In past years UVM's Office of Sustainability has participated in external sustainability assessments by Sierra Club, Princeton Review and others. Although these rating and ranking systems get press coverage and raise interest in sustainability and in the particular institutions, answering hundreds of questions of various sizes and importance can take up tremendous amounts of time and have other inherent problems.
For that reason, in July of 2010, along with a number of other sustainability directors and coordinators from higher educational institutions, we sent a letter to several organizations that solicit sustainability surveys. The letter urged the organizations to incorporate transparency, accountability, disclosure of professional credentials of staff, uniform matrices, rejection of financial conflicts of interest in their surveys, and to give an opt-in or opt-out choice.
Since then, both The Sierra Club and The Princeton Review have agreed to draw from the existing data many campuses were already uploading to STARS (the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) developed by AASHE (the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) instead of creating their own metrics.
President Sullivan decided early in 2013 that the University would participate in STARS. STARS has been developed after years of organized conversations among institutions of higher education to assess sustainability in academics, culture, operations, and policy. Check our AASHE STARS page to learn more about our second Gold rating!