GVSU earns gold ranking for sustainability

By Ellie Phillips | 3/10/13 6:51pm

Grand Valley State University achieved a Gold ranking with its latest submission to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS).

“This is a ranking that only 44 other universities throughout the nation (have received), which is definitely reason to celebrate,” said Jenny Jordan, graduate assistant with the GVSU Sustainable Community Development Initiative.

The university submitted an approximately 1,000-question report with three distinct categories: education and research, operations and planning, and administration and engagement.

“In order to effectively and efficiently answer all of these questions, we work with numerous faculty and staff from various academic and non-academic departments to collaboratively answer these questions,” Jordan said. “This is a huge achievement for the university.”

It is possible to receive a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating, though no institution has yet received a Platinum rating.

“The ratings have been established as a way for institutions to assess how sustainable they are,” said Bart Bartels, campus sustainability manager. “It is not meant to be a competition but rather a way to monitor improvement. STARS also creates an awareness about project ideas that some institutions may not have thought about. As more sustainable activities are taken on, improvement is made, environmental impact is reduced, and institutions move up in the rating system.”

GVSU has been involved in the program since its pilot year of 2009. It was one of 41 participants that year and was a Charter Participant when the program was formally instituted in 2010. GVSU earned a Silver rating in 2010 and 2011, and the 2012 data has brought GVSU into the Gold rating along with 44 other institutions.

GVSU currently reports on many categories in the assessment, but there are a few currently unreported.

“At this time we have not reported having any existing buildings that are LEED certified,” Bartels said. “Our LEED certifications are all from new construction or major remodeling projects.”

However, some of the areas GVSU does not currently report on are planned to be incorporated in the future.

“We did not report having a student run sustainable enterprise on campus, an ‘educate the educator’ program, or a sustainable themed housing unit,” Bartels said. “There are efforts in place to address all three of these categories before our next submission.”

A luncheon celebrating this achievement is scheduled to be held March 21.

To view the AASHE STARS submission, visit www.stars.aashe.org/institutions/grand-valley-state-university-mi/report/2013-02-13/.

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