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Regents universities participate in sustainability rating system

September 14, 2012

Mary Rankin, director, Iowa State University Office of Sustainability, 515-294-5052,

Liz Christiansen, director, University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, 319-335-5516,

Eric O'Brien, coordinator, University of Northern Iowa Office of Sustainability, 319-273-7207,

Paul Rowland, executive director, AASHE, 720-346-1432,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Iowa's three Regent universities today announced participation in a unique program to encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The program, called the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

To date, more than 200 higher education institutions have registered as STARS Participants. Iowa State University and the University of Iowa recently enrolled in the program and the University of Northern Iowa, one of the nation's first participating schools, recently re-enrolled.

"We're looking forward to participating in STARS. Not only will this effort provide a forum for reporting our schools' sustainability progress, we're looking forward to sharing all the great work that's being done on our campuses," said Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability.

AASHE's STARS program involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: 1) education & research, 2) operations, and 3) planning, administration & engagement. All of the requirements for evaluating and scoring institutions are transparent and made publicly available. Points are earned in each category and lead to a STARS Rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. Participating in STARS, which includes gathering extensive data and sharing it publicly, represents a significant commitment to sustainability.

"As a charter STARS participant and one of the first schools in the nation to achieve a gold rating, we've used the program to validate our efforts and as a platform for our continued progress," said Eric O'Brien, coordinator of the UNI Office of Sustainability.

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada, 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.

"We are looking forward to the enthusiastic participation from our students and staff, as well as watching our sustainability efforts grow on campus through the STARS program," said Merry Rankin, director of the Iowa Sate University Office of Sustainability.


About Iowa's Regent Universities:


The University of Northern Iowa is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It offers more than 90 majors across five colleges. UNI provides a high-quality and diverse educational experience, purposefully guiding students to find and develop their strengths and prepare them for success after college. Building on its historic excellence in teacher education, UNI has developed outstanding programs in business, natural sciences, humanities and fine arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Advanced degrees are available in many programs.


The University of Iowa is a major national research university located on a 1,900 acre campus in Iowa City in southeast Iowa, on the Iowa River near the intersection of U.S. Interstate Highways 80 and 380. Iowa is composed of 11 colleges, the largest of which is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, enrolling most of Iowa's undergraduates. The Henry B. Tippie College of Business, the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and the Colleges of Education, Engneering, Law, Nursing, and Pharmacy enroll undergraduates, and with the Colleges of Dentistry and Public Health provide graduate education in conjunction with the Graduate College.


Iowa State University, an international university with a friendly welcoming personality, is located in central Iowa, 35 miles north of Des Moines. Some 31,000 Iowa State students choose from 100 majors, study with world-class scholars and hone leadership skills in more than 800 student organizations. Research breakthroughs at Iowa State are in the areas of human, social, economic, and environmental sustainability; new materials and processes for biomedical and industrial applications; nutrition, health, and wellness for humans and animals; transportation and infrastructure; food safety and security; plant and animal sciences; information and decision sciences; and renewable energies.


About AASHE:

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. For more information about AASHE, visit

For more information about the STARS program, visit