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UNI awarded STARS Gold rating for national assessment of sustainability efforts

March 15, 2011

Thomas Schellhardt, UNI vice president of administration & financial services, 319-273-2382,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa has received a gold ranking by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for its environmental focus through the use of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).

STARS is the most comprehensive, transparent and meaningful framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability. It is designed to provide a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education. STARS offers bronze, silver, gold and platinum ratings. No institutions have received a rating higher than gold.

Some of UNI's achievements that were mentioned with the gold rating are its offering of more than 190 courses related to sustainability, 25 percent of campus dinning center food purchased locally, and the diversion of 9461.61 tons of materials from the landfill during the last year. Additionally, students conducted more than 307,000 hours of community service.

Eric O'Brien, sustainability coordinator at UNI, says receiving the gold ranking is an honor and notable accomplishment. "Our gold rating validates and recognizes the dedication and leadership by our entire campus to engage actively in conservation and sustainability efforts. The STARS program and rating provides our benchmark and gives us opportunity to determine where we want to improve as a campus in the future."

Gloria Gibson, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, was very pleased with the rating. "The University has been involved in energy and environmental conservation and outreach efforts for years. The gold rating recognizes UNI's collective efforts to attain a strong foundation as our university community continues to reach the highest STARS level of a platinum rating.”  

There are 250 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, including five in Iowa that are enrolled in STARS. UNI is the only university in the Midwest to receive a gold rating.

For more information, contact Thomas Schellhardt at 319-273-2382.