Syracuse University Receives STARS Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

Syracuse 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). The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

STARS, a self-assessment, incorporates data accuracy processes that improve report quality, protect the credibility of the program and provide a fair and transparent means for resolving questions about the accuracy of reported data.

The University has been a member of Second Nature as a Carbon Commitment campus focusing on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and achieving carbon neutrally by 2040. The University has a clear roadmap to implement and increase sustainability across campus by using the STARS reporting system.

All produce grown in Pete’s Giving Garden, the University’s campus garden, supports two food pantries on campus.

In its second STARS submission, the University had a Silver Rating of 61.49 points, with a stated goal of continuing to increase sustainability across campus by utilizing STARS as a roadmap and benchmarking tool. Sustainability Management will help guide departments and the associated schools and colleges on how to increase sustainability in their areas.

“Academics increased the number of courses that include sustainability or are a sustainable class by 13 percent over the past few years. I was truly amazed at the number of sustainable products being purchased and used on campus. I look forward to when sustainable supplies are the standard and not the exception,” says Melissa Cadwell, the University’s sustainability coordinator responsible for compiling the information in the STARS report.

Campus sustainability and energy conservation measures have consistently increased over the years, with the University purchasing more renewable energy certificates, offsetting electricity usage from 35% to 45%, mitigating 40,277,814 kWh’s per year.

The campus installed its first solar thermal system on 160 three-bedroom apartments utilizing solar energy to heat the water, saving approximately 300,000 kWh’s per year or 213 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2) a year. Additionally, 139 solar panels were installed on the roof of the Schine Student Center in 2020, generating 66,000 kWh per year while saving approximately 46.8 metric tons of CO2, calculated using the EPA.Gov GHG equivalency calculator.

Since 2015, the University has also seen:

  • Food Services supporting sustainability and sustainable food through Meatless Mondays while adding a Core Life Eatery to campus
  • Adding LED energy-efficient lighting on campus
  • University Purchasing buying 99 percent of the campus’s office paper from post-consumer recycled paper or Forest Stewardship Council-certified content paper
  • Campus as a Lab for Sustainability grant funded 25 campus projects for faculty and students who research ways to help make the campus climate neutral
  • Campus Grounds department adding two electric lawnmowers to its fleet of equipment
  • Sustainability Management has partnered with Hendricks Chapel to sponsor a food pantry in its space on South Campus. All produce grown in Pete’s Giving Garden, the University’s campus garden, supports the two food pantries on campus.

“This marks the completion of our second AASHE STARS rating and illustrates our campus community commitment as outlined in our Climate Action Plan and our goal of climate neutrality,” says Pete Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer. “The silver rating was earned through planning and continued efforts of our campus community and showcases our continued progress towards sustainability. We need to thank our campus community for their hard work in helping us become an even more sustainable campus.”

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. Participants report achievements in five overall areas:

  • academics
  • engagement
  • operations
  • Planning and administration
  • innovation and leadership

The program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria behind 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.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” says AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Syracuse University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

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