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CSU Ranked Number One for Sustainability

Colorado State University is once again the top school in the country for its sustainability efforts. CSU achieved the highest score ever reported to Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Reporting System - or STARS - a national survey that measures sustainability efforts at universities and colleges across the country.

CSU scored 83.48 out of 100 possible points to earn a “gold” rating.  Of the 300 universities that participate in STARS, only 18 percent have achieved gold, the system’s second highest ranking. (No university has ever earned platinum, the highest ranking.)

The STARS system evaluates universities for their sustainability efforts across campus. Reporting is divided into three categories: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement. Because of that, university and colleges consider STARS the most comprehensive – and prestigious - sustainability rating system, said Carol Dollard, facilities manager, who co-chairs CSU’s sustainability advisory committee.

“With STARS, it’s not just about how many solar panels we have on campus or how much energy our buildings use,” she said. “STARS looks at that and more. We also are evaluated on student engagement, diversity, sustainability-related courses and research and other areas.”

Warner College Sustainability highlights
The report named Warner College of Natural Resources as one of the University’s key areas dedicated to sustainability. The College helped CSU achieve a gold STARS ranking through its education, research and outreach. It has four student clubs promoting sustainability, over 20 faculty engaged in sustainability research and more than 60 sustainability courses.

In the summer of 2013, Warner College successfully launched two new natural resources field courses, one to Kenya and one to Belize. Both immersive courses gave students hands on sustainability experience and enhanced students' global perspectives.

First-year students enrolled in one of the College’s eight majors have the opportunity to join a Natural Resources Residential Learning Community. Those who apply can register for a freshman seminar class on sustainability and participate in an alternative Spring Break in the local National Parks. Students are encouraged to engage in a wide range of sustainability activities and opportunities on campus.
Studying in the Warner College of Natural Resources gives students the chance to take field courses at Pingree Park—CSU’s unique mountain campus. Students learn through instruction and activity and study tree identification, fire ecology, map and compass use, geology, life zones and ecosystem interaction.

The College recently added Ecosystem Science and Sustainability (ESS) as its fifth department where the Watershed and ESS majors are housed. The department aims to understand ecosystem function and change and contribute to understanding and sustaining ecosystems and their services.

CSU and Warner College are also involved in the North Central Climate Science Center, part of a consortium of nine institutions which provide expertise in climate science, ecology, impacts assessment, modeling, urban environments, and advanced information technology to deal with climate issues in the North Central US.  The climate science centers were created to provide scientific information, tools, and techniques that managers and other parties interested in land, water, wildlife and cultural resources can use to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change.

Throughout the year both CSU and Warner College hold sustainability events. The College is an active participant in CSU’s biggest sustainability event, Earth Week. This year Warner College hosted renowned Colorado nature photographer John Fielder as part of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The College also sponsored the 2014 CSU Tree Campus USA and Arbor Day Celebration.

Colorado State is proud to be a leader in the research and practice of environmental sustainability, and this STARS score is a real testament to our high-caliber environmental research faculty and operations staff,” said Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice president of CSU. “As a university, we want to be fully engaged in sustainability. Conducting critical environmental research, maximizing efficiency in operations, and engaging Colorado communities on sustainability issues are university-wide efforts. We are able to leverage these areas with expanded environmental studies programs to prepare learners to be the next generation of sustainability leaders.”

Posted on Sept. 1, 2014
Written by Marissa Isgreen