Grading sustainability

With the beach and a national monument just minutes away, environmentalism is part of our culture at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Reusable water bottles, bikes and sustainability-focused programs are abundant all around our campus, but do you ever wonder how sustainable we actually are compared to other universities? Well, we do. That’s why we complete the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Reporting System (STARS) created by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Through STARS, CSUMB collects data to assess our sustainability performance. From transportation to wastewater management, every area of our university is taken into consideration. As colleges across the world complete the report, they earn a STARS rating of bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Institutions earn points towards their rating through four main categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. Information found in the STARS report includes: how many sustainability-focused courses CSUMB offers, how many people are engaged in sustainability-focused outreach events, the amount of energy and water our campus uses, and the diversity of our university. The fulls STARS report is available online.

In 2016 and 2018, CSUMB earned a STARS silver accreditation. The goal is to inspire and celebrate sustainability progress, action and innovation as an institution. Some sustainability focused innovations on campus include the Laundry to Landscape greywater system in Pinnacles residential hall, using clean energy with our solar panel field and our many buildings on campus that meet LEED certifications.

We have also implemented sustainable dining programs to support waste reduction. In addition, through efforts led by Associated Students, the campus has begun to address food insecurity. This includes the formation of a basic needs committee and a food pantry system. With these accomplishments, we must remember that sustainability is an ongoing effort, our campus still has ambitions for improved performance – particularly in the areas of waste minimization, greenhouse gas reduction and integrating sustainability into academics.

Anyone with a CSUMB email can create their own AASHE account and view the data that is reported for our school. This can bring awareness to what we are all working towards at CSUMB – a more sustainable environment that we get to enjoy together. If you live on main campus, take a look at our water usage in the dorms or the amount of electricity we purchase, or obtain from renewable resources.

Our STARS rating is something we work to improve every year with the help of students, staff and faculty. The published STARS report is used by both the Princeton Review and the Sierra Club to rate our campus. Our Sierra Club “Cool Schools” rating, has improved from #152 in 2017 to #145 in 2018. Together, we can continue to grow and nurture a sustainable campus for the benefit of our natural environment as well as the people who live and work here.

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