The University of Rochester has been recognized as a STARS Silver Institution by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). A total of 1,078 institutions worldwide have registered to use the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program, which allows higher education institutions to self-report their accomplishments and assess their current sustainability performance. The University’s 2022 STARS report is publicly available on the AASHE STARS website. This is not the first time the University has been recognized for its sustainability efforts; the University previously completed the self-report in 2016 and 2019, earning a STARS Silver ranking each time.
For the STARS assessment, there are five areas of evaluation: 1) academics, 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership. The STARS report highlights:
The University engages in several outreach campaigns, including the
- Annual Campus Race to Zero Waste promotion campaign to reduce campus waste
- U-Commute program to encourage sustainable transportation options
- EcoReps student educators program
- Green Reps employee educators program.
These campaigns target students and employees to encourage positive behaviors and offer support in strides toward a sustainable culture. This year a survey to assess sustainable culture was also distributed to students.
With more than 1,400 trees of 116 different species, the University has again been named a Tree Campus USA institution for the eleventh straight year. Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 to honor colleges and universities that have a commitment to effective urban forest management and engaging staff and students in conservation goals. The University of Rochester was the sixth institution in New York to receive this recognition just after the program began, and has been named a Tree Campus each year since.
In addition, the University received ArbNet Arboretum accreditation in 2021. The ArbNet program unifies the arboretum community by establishing and sharing a widely recognized set of industry standards.
The University of Rochester’s Dining Services continues to work with local organizations to help deliver fresh, local meals to its students, employees, and the surrounding community.
Cam Schauf, director of Dining Services, serves on the Ivy+ Listening Post Carbon Neutrality Working Group in an effort to support institutions in accelerating best practices toward achieving carbon neutrality for campus facilities by mid-century. Cam is also on the Westside Farmers Market market board; students can use their meal plans to purchase food at the market situated across the Genesee River from the River Campus.
The Connections Café, located in Rush Rhees Library, showcases local purchasing with over 95 percent of its food and beverages coming from New York State. In addition, the operation was made plastic-free last year.
The University joined Climate Action 100+. This coalition of investment firms, pension funds, and institutional investors pushes the corporations that are the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitters to agree to plans that will lower these emissions, be transparent about their operations, and take necessary action on climate change.
Building on Rochester’s sustainability successes
Zein Tynon `24, who has been part of Facilities Team Green since Summer 2021, worked on compiling the resources for the STARS report. “Gathering all the information was both exhausting, frustrating and eye-opening,” he says. “It is amazing to see where we can easily make improvements and where we really need to put in the effort just from this assessment.”
The University of Rochester continuously strives to achieve a more sustainable community. With more than 100 undergraduate and graduate sustainability inclusive course offerings and several student sustainability groups on campus, including and not limited to the EcoReps, Grassroots, Engineers for a Sustainable World, and Engineers Without Borders, the University is on track to becoming a more sustainable community.
Learn more about Rochester’s sustainability efforts and progress.
Written by Hanyia Ahmed, Class of 2022