Hope College has earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. Hope had previously held a Bronze rating since 2012.
With more than 800 participants on six continents, 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 academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said Meghan Fay Zahniser, executive director of AASHE. “Hope College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.
The ratings are at four different levels: Bronze at 25 percent, Silver at 45 percent, Gold at 65 percent and Platinum at 85 percent. Hope’s overall score is 48.64 percent. The college’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website at:
Sustainability is an ongoing process at Hope that includes not only individual and departmental efforts but the coordinating work of a Sustainability Advisory Committee, known as the “Green Team,” comprised of faculty, administrators and students.
“Our Green Team is very excited that we have moved into the STARS Silver Certification,” said Michelle Gibbs, director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, which is based at the college. “The team used our previous report as a tool to see where we could make improvements for the future. We know there are still areas we can improve upon, but we are pleased to see sustainability integrating into our culture on campus.”
“We believe the Christian faith calls us to care for all of God’s creation and ensure preservation for generations to come,” Gibbs said. “Sustainability is an interdisciplinary matter, and we appreciate the support received from departments all over campus to collect information for this report. We have great student leaders working with us to educate our campus community on the importance of sustainability and they have helped to created videos, social media materials, events, and informational tables to bring awareness to various topics of sustainability. It is through our daily actions that each of us can make a big impact and help create a better world for every individual, as one created and loved by God.”
Activities and practices at the college have ranged from green purchasing policies, increased recycling and trayless dining to reduce food waste; to replacing residence halls’ windows with better-insulated models and adding insulation to the cottages’ attics; to the creation of academic minors in both environmental science and environmental studies. The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts earned LEED Silver certification earlier this year; in 2015 Hope College Dining received Gold-level recognition in the SEED sustainability program of Creative Dining Services; and Hope received statewide recognition for its environmental stewardship through its grounds management practices with certification from the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program in 2014.
The college has been a partner in the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, along with the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works, since the initiative was established in 2014. Hope is also among the institutions that have signed the international Talloires Declaration, a 10-point plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations, and outreach at colleges and universities. Hope has also partnered with Albion College, Antioch College, DePauw University and Oberlin College in the Great Lakes Colleges Association-supported Environmental Dashboard Project focused on enhancing sustainability initiatives at the five institutions through collaboration and the use of new technology.
More information about sustainability efforts at Hope and in the area is available at hope.edu/sustainability.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. More information about AASHE is available at aashe.org.