Green efforts land BU spot on STARS rankings

Written by Lisa Hagen.  Published Feb 10, 2011 in the Daily Free Press

The Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System gives universities the chance to be recognized for their efforts to be environmentally friendly, and Boston University is among the front runners of environmentally friendly colleges according to the ratings.

According to the STARS website, the ranking system was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Universities individually apply to the organization by self-reporting their green efforts and goals that benefit the school and students.

BU Sustainability Director Dennis Carlberg said he plans to submit a self-report to STARS.

“We are developing the university’s sustainability strategic plan on the STARS framework,” Carlberg said. “Once complete, we will report our efforts using the STARS system.”

Sustainability@BU aims to reduce BU’s environmental footprint by improving recycling rate, energy efficiency, sustainable student organizations and courses in sustainability, Carlberg said.

BU’s School of Education also aims to encourage environmental awareness through its Sustainability Resource Center.

Associate professor of science education Douglas Zook said he believes in the importance of integrating green thinking.

“The Sustainability Resource Center at SED has made a real commitment to be in tune with becoming greener before even reaching a big scale level at BU,” Zook said.

The SRC has invested in projects such as solar panels on the SED roof, recycling 100 percent of the paper used at SED and recycling cardboard, Zook said.

College of Fine Arts junior Anna Faber-Hammond is the resident assistant for the Earth House, a specialty brownstone where students interested in sustainability and environmental policies live and help to recycle and preserve energy.

“The house is sponsored by sustainability[@BU] and it mostly consists of science majors,” Faber-Hammond said. “I think BU has done a good job raising awareness on campus and once

they get even more students involved, they will get even more recognized for their efforts in the future.”

Coffee shops and convenience stores on BU’s campus encourage students to be green by taking 25 cents off each cup of coffee when customers provide their own mugs.

College of Arts and Sciences senior Justin Gonzalez, who works at the Warren Towers Starbucks, said he noticed that the store produces much less waste than previous years.

“Food waste and coffee grounds go to compost and milk cartons are recycled,” Gonzalez said. “BU is actually trying to be more green and they’re doing a good job.”

In 2010, BU was recognized by the Princeton Review as one of 286 “green colleges” and by the Sierra Club as a “Cool School” because of its environmental efforts, Carlberg said.

Sustainability@BU has received awards for their efforts including the Webby Honoree award for environmental websites, and the best project award in the Educational Institution category at the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange awards.

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