AMHERST — A national program that measures accomplishments in sustainability in higher education has placed UMass Amherst ninth in the nation, a leap of 20 places from the previous rating in 2015.
The ‘gold’ rating from the Assoc. for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program recognizes sustainability accomplishments in areas such as academics, research, engagement, operations, and administration. The rating is good for three years.
“This new STARS score reflects the university’s continuing commitment to excellence in sustainability,” said Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “UMass Amherst is a leader in best practices for energy-efficient construction and sustainable food use, conducting world-class research, and preparing a new generation of students to be inspired stewards of our planet.”
The university scored a 75.77 to earn its gold rating, a significant increase from its score of 68.18 in 2015, which was also a gold. UMass Amherst is now rated ninth in the STARS Campus Sustainability Index among U.S. doctorate-granting institutions, up from 29th in 2015.
To prepare the rating application, sustainability staff and others involved in ‘green’ campus efforts used an online sustainability evaluation tool to report data in the categories of academics, campus engagement, operations, and planning/administration.
In a letter that was part of the reporting process, Subbaswamy cited a number of recent actions, including creation of the School of Earth and Sustainability; installation of the largest solar-power project of any college in New England; the design and construction of the John W. Olver Design Building, which is the largest and most technologically advanced academic contemporary wood structure in the U.S.; and the decision to be the first major public university to divest its endowment from direct holdings in fossil fuels.