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UMD Earns Gold STAR Rating

UMD campus with double rainbow in the sky
January 29, 2020

UMD earned a Gold ranking in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's STARS program.

The wait is over. After months of preparing reports and filling out the application, UMD has earned a gold rating for campus sustainability. The STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) Assessment is used internationally by colleges and universities. The program helps colleges and universities track their sustainability measures, progress, and performance by rating them. Colleges and universities submit sustainability reports in five categories, including: academics, engagement, operations, planning & administration and innovation & leadership. More points brings a higher rating status: 

  • Reporter Designation: No minimum score, achieved by submitting an assessment
  • Bronze Rating: Needs a minimal overall score of 25
  • Silver Rating: Needs a minimal score of 45
  • Gold Rating: Needs a minimal score of 65 (UMD earned 66 points in 2019)
  • Platinum Rating: Needs a minimal score of 85

The hard work of many people across campus has paid off as we now earned a Gold Rating. UMD was one of only 128 other campuses across the nation and world to earn a Gold Rating. UMD initially benchmarked itself at the Bronze level in 2011, then moved to a Silver Rating in 2016. 

How did we make a difference to get to Gold? Some of the big ones are:

  • UMD faculty increased sustainability integration in courses and research
  • the campus dedicated itself to low-waste efforts (establishing campus-wide composting, food waste awareness events, and re-use through the UMD Free Store)
  • energy conservation and efficiency (reducing carbon emissions nearly 12% despite significant campus growth, an internal green revolving fund to lower energy use)
  • renewable energy expansion (from 11 kW to over 100 on campus, and 100 kW of off-campus solar)
  • adopting sustainable operational policies
  • providing sustainable transportation options
  • and engaging our students to Take Action and get involved in sustainability projects, research, and clubs!

Dr. Julie Etterson and Environmental Education graduate student Ashyln Teather helped collect information about sustainability courses and research opportunities on campus. Dr. Etterson states that our recent gold ranking “will alert the academic community, including prospective students, about our core values to sustain a world where both people and the planet thrive.”

The UMD Office of Sustainability worked to gather data from across campus to improve our score.  “Because STARS measures our campus progress in so many different sectors of sustainability, it demonstrates how many people truly work on this issue across campus. Truly, it’s part of everyone’s job." said Mindy Granley, Sustainability director at UMD. "Everyone contributes in their own way: from teaching and research, to housing programs, dining’s low-waste choices, energy efficiency, solar expansion, custodial green cleaning standards, and so much more. The Gold rating belongs to all of UMD, not just our office. We’re proud of the collaborations that make sustainability happen on campus.”

Learn more about UMD's Office of Sustainability.

Gold Stars Rating