Valencia has received a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), is a new tool that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
“[STARS] provides a chance to achieve recognition for our accomplishments in sustainability, as well as to document where we are now and focus our efforts forward,” said Helene Loiselle, assistant vice president of facilities and sustainability.
Participants in the STARS program report achievements based on environmental, economic, and social indicators, which are divided into four categories related to campus activities: 1) education and research, 2) operations, 3) planning, administration and engagement, and 4) innovation.
Leading the sustainability effort at Valencia is the facilities department, which has implemented diverse initiatives to aid in the achievement of the STARS rating. This includes the implementation of an Energy Education program, green building guidelines for all new buildings, use of green cleaning products, and achievement of the Tree Campus USA status.
STARS credits are also obtained through many other efforts of college operations, including diversity and equity coordination, sustainable compensation, and procurement policies. Many Valencia staff members and administrators contributed information that led to the STARS Silver rating, Helene explained, and it is an accomplishment of the entire college.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. Any institution of higher education in the U.S. and Canada can participate, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone.
This is the first year Valencia is participating in STARS and, so far, we are the only community college in Florida enrolled in the program. Most of the 208 colleges that have achieved a STARS rating are four-year institutions, and many credits apply to residence halls and research facilities, both of which Valencia does not have.
“We are very proud to have achieved the STARS Silver Rating for our sustainability accomplishments,” said Keith Houck, vice president of operations and finance. “Working on STARS has guided our efforts in the past year, and we look forward to moving from our areas of strength to areas where we need improvement.” Only one community college has achieved the prestigious Gold rating in STARS, and Keith says this is something for Valencia to work toward.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that is working to create a sustainable future. With a mission to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation, AASHE provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do.
For further information about our STARS rating and how you can get involved in Valencia’s sustainability effort, contact Deborah Green, director of sustainability, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at extension1830.