To earn credits in this category within the STARS framework, an institution would need to achieve progressively higher levels of performance in areas related to sustainability coordination and planning, affordability, human resources, investment, and public engagement.
This subcategory seeks to recognize colleges and universities that are institutionalizing sustainability by dedicating resources to sustainability coordination, incorporating sustainability into their primary campus plans, and developing plans to move towards sustainability. Staff and other resources help an institution organize, implement, and publicize sustainability initiatives. These resources provide the infrastructure that fosters sustainability within an institution. Strategic and physical campus plans guide an institution and its physical development. These important documents establish an institution’s priorities and influence budgeting and decision-making.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are working to advance diversity and affordability on campus. In order to build a sustainable society, diverse groups will need to be able to come together and work collaboratively to address sustainability challenges. People of color and low-income communities tend to suffer disproportionate exposure to environmental problems. This environmental injustice happens as a result of unequal and segregated communities. To achieve environmental and social justice, society must work to address discrimination and promote equality.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that have incorporated sustainability into their human resources programs and policies. This includes recognition for treating and remunerating their workers responsibly and fairly. An institution’s people define its character and capacity to perform; and so, an institution’s achievements can only be as strong as its community. An institution can bolster the strength of its community by making fair and responsible investments in its human capital. Such investments include offering benefits, wages, and other assistance that serve to respectfully and ethically compensate workers. Investment in human resources is integral to the achievement of a healthy and sustainable balance between human capital, natural capital, and financial capital.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that make investment decisions that promote sustainability. Most institutions invest some of their assets in order to generate income. Together, colleges and universities invest hundreds of billions of dollars. Schools with transparent and democratic investment processes promote accountability and engagement by the campus and community. Furthermore, institutions can support sustainability by investing in companies and funds that, in addition to providing a strong rate of return, are committed to social and environmental responsibility. Investing in these companies also supports the development of sustainable products and services. Finally, campuses can engage with the businesses in which they are invested in order to promote sustainable practices.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that give back to their communities through community service, engagement, and partnerships. Volunteerism and the sense of compassion that community service helps develop are fundamental to achieving sustainability. From tutoring children to removing invasive species to volunteering at a food bank, students can make tangible contributions that address sustainability challenges through community service. Community engagement can help students develop leadership skills while deepening their understandings of practical, real-world problems. Institutions can contribute to their communities by harnessing their financial and academic resources to address community needs.