Campus Community

Gold Star

Written by Mike Thee

June 5, 2018

SU campus in the Spring

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SU's sustainability efforts have earned high marks in a leading national rating system.

Seattle University has earned a STARS Gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. 

SU’s STARS score of 75.64 is up from 69.41 in 2016, when it also earned a Gold rating. The university’s 2018 score places it second among participating Jesuit institutions—Santa Clara earned a score of 76.21. 

The university’s score puts it within 10 points of achieving STARS’ highest rating, platinum. Only four institutions are rated at this level: Colorado State, Stanford, New Hampshire and UC Irvine. 

With more than 900 participants in 30 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. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration and 5) innovation and leadership. 

“Seattle University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. 

“The STARS report will help the President’s Committee for Sustainability identify areas of improvement and develop a campus sustainability strategy over the summer,” said Phil Thompson, director of Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, which is charged with gathering and reporting the data for STARS. “I’m looking forward to refining the strategy in the fall with students, staff and faculty and becoming the first Jesuit university to achieve a platinum rating.” 

Seattle University has decreased its carbon emissions by 10 percent since 2009. In academics, sustainability is promoted through 10 sustainability-focused degree programs, more than 300 sustainability-related courses and 80 faculty members who are engaged in sustainability research. 

Other noteworthy practices are the university’s organic landscape management practices; increased waste diversion rate; the use of the university as a “living laboratory;” its extensive community partnerships in the field of sustainability; and the high percentage of students (62 percent) engaged in community service. 

The university’s move last year to an electronic procurement system has also contributed to greening the SU campus by reducing paper usage and decreasing the number of delivery trucks on campus. Recent water conservation projects on campus led to a 9 percent reduction in potable water use per campus user since 2009. 

Click here to view the full STARS report. 

To learn more about SU’s sustainability efforts, visit

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