Seattle University Earns STARS Gold Rating for Sustainability

BY ISN STAFF | June 17, 2021

As Jesuit institutions in the U.S. increasingly deepen their commitment to environmental sustainability, Seattle University has earned a Gold rating through The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) for its ongoing work. This marks the third time SU has received a Gold rating. 

Seattle University

Seattle University

Other Jesuit colleges and universities holding STARS ratings include, with Gold ratings, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, and Santa Clara University, with Silver ratings, Boston College and Marquette University, and with Bronze ratings, Creighton University and Saint Louis University. 

Administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), STARS measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

Seattle University improved its score from 75.64, when it was last rated in 2018, to 79.38 this year, placing SU second only to Santa Clara (79.45) among Jesuit institutions. The university’s score puts it within about 6 percentage points of achieving STARS’ highest rating, platinum, a distinction held by only 11 institutions. SU’s score ranks #26 among all STARS reporting schools and 14th among those earning a Gold rating.

“The STARS report is a comprehensive measure of our social, economic and environmental sustainability efforts, and it’s great to see the improvements that our campus has made since 2018,” said Phil Thompson, director of the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability. “With over 90 categories of data, it truly touches every area of campus and our strong performance reflects the excellent work and collaboration of an enormous number of people. The report also helps us benchmark areas of improvement which will be our focus as we develop our sustainability strategy going forward.”

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE executive director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Seattle University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS GOLD Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s 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: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, innovation and leadership.

Seattle University’s STARS score can be attributed to the university’s improved data collection efforts and recent progress in a number of areas, including:

  • Improved procurement policies and practices and Managed Print Services’ 100% post-consumer recycled paper purchasing
  • Increased waste diversion, as demonstrated by the university’s success in the Race to Zero Waste
  • Significantly improved water conservation practices thanks to updates by Facilities to faucets and showerheads in residence halls and public bathrooms
  • A 16 percent reduction in carbon emissions since 2009 and the university’s adoption of sustainability in the strategic plan as well as its commitment to divest from fossil fuels
  • A growing embrace of sustainable commuting practices, the opening of EV charging stations on campus, the founding of a staff council and the creation of a food pantry
  • Availability of faculty and student fellowships for environmental justice and sustainability research, 400+ sustainability-related courses and the engagement and leadership of several active sustainability-focused student groups 

The Board of Trustees of Seattle University voted in 2018 to adopt a pair of recommendations to divest the university’s $230 million endowment from fossil fuels over five years.

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