Improving Our STARS Reporting Methodology

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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) is a comprehensive tool used to track sustainability initiatives. STARS is a rating system for campuses that allows sustainability programs of higher education institutions to monitor and transparently report their environmental footprint across a wide array of categories. Much like Princeton Review or the Best Rankings of U.S. News & World Reports, it communicates the unique aspects of our sustainability portfolio.

Boston University is one of the few universities that elects to participate in the survey on an annual basis. The STARS Report is an opportunity for sustainability@BU to gather information from departments on campus regarding anything from energy, waste, and water consumption, to sustainability-related curriculum, community outreach and engagement, and administrative planning.

Within the previous year’s reporting cycle, FY2016, sustainability@BU chose to pursue the enhancement of its STARS methodology. Our most recent report scored Silver with a total of 55.58 points. To better collect and organize information about our initiatives and habits, we worked with departments like Institutional Research, BU Libraries, the Provost’s and Registrar’s Offices, and Sourcing & Procurement, among other departments. Proposed solutions to increasing our overall score and our sustainable actions include:

  • Enhancing the Course Bulletin data entry system to flag more sustainability centered courses
  • Implementing a Student Sustainability Leadership program for peer-to-peer education
  • Increasing policy around sustainable product sourcing
  • Rethinking University construction waste and diversion plans
  • Developing a comprehensive sustainability plan such as the Climate Action Plan

Ultimately, Boston University uses STARS as a benchmark to assess its performance among its peers, recommend viable changes to the University’s operations, and to find opportunities for inter-campus collaboration within the BU community.

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