WEST CHESTER, PA — West Chester University may be home to the Golden Rams, but WCU has a new silver designation under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The silver designation is a result of the Office of Sustainability’s spring 2020 submission of a report of University sustainability accomplishments.
AASHE’s STARS is a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Institutions earn points and are rated from bronze to platinum for documenting the work they do to achieve sustainable outcomes across four categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. There are 63 types of sustainability initiatives in which a university could amass points.
“I’m very happy that we were able to document enough points to raise our rating from bronze to silver this year,” said Brad Flamm, director of WCU’s Office of Sustainability. Flamm presented a spring sustainability lecture about reporting the University’s sustainability efforts to STARS. Recordings of this and the other weekly Office of Sustainability presentations are available on the Digital Commons Sustainability Research and Creative Activities site.
Work on the report began in summer 2019 and involved staff, faculty, and students from multiple areas.
The University has much to celebrate. Among the highlights that earned points in the report:
- New learning opportunities such as the Sustainability Pathway Certificate Program; an interdisciplinary sustainability minor; and discipline-specific programs such as the Nutrition Department’s Sustainable Food Systems Management concentration.
- The Brandywine Project for Sustainability Education, through which 93 WCU faculty members have been trained to develop courses that address sustainability and which now includes workshops for students and staff.
- The energy-efficient, low-carbon geo-exchange system, one of the largest such systems on a university campus in North America, which heats and cools nearly half of WCU’s building space.
- Civic and community engagement that includes the campus organic gardens’ contributions to the WCU Resource Pantry; membership in the Climate Coalition of Greater Philadelphia; collaboration with the West Chester Green Team (a coalition of local non-profit environmental organizations); and the thousands of hours WCU students, faculty, and staff commit to volunteering in Chester County.
“Analyzing our accomplishments for STARS is an important effort for WCU. It helps us document our successes, understand how to improve in the future, and share the news of our good work with colleagues and partners,” Flamm said.
WCU President Christopher Fiorentino recognized campus efforts to implement and document sustainability measures: “West Chester University highlights our commitment to sustainability in our current Strategic Plan, Pathways to Student Success, where it is one of five mutually reinforcing areas of focus.”
The WCU public report is available at the AASHE STARS website.
Visit the WCU Office of Sustainability’s website for more information.
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