Claremont, Calif. (January 25, 2016)—Pitzer College has earned a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for its long-term and widespread sustainability practices. The association’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) measures sustainability achievements in all aspects of higher education.
This marks the first time Pitzer has participated in STARS. Pitzer’s Sustainability Office worked with the College’s Sustainability Committee and every office on campus to compile copious, comprehensive data related to sustainability at Pitzer.
“STARS provides a snapshot of where we are on our path toward sustainability as an institution,” said Warren Biggins, Pitzer’s sustainability manager. “Earning a gold rating on our first submission means we’ve been living our core value of environmental sustainability.”
Higher education institutions participating in STARS report information in four areas: operations, academics, engagement and planning/administration. Pitzer earned 66.85 out of a possible 100 points. Pitzer also earned a perfect score for innovation—credits given for new and groundbreaking practices and performances. Pitzer’s entire STARS scorecard can be viewed online.
One of the first colleges in the country to launch an environmental studies program in the 1970s, Pitzer has promoted, and practiced, environmental awareness for nearly 50 years. In April 2014, Pitzer announced its Fossil Fuel Divestment-Climate Action Model and became the first college in Southern California to divest almost all of its endowment of fossil fuel stocks. In 2012, Pitzer opened four mixed-use residential buildings that earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the US Green Building Council’s highest rating. That same year, the College launched the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability.
Pitzer was also a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (now known as the Carbon Commitment)—an agreement that calls for participating institutions to become climate neutral by 2050. Last November, Interim President Thomas Poon signed the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, making Pitzer one of 217 universities and colleges pledging “to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus.”
Pitzer’s Sustainability Committee, an advisory group that includes student, faculty and staff representatives, is working with the Sustainability Office and offices across campus to evaluate the data compiled for the STARS program.
“It’s a roadmap that’s going to help direct us in our efforts moving forward,” Biggins said. “We can see what we’re doing well and concrete steps we can take to improve.”
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education 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. AASHE’s STARS program aims to provide a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education and enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions.