When it comes to assessing sustainability practices, STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) is the gold standard, and in the most recent STARS survey, Colby rated gold. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) uses STARS to rate the sustainability performance of colleges and universities around the world. Colby’s high gold rating (75.65 points) puts it highest among NESCAC schools, where only Middlebury also achieved gold status with 72.61 points.
And Colby’s gold rating compares well not just among similar institutions, but against colleges around the world.
Colby’s Office of Sustainability completed and submitted its latest STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) application for the transparent, self-reporting framework in December 2014.
Sustainability Coordinator Kevin Bright, with the help of environmental studies majors Casey Ballin ’16 and Jeff Meltzer ’15, spent months meeting with staff, administrators, and faculty to discuss different aspects of the College’s sustainability profile. A number of campus initiatives contributed to the gold rating, but our declaration of carbon neutrality in 2013, along with the operation of the campus biomass heating plant, were key. Contributing the Colby’s carbon neutrality and STARS gold rating are the College’s move to 100-percent renewable electricity sources in 2003, its pursuit of LEED certification in all new construction and major renovation projects, retrofitting energy-intensive components of existing buildings with efficient alternatives, completing the campus biomass plant in 2011, and achieving neutrality through the purchase of carbon offsets for the College’s remaining carbon emissions beginning in 2013.
Colby’s Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) is currently discussing changes around campus that would lower our environmental impact further in pursuit of a STARS platinum rating, which no other college or university in the world has earned, Bright said. Though Colby is ahead of almost all other colleges in sustainability efforts and practices, the College continues to seek improvements, with local food purchasing, existing buildings, energy use, waste diversion, and investment under discussion.
Colby’s STARS application and rating online offers a good view all of our sustainability initiatives. Take a look!