USF is Charter Member in Nation's First Campus-Wide Sustainability Program

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2010) – The University of South Florida has joined in the launch of a new national effort to encourage sustainability practices in all aspects of campus life. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education introduced STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) and will launch its online reporting tool on Jan. 19.

More than 115 higher education institutions have registered as STARS Charter Participants. AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves a comprehensive process of collecting and publicly reporting information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance in education and research, operations, and planning, administration and engagement.

“The Office of Sustainability has made the bold move to align its sustainability planning measures with other schools nationwide as a charter member of the STARS program,” said Christian Wells, director of USF’s Office of Sustainability.

“This program, which is far more comprehensive than existing report card programs, allows USF to monitor and track its sustainability efforts online and to compare what we are doing with other schools around the country. This approach will be immensely useful as we continue to develop and implement our climate action plan for the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.”

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada and the criterion that determines a STARS rating is 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 around the country.

“The advantage of STARS is that all aspects of campus life are taken into consideration with regard to the ability to earn credits,” said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “From providing sustainability coursework, to dorm cleaning products, to energy efficiency in campus buildings, there are lots of opportunities for a school to identify and track its sustainability progress.”

For more information about the STARS program, visit www.aashe.org/stars.

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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