University earns STARS Silver rating for sustainability achievements

November 4, 2016

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has earned a STARS Silver rating for its accomplishments in sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, is a comprehensive framework for colleges and universities to measure sustainability performance and achievements in four categories – Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning and Administration.

A primary campus sustainability assessment tool, the AASHE 2.0 report was the university’s first submission for a STARS level designation. 

UNC Charlotte scored above average in research, campus engagement, transportation, waste, water, planning, and well-being.  Innovation credit was earned for cooperative work done with county and city staff to prepare for the introduction of the Light Rail service in 2017.

The assessment, led by Michael Lizotte, Ph.D., University sustainability officer, was a campus-wide endeavor.  Lizotte, along with the Sustainability Executive Committee, task forces, faculty, staff, and student interns, worked collaboratively over a two-year period to complete the submission.

“Our STARS submission is a product of hard work from across the institution, and has helped us build a stronger network and understanding of sustainability on our campus,” says Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.

The extensive report noted several university milestones including a decrease, since 2003, of 24 percent water usage per person.  Additionally, a total of 19 percent of the research conducted on campus is being done on sustainability issues spanning 59 percent of academic departments.  Also highlighted as a “good employer in the region,” 98 percent of staff are covered at sustainable employee compensation levels.

In recent years, Lizotte says “the university has made significant progress to improve issues in a variety of areas including transportation, waste generation and disposal, and energy consumption – to name a few. The progress, which affirms sustainability as a campus-wide effort, is profound.”

By using this form of deep analysis, the university will be able to learn from past successes and replicate them in new pursuits, continue to grow responsibly as its infrastructure expands to meet the increasing student population, and proactively approach new challenges.

UNC Charlotte is committed to progressing sustainability across the many facets of campus, and has the institution’s support to continue to lead by example. 

An AASHE member since 2009, the STARS Silver rating will be beneficial in helping to engage the campus community about goals and plans in the next year to revise the sustainability plan.