MISSOULA – The University of Montana has earned a Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

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

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “The University of Montana has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.” UM Sustainability manages the University’s ongoing efforts to become socially, economically and environmentally sustainable in its operations, classrooms and facilities. Programs include integrating more sustainable practices in water use, waste, transportation, green buildings and grounds, food and energy.

UM has been a STARS reporting institution since 2014, when it first earned a Silver rating. In 2017, UM earned a Bronze rating due to an increase in carbon emissions and several other factors. The step backward motivated UM sustainability advocates to work hard to increase the institution’s score and sustainability leadership with its next submission.

Earning a total of 60.89 points, compared to the 2017 score of 42.13, means that UM has significantly improved in a few key areas and is competitive among peer institutions in the northern Rockies. UM Sustainability Director Eva Rocke said the 2021 reporting to STARS reflected growth in several areas of the University’s sustainability work that are a campuswide effort.

“STARS data collection is a huge lift, and there is no chance we could paint this holistic picture of campus sustainability without the help of our partners, which include everyone from Financial Aid to Facilities Services and Campus Dining.” With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, the 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, including academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

“We are very proud to have achieved a STARS Silver rating for our sustainability accomplishments,” Rocke said. “We look forward to watching our sustainability efforts grow and improve through the STARS program.”

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that is working to create a sustainable future. Its mission is to empower higher education to lead a sustainable transformation. The organization provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education. The University of Montana’s STARS report is publicly available at https://bit.ly/UMStarsReport.

- By UM News Service -