The STARS report is one of the key indicators we use to track success and progress in our sustainability programming, resources, and operations at DU. Tracking over 2,000 pieces of data, the STARS report covers all parts of campus – from Admissions to Alumni Engagement, Facilities Management to Human Resources. Such thorough data collection allows us to easily see that sustainability is not just the work of a few in specialized offices, but the work of everyone at DU, no matter your role or title. 

The STARS report is broken into five key categories, each covering an essential part of the university and looking at their contribution to a sustainable campus.  

  • Academics

    At its core, a university revolves around the academic experience it can deliver to students, and so this is the first place STARS looks to rate its sustainability offerings. This section is separated into two sub-sections: curriculum and research. 

    Curriculum: assesses topics like the number of sustainability-focused and sustainability-related courses on campus, the number of majors, minors, and graduate programs related to sustainability, core learning objectives related to sustainability, and other experiences offered to students. 

    Research: assesses how many research projects on campus are focused on or related to sustainability, as well as support and access related to funding and other resources for research. 

  • Engagement

    When students are not in the classroom, the university still provides rich and exciting opportunities for students to build community, find and pursue their passions, and learn in hands-on and experiential ways. STARS looks at how these engagement opportunities educate and involve students and staff alike around sustainability both on campus and with the wider public. 

    Campus Engagement: assesses resources and education opportunities during such activities as student orientation and new staff orientation, as well as the existence of staff development opportunities, peer education programs for students and staff, and studies that investigate the campus culture around sustainability.  

    Public Engagement: assesses the degree to which the university engages with other universities, community partners, and public policy conversations. This section also looks at continuing education opportunities for community members as well as campus participation in community service. 

  • Operations

    The energy and resources used to run a university campus every day are not always visible but are key indicators of whether the university is pursuing a sustainable infrastructure to support its programming. STARS assesses many aspects of campus operations, looking at nine different sub-categories from food service and waste practices to energy use, the built environment, and water consumption. 

    Air and Climate: assesses whether the university conducts a carbon emissions inventory and gives credit to decreases in carbon emissions over time. 

    Buildings: assesses adherence to LEED standards to buildings on campus and how buildings are operated and managed from a facilities point of view. 

    Energy: assesses how much clean and renewable energy the campus uses, as well as the energy efficiency with which buildings on campus operate day-to-day. 

    Food and Dining: assesses where, how, and what kinds of food are purchased for the university and to what degree those foods are sustainable. 

    Grounds: assesses how the university approaches managing the landscape on campus and tracks the biodiversity represented in plantings and habitats for animals. 

    Purchasing: assesses guidelines in place by the university to guide purchasing of electronics, cleaning supplies, paper, and more general purchasing practices. 

    Transportation: assesses how many members of the campus community get to campus without use of a single occupancy vehicle, the makeup of the campus fleet, and what support exists to make sustainable commuting choices more accessible. 

    Waste: assesses how much of the campus waste generated is diverted away from landfills to be either composted or recycled, and general practices around disposal of construction waste and hazardous waste materials. 

    Water: assesses how much water is used on campus both indoors and outdoors, as well as the existence of a rainwater management plan for campus. 

  • Planning and Administration

    This section explores some of the aspects of sustainability that go beyond work, offices, and efforts that have the word “sustainability” in their names, rather looking at equity, access, and well-being within the campus community. A community, campus, or society cannot be sustainable if it is not also a just and equitable place where all can thrive and be treated with dignity.  

    Coordination and Planning: assesses the degree to which members of the campus community come together to collaborate and make space for sustainability to thrive in all parts of campus, who is invited to the table to make decisions, and to whom these decisions are reported. 

    Diversity and Affordability: assesses the degree to which members of the campus community come together to collaborate and make space for diversity and equity to thrive in all parts of campus, whether and how diversity is assessed, what resources and supports exist for underrepresented members of the community, and how affordable the campus is for underrepresented and under-resourced students. 

    Investment and Finance: assesses where and how the university invests its endowment, how public that information is, and whether the university has made a commitment to invest in sustainable, responsible, and ethical portfolios.  

    Wellbeing and Work: assesses whether university staff and faculty receive fair compensation, employee satisfaction with the university, the existence and use of staff and student wellness programs, and guidelines for health and safety at work for staff. 

  • Innovation

    As campus sustainability programs grow and mature, they face problems and create solutions that are unique to their circumstances, create programs that are deeply place-based, and go above and beyond the listed criteria for other STARS credits. This section allows campuses to highlight these unique and creative solutions to receive bonus points on their report.