For the third time in a row, the University of Vermont’s sustainability efforts have achieved a Gold rating by STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. The university achieved its highest score ever, representing a continued upward trajectory since its first report in 2014.
“UVM’s commitment toward achieving sustainability and addressing global climate change challenges is integral to who we are as an institution,” said President Suresh Garimella. “I’m glad to see our efforts receive the national recognition they deserve. It reinforces the importance of following a comprehensive approach by developing a range of solutions that complement one another. We will continue to build on our success.”
STARS is the primary means for tracking sustainability performance for campuses across the United States, and is used by over 1,000 institutions of higher education. UVM’s designation currently places the university in the top 10 public, doctorate-granting institutions of similar size.
UVM’s gold rating is the result of a number of measures and accomplishments, including the following:
- 75% of departments have sustainability course offerings, and 20% of all courses taught in 2018-2019 were sustainability-related.
- Three trailblazing University of Vermont professors were recently named Fellows of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) for outstanding contributions to the science of ecology.
- UVM purchases 100% of electricity from Green-E certified renewable sources, primarily wind.
- Reduced or free car- and bike-sharing memberships are available to the UVM community in addition to 16 on-campus electric vehicle charging spaces. A new vehicle purchasing policy has increased the number of low- and zero-emissions fleet vehicles.
- UVM Dining exceeded the goal of purchasing at least 25% Real Food (local, organic, fairly traded or humanely raised) before the target date of 2025.
- A $13 million Energy Revolving Fund supports on-campus energy efficiency upgrades.
- Multiple ongoing and formal community partnerships are dedicated to advancing sustainability through service-learning, such as the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative and the Vermont Mobile Home Research Collaborative.
- A Sustainability Ambassadors Program, modeled from the longstanding student Eco-Reps program, was created for employees to promote and advance sustainability in their workplaces.
The STARS rating is managed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and is good for three years. AASHE raises the bar with new evidence-based criteria for each version change. Despite this, UVM has maintained its Gold standing and increased its score in each rating period. An institution can earn a STARS rating at the Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum level. Only six out of 1002 participating schools have a Platinum rating.