BU Shines with STARS

sustainability@BU intern Dylan Lewellyn tracks BU's sustainability data to submit to AASHE.

sustainability@BU intern Dylan Lewellyn tracks BU’s sustainability data to submit to AASHE.

How does BU measure its progress in becoming a more sustainable campus? Who sets the bar? BU evaluates the University’s performance annually in categories such as greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction, energy use, and water consumption. In the past 9 years, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions 25%, our waste by 9%, and our water use by 7% all while the campus footprint has grown 14%.

It’s one thing to compete with ourselves, but to hold ourselves accountable we must measure our progress against that of our peers as well.

As a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Boston University reports progress on its sustainability programs and initiatives through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System™ (STARS). STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

“Reporting to STARS not only helps BU take pride in its efforts to be a more sustainable campus, but also engages the institution in this critical dialog at a national level,” said sustainability@BU intern Dylan Lewellyn who works as the STARS coordinator to compile all of the information needed for the 2015 report.

“STARS offers universities and colleges all over the world a framework to measure their sustainability performance and to facilitate sharing of best practices. The four sections of the report cover an extensive range of topics from academics and engagement to operations and administration. Based on an institution’s cumulative score in these four areas, they are awarded a rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.”

Boston University has received a Silver rating for all four years they have reported to STARS. In this year’s report the University got special recognition for the Venice Environmental Studies Program, the BU Bike Accident Toolkit app, and its partnership with FarmLogix in purchasing local sustainable products.

Not only does this report allow BU to measure itself against other institutions, it fosters communication and cooperation within the University community. As the STARS Coordinator, Dylan is responsible for compiling all of the data necessary to complete the report. This involves requesting data from numerous offices across campus, doing extensive research into University programs and initiatives, and verifying all of this data before uploading it to the STARS website.

“Because of its comprehensive nature, preparing BU’s STARS report requires contributions from many different people in departments all across campus. sustainability@BU has developed relationships within these departments, and reaches out to them each year to verify and update data about their programming. If it were not for the dedicated individuals in these offices, communicating their efforts, as well as the overall achievements of the University, would not be possible,” said Lewellyn.

“This process offers a great opportunity to build relationships between sustainability@BU and offices throughout campus while learning about the wonderful work the individuals in these offices do.”

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