NYU Gold STARS rating places it among the top 30% of universities nationwide.


As the nation marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, NYU today announced it has officially received a Gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS), conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). NYU’s STARS Gold score ranks NYU in the top 30% of certified institutions, and ahead of many urban peer universities, including Columbia, Boston University, University of Pennsylvania, and the New School.

With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. NYU was a charter participant in AASHE’s STARS program and first received STARS Gold in 2011.

NYU Graphic on Sustainability ratings vis a vis other urban universities

“The STARS rating system has become more aggressive and wide-reaching over time, so NYU’s score improvement since 2011 and maintaining our Gold status reflects the significant strides we have made over the past decade,” said Cecil Scheib, NYU Chief Sustainability Officer.

Below are some highlights of the 2020 STARS report:


  • Green Commuters: NYU’s transportation score is the 4th best of the 323 certified institutions, due to the number of NYU community members who take public transportation or walk to campus in addition to NYU’s numerous transportation programs, such as the shuttle bus system. 
  • Conscious Consumers: NYU’s impressive performance in Purchasing (in the 83rd percentile) is due to our Green Cleaning Policy, IT purchasing policies, and Supplier Diversity Initiative.
  • Green Thumb: NYU achieved all available points on the Landscape Management credit due to NYU’s organic land care standards maintained on its 11 acres of managed grounds.


  • NYU obtained close to 85% of the available points in the Diversity & Affordability subcategory. This is due, in large part, to the many programs run by the Office of Global Inclusion (including the Being@NYU survey and resulting actions) and NYU’s Affordability initiatives. NYU performed better than 80% of institutions on the credit Affordability and Access, which awards points for policies and programs that make NYU more affordable and accessible and support non-traditional students. It also awards points for the relative proportion and graduation rate for students from low-income backgrounds.
  • NYU achieved significant points in Campus Engagement due to the numerous programs focused on orienting new staff and students to sustainability initiatives on campus. 
  • NYU captured the majority of points in the Public Engagement category and scored better than 81% of schools due to the array of sustainability networks we participate in including the NYC Carbon Challenge, Urban Green Council, and Menus of Change. We also gained points in this category for NYU’s role in advocating for sustainability advancement in local and state policy.


  • NYU scored high (79%) in the category of sustainability research conducted on its campuses, encompassing a wide array of multidisciplinary projects, including:
    • Using data science and machine learning to identify patterns in NYC building energy use at the Tandon School of Engineering Center for Data Science;
    • Researching the availability and impacts of drinking water fountains in NYC public schools through a joint project with the Steinhardt and Wagner schools; and
    • Studying relational perspectives on environmental justice.

“Every area of campus made this achievement possible, from our administrators who track data on energy use and purchasing, to our researchers who explore solutions; from our faculty who educate on sustainability topics to our students who pursue innovative ideas and build a sustainable future,” Scheib added.

The statistics and rankings referenced in this article are based on available data as of April 16, 2020. For more information, check out the full STARS report here.


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Shonna Keogan
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