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Alexis Suskin-Sperry
IU Office of Sustainability

Last modified: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Indiana University Bloomington achieves STARS Silver sustainability rating

Jan. 12, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington became the seventh school in North America to report using a comprehensive new campus sustainability benchmark, receiving a "silver" rating.

The rating system, called the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). To date, nearly 230 higher education institutions have registered as STARS Charter Participants.

"We are proud to be among the first universities to participate in the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System," said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson. "While there is much more progress to be made, our participation in this project indicates that we are firmly dedicated to addressing the serious issues surrounding sustainability."

AASHE's STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement.

Each category is further divided into subcategories encompassing a broad range of information from traditional categories such as energy and water consumption to unique subjects such as sustainability policy advocacy and historically underutilized businesses. The compilation of categories considers the social, economic, and environmental components of sustainability. Point values associated with each credit are averaged among the three overall areas to obtain a platinum, gold, silver, or bronze rating.

"Colleges and universities are regularly rated on campus sustainability by a number of publications and organizations," said Bill Brown, director of the Office of Sustainability, "but we are never quite sure how they assign scores, and the focus of their surveys varies considerably. STARS was developed by higher education for higher education to be a consistent, comprehensive and transparent assessment."

IU Bloomington scored well in the planning, administration and engagement section, where the Campus Master Plan, which includes a comprehensive plan of campus sustainability recommendations, played a large role. The category with the most opportunity for additional improvement for the Bloomington campus is in energy conservation and emissions reductions. Because of programs such as the Energy Challenge, the Qualified Energy Savings Projects and an Integrated Energy Master Plan that is in progress, the campus has great potential to achieve an even higher ranking in future submissions while reducing waste and saving money.

Tom Morrison, IU vice president for capital projects and facilities, said, "Sustainability is a crucial component of the Campus Master Plan, and this comprehensive benchmark will help us measure our progress toward attaining those recommendations."

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, the STARS program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine ratings are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

"Our involvement with STARS will allow us to collaborate more effectively with other universities on sustainability initiatives and to compare our efforts with those of other institutions," said Hanson. "Indiana University will be a healthier, stronger and more sustainable place because of our connection to this program."

For more information regarding IU Bloomington's involvement with STARS, please contact Bill Brown at 812-855-1822; or to view the full results, visit More information about the Indiana University Office of Sustainability can be found at