New York University has received a STARS Gold Rating in recognition of their sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is a new program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
NYU President John Sexton said, “It is an honor for NYU to receive a Gold Rating for its sustainability efforts, but perhaps not a surprise: seldom have I seen an initiative unite and motivate our campus more than our green efforts. From declines in electrical consumption to increases in recycling, from our new co-gen plant’s reductions in greenhouse emissions to expansion of bicycle riding, the commitment to meeting the challenges of climate change is not only an institutional priority at NYU, but a widespread and very personal one as well.”
NYU has been deeply involved in STARS since the system was first proposed, having carried out internal institution-wide environmental assessment efforts since 2005. The university participated as a STARS Pilot Program member soon after becoming a charter and leadership circle member of the ACUPCC, launching a NYU Sustainability Task Force, and setting in motion a host of green initiatives on campus including:
· Achieving a reduction in carbon emissions by more than 40%--seven years before the committed completion date of 2017 – as part of the NYC Mayoral Challenge;
· Producing a comprehensive Climate Action Plan, NYU’s commitment to sustainability with the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040;
· Renovating the cogeneration power plant: The new cogen plant produces twice the power and reduces greenhouse gas emission by 23%, in addition to avoiding the combustion of 500,000 gallons of fuel oil and 280,000 therms of natural gas per year;
· Creating NYUnplugged, an annual student energy-saving challenge which, last fall helped save tens of thousands of kilowatt-hours of electricity;
· Instituting a campus-wide Mixed Recycling program and enhancing NYU’s e-waste technoscrap program;
· Striving for local, organic, and Fair Trade certifications for food served in dining halls and catered events, with nearly 1/3 of all expenditures on food sourced within 250 miles;
· Implementing the NYU Bike Share Program--the first free bicycle-sharing program in New York City;
· Upgrading NYU’s Bus Fleet by phasing out diesel-powered buses and replacing them with hybrid electric buses.
NYU is committed to high standards of excellence in environmental reporting, and helped to draft the "Open Letter to Sustainability Evaluating Organizations," which established clear expectations from the higher education community for rating systems' quality and fairness going forward. More than 75 institutions have since signed the letter.
AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: 1) education & research, 2) operations, and 3) planning, administration & engagement.
NYU's received the highest score in the Operations area of any rated institution to date.
"We're pleased to be recognized for the strong effort we've put in to reduce NYU's environmental footprint, including cutting NYU's greenhouse gas emissions 40% over a four-year period", said Cecil Scheib, Director of Energy and Sustainability. "We look forward to improving our rating in the future as we not just reduce our impact, but also set and achieve environmental performance goals."
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “NYU has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS Rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.
“STARS is the most comprehensive, transparent, and flexible framework for measuring the performance and documenting the steps taken to transform higher education into a sustainable sector of society,” said Jeremy Friedman, NYU’s manager of sustainability. We are very proud to have achieved a STARS Gold Rating for our sustainability accomplishments. NYU will continue to aspire to serve as an exemplar and a leader in the movement for sustainability in higher education.”
About New York University:
Founded in 1831, New York University is the largest private university in the United States. The University, which is composed of 14 schools, colleges, and divisions, occupies five major centers in Manhattan. It operates branch campus and research programs in other parts of the United States and abroad, as well as study abroad programs in more than 25 countries. New York University is also one of the largest employers in New York City, with over 16,000 employees.
Contact: Paul Rowland, Executive Director
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.
For more information about the STARS program, visit stars.aashe.org.