Butler University has earned a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in recognition of the University’s sustainability achievements. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is a comprehensive sustainability rating system for colleges and universities that addresses the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability.
Butler’s STARS application was completed and submitted by the University’s Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES). The Silver rating Butler earned this year reflects the progress the University is making in its sustainability efforts; the University earned a Bronze rating following its first STARS submission in 2018.
“This STARS Silver rating for Butler was possible because departments, offices, and individuals across campus have integrated sustainability into their work and collaborated with the CUES to highlight University successes,” Jamie Valentine, Assistant Director of CUES, said.
Butler has made several notable improvements toward sustainability since the 2018 application was filed, leading to this year’s Silver rating. Among those improvements, are:
- The Butler University Sustainability & Climate Action Plan (BUSCA), serving as a roadmap that unifies disciplines in the campus community to create holistic, sustainable change, identified more than 70 initiatives, and 36 of those were completed prior to the most recent STARS submission.
- Guides and support for faculty to incorporate sustainability learning outcomes into classes.
- Increase in faculty- and staff-supported student internships and class projects that use the University as a Living Lab, where students utilize real-world data from campus to understand and solve campus sustainability challenges.
- An Open Access Policy and Digital Commons were developed by the Libraries, providing an open access repository dedicated to preserving and increasing access to the University’s intellectual and creative output.
- A sustainability literacy and sustainability culture assessment survey were administered for the entire Butler community.
To increase impact and further integrate sustainability into academics, campus operations, and planning, the CUES office has recently moved under the purview of the Office of the Provost. “Sustainability is the responsibility of each and every one of us on campus and in our communities,” Dr. Julia Angstmann, Director of the Center for Urban Ecology, said. “The CUES’ recent move to the Office of the Provost enables sustainability professionals in the CUES to better serve and support Butler faculty, staff, and student-led initiatives to continue to advance campus sustainability.”
Valentine says there are several actions that students, faculty and staff can implement that will make an impact on Butler’s sustainability efforts:
- Advocate for the sustainable change you want to see on campus: greenhouse gas reductions, clean energy procurement, divesting Butler’s investments from fossil fuels, etc.
- Incorporate sustainability learning outcomes into classes. The CUES have sustainability pedagogy guides to assist in the development process.
- Become a Green Office and participate in sustainability initiatives with colleagues.
- Take a sustainability class, intern with the CUES or a community organization doing sustainability or environmental justice work, or join a sustainability club on campus.
CUES will submit its next application to AASHE in 2024. The goal is to eventually earn a Gold or Platinum rating.
“To date, we have made much progress focusing on curricular and co-curricular initiatives,” Dr. Angstmann said. “Yet, our next goal of a STARS gold rating requires an extensive reimagining of how we use and conserve campus resources and an institutional investment in building energy efficiency and conservation.”