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Mount Union Receives Bronze Sustainability Rating

August 31, 2011

The University of Mount Union recently received a bronze rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), making it the first institution in Ohio to receive a STARS rating. STARS, a program developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. To date, Mount Union is among the pool 121 colleges and universities rated by STARS in the United States and Canada. The University was also one of 30 institutions to serve as a pilot institution, participating in a preliminary assessment a few years back.
 
“As an institution, we should be proud of the investment our Board of Trustees, president and overall campus community has made in sustainability,” said Dr. Charles McClaugherty, chair of Sustainability Management Advisory Committee at Mount Union. “Making this commitment and putting in the effort will inevitably make life better for not only us but future generations.”
 
On campus, McClaugherty also serves as the Dr. John D. Brumbaugh Chair of Ecology and Environmental Science, professor of biology, co-director of the Environmental Science Program and director of the Brumbaugh Center for Environmental Science. He noted that after a campus-wide, year-long effort involving the collection of research and data, the STARS application was formally submitted on April 27, 2011. Mount Union had to provide detailed information ranging from how it engages students in community service and curriculum design to technology purchase and energy efficiency. Using this information, the STARS reporting program tracked Mount Union’s sustainability performance in four overall areas: education and research; operations; planning, administration and engagement; and innovation.
 
“Mount Union has taken a number of steps to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability,” said Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of Mount Union, in a letter accompanying Mount Union’s STARS application. “We built our first LEED-certified building, the Gartner Welcome Center, and we spotlight our commitment to sustainability to prospective students and their parents when they visit our campus. We have added individual metering to most of our buildings and are embarking on a detailed analysis of energy consumption on a building-by-building basis. We also have initiated a faculty development program, The Headwaters Project, which assists interested faculty with the development of courses that integrate sustainability concepts across our curriculum.”
  
STARS encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability. According to its website, STARS is designed to provide a framework for understanding in all sectors of higher education; enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements developed with broad participation from the campus community; create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability; facilitate information sharing about higher education sustainability practices and performance; and build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.
“We did this to help ourselves,” added McClaugherty. “We weren’t out to set a record or be nationally ranked. And, it’s not just the rating that’s important but also it’s the representation of the commitment the institution has made to sustainability. The University is thinking long term about its future, its role in the community, how it utilizes energy and how it invests in building projects.”

The Sustainability Management Advisory Committee will resubmit a STARS application in 2014.

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