Stonehill Earns STARS Silver Rating

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STARS Silver Rating

"The process of implementing our Sustainability Plan and completing the STARS report has helped us to better link academic study and research with real-world impacts" – Fr. John Denning, President

Stonehill College has earned a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. 

Stonehill’s Sustainability Plan, formally published in 2014, set goals of achieving a STARS Bronze Rating in 2015, followed by the STARS Silver Rating in 2018. By the fall of 2015, the college had earned a score well above what was needed to obtain a bronze rating and also very close to achieving a silver rating. Therefore, the college chose to wait until able to submit at the silver level. Completing the application and providing the required documentation to achieve this goal required an extensive review of Stonehill’s sustainability efforts in academics, engagement, operations, purchasing, and governance. The final report is over 200 pages and is publically available on the AASHE website.  

It took approximately one year to pull all of the requisite information together and complete the survey. Input from many departments throughout the college was required. These departments include Operations, Facilities Management, Institutional Research & Assessment, Purchasing, IT, Academics, Intercultural Affairs, Human Resources, and the Mission Office. The rating expires in 3 years; therefore, the Office of Sustainability will begin this process again in 2018. 

Key initiatives & endeavors included in the STARS survey:

  • Implementing a campus wide energy management system (EMS) that lead to reductions in the College’s greenhouse gas emissions. As of April 2016, the EMS has complete coverage in 9 buildings and partial coverage in 4 buildings, so that 55% of the College’s gross square footage has at least partial coverage. Between 2012 and 2015, the College reduced its energy intensity (energy use per gross square foot) by more than 10%.
  • Growing and distributing organic produce at The Farm with student and staff volunteers using sustainable practices to our neighbors with limited access to fresh and affordable food. Also utilizing The Farm as a living laboratory where Faculty engage students in issues related to sustainability.
  • The activities of the student body were also key. Some of their contributions include the Students for Environmental Action, Food Truth, dining hall composting program, Eco-Reps, Sustainability Fair, bike share, Mindful Living Community, Enactus furniture fair, and abundant student body volunteerism.
  • An extensive review of the academic catalog was conducted to determine which courses include sustainability.
  • Stonehill’s commitment to diversity and affordability also proved to be key and earned nearly all of the points available in its section of the survey.

With more than 760 participants on six continents, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in four overall areas: operations, academics, engagement, and planning, administration. While STARS is a sustainability-focused system, it does not only assess environmental factors but also social and economic factors.

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS Rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

"The process of implementing our Sustainability Plan and completing the STARS report has helped us to better link academic study and research with real-world impacts, which only enhances our educational mission. Similarly, by being transparent as we evaluated and benchmarked our sustainability efforts, we saw improved communication and understanding among the various campus departments and community partners on how they can continue contributing to the process.”
– Fr. John Denning, President