas for improving operational efficiencies related to waste management. 
  • The Deliberation on Campus Sustainability was a collaborative, student-lead project that engaged students, staff and faculty in dialogues related to sustainability issues at the University of Alberta. 
  • Augustana Faculty's new curriculum is distinguished by its core requirements. Students must take 15 credits in at least three different categories, two of which are directly linked to sustainability.

Did you know?

The STARs program was just one of many tools used to create the Sustainability Plan. The plan is a comprehensive, working document that fosters discussion, captures new ideas and inspires adoption of sustainability practices. It collates strategic goals and initiatives identified by staff, faculty and students from across our institution that will enhance our sustainability performance in the next four years.

STARS and the Sustainability Plan publicly report and provide direction on how we can build a sustainable future together.

To read the University of Alberta’s Sustainability Plan, click here.