UC Santa Barbara is among a group of educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada selected to participate in a new initiative to develop standards for measuring progress toward sustainability on college and university campuses.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) is a collaborative pilot program recently launched by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), of which UCSB is a member. Program participants include public and private colleges, community colleges, and research universities.
The STARS system, which will be tested this year by the group, will provide guidelines for advancing sustainability in all sectors of higher education, from governance and operations to academics, student life, and community engagement.
"We are honored to be selected as one of the universities for the STARS pilot program," said Perrin Pellegrin, UCSB's sustainability manager.
"The program will assist us in tracking all the sustainability improvements we have made at UCSB and provide a benchmark for all campuses to strive for.
Plus, we hope to garner innovative ideas from other institutions of higher education across the country and to share our experiences with them."
The STARS system will be similar to the Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system.
STARS, however, will be applied to an entire campus rather than to a single building or set of buildings and will evaluate social responsibility as well as environmental stewardship.
The new STARS rating system will be available early next year.
"STARS will help campuses benchmark progress at their own institutions and provide recognition for their sustainability achievements," said Judy Walton, project manager of STARS and acting executive director of the AASHE.
When it comes to sustainability and environmental building standards, UC Santa Barbara is considered a leader.
The University of California has adopted a green building policy for all of its campuses, which represents an extraordinary commitment to sustainability.