College earns STARS Silver Rating for excellence in sustainability

SUNY New Paltz has retained a STARS Silver Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), in recognition of the College’s efforts to implement sustainable practices at all levels of campus life.

The honor places New Paltz among only 347 colleges and universities worldwide that have earned STARS ratings for sustainability. Of these, only 255 are rated at the Silver level or higher.

[Use this link to view the complete 2018 STARS report for SUNY New Paltz]

The STARS system relies on a comprehensive scoring rubric that uses four broad categories – Academics, Engagement, Operations and Planning & Administration – to measure an institution’s commitment to environmental responsibility, in and out of the classroom.

New Paltz first achieved a STARS rating in 2015. In applying for reassessment, the Office of Campus Sustainability documented significant gains across a number of measures.

Most notably, the College has made significant strides in the number of available academic courses that include sustainability content. The number of courses offered at SUNY New Paltz with sustainability content increased from 48 over a one-year period in 2015 to 111 over a two-year period ending in the spring of 2018. Currently 6.5 percent of all courses at SUNY New Paltz include sustainability in some way.

These gains go hand in hand with an increase in the incentives available for faculty interested in developing sustainability curricula. The founding of the Sustainability Faculty Learning Community in 2016 created opportunities for 15 academic and professional faculty each year to receive professional development training to integrate sustainability into their courses or programs.

The faculty also helped increase the College’s STARS score with increases in the amount of sustainability-focused research they conduct. The total number of faculty engaged in sustainability research increased from 24 to 36, and the number of departments with faculty conducting sustainability research increased from 14 to 20.

The new STARS rating also records a major uptick in the Campus Engagement category, due in large part to the 2016 establishment of a Sustainability Network of students, faculty and staff. A separate group of student Sustainability Ambassadors connects with new students to introduce them to sustainability activities and opportunities on and off campus.

New Paltz realized other gains in categories in the following categories:

  • Campus buildings, for meeting LEED certification;
  • Food and dining, for introducing sustainable dining policies, vegan options and local harvest meals;
  • Energy consumption, for implementing new conservation and efficiency technologies including photovoltaic arrays; and
  • Sustainable investment, for the SUNY New Paltz Foundation’s decision to remove endowment funds from direct investments in fossil fuel companies in 2017.

In all, New Paltz advanced from 46 STARS credits in 2015 to 53.76 in 2018. The threshold for advancing to Gold status is 65 credits.

Visit us online to learn more about Sustainability at SUNY New Paltz.

Please reference the STARS Technical Manual for an in-depth overview of the credits that contribute to the STARS rating system, and how they are scored.