Missouri State University has received a bronze rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.Sustainability
While 249 higher education institutions are registered as STARS participants, Missouri State is in the first 50 to receive a STARS rating. The data collection was a student-led effort, spearheaded by students Jacob Swett, Hannah Eubanks and Lauren Bansbach. Much of the work occurred in the fall and spring of this academic year under the direction of Dr. Tamera Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, along with the help of students, staff, faculty and administration.
“We’re excited about the opportunity that STARS gives us to have a comprehensive understanding of sustainability at Missouri State,” said Swett, Student Government Association (SGA) president. “The program will not only help us understand and highlight our strengths, but more importantly it will help us identify and target areas that need improvement.”
The project was submitted through the SGA Student Sustainability Commission. The commission, with funding from the student sustainability fee, accepted the proposal and paid the STARS registration fee.
Information about sustainability measures across campus was collected and consolidated into a scorecard, which provides the university with a baseline. Some of the areas Missouri State received points for include Student Sustainability Outreach Campaigns with the Missouri State University Sustainability Commission, residence life Green Games, and having a sustainability fund. Points were also received for tray-less dining, pre- and post-consumer food waste composting and using recycled content napkins. The university also has an integrated pest management plan, an institution-wide stated preference to purchase Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) silver or higher products, and for existing strategies to safely dispose of all hazardous, universal, and non-regulated chemical waste and seeks to minimize the presence of these materials on campus, all of which contributed points toward the bronze rating.
The only program of its kind, STARS involves the public reporting of comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement. Respectively, Missouri State achieved 20.01 percent, 31.20 percent and 43.29 percent of the credits available in each area.
“As a student I am so pleased that the university community came together to complete this project,” said Eubanks, a former member of Students for a Sustainable Future who help launch the effort. (She has since graduated.) “I hope that the outcome will encourage and challenge the administration, faculty, staff and students to pay attention to our effect on the environment as individuals and as a campus and to continue making improvements.”
For more information about the STARS program, visit www.aashe.org/stars.