June 16, 2023 - Commitment to the roughly 1,600 trees on the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus has earned the University a Tree Campus USA designation for the 11th year in a row.

In addition, CSUCI’s rigorous sustainability practices have earned the University Gold status under STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

“The STARS report looks at every corner of the campus,” said CSUCI Sustainability & Energy Director Roxane Beigel-Coryell. “It includes academics, building and operations, diversity and equity, investment and student engagement.”

The most common definition of sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

STARS standards include sustainability practices such as low water use, solar power, and green building, but also measures standards in terms of how much students and the campus are involved in sustainability efforts and education, as well as the commitment the campus has to human diversity and equity—practices that ensure a healthy, sustainable campus population.

“They look at how many courses we teach that include sustainability,” Beigel-Coryell said. “How much of our research involves sustainability and how many students graduate with an emphasis in sustainability.”

CSUCI is one of 1,157 institutions across the nation registered to use the STARS Reporting Tool, of which 597 earned a STARS rating. CSUCI is one of 148 campuses nationwide to earn Gold status.

CSUCI first began participating in the STARS program in 2011, when the University earned Silver status. Starting from the bottom, the five tiers are: Reporter, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. In 2015, CSUCI graduated to Gold and has moved up within the Gold category ever since. The rating is good for three years, so this Gold award is good until May of 2026.

The STARS program also assesses sustainable landscaping practices and related certification programs, such as Tree Campus USA. CSUCI is one of 410 campuses across the nation and one of seven CSU campuses with a Tree Campus USA designation, which is awarded each year by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The designation recognizes campuses with a multi-faceted commitment to maintain a healthy tree canopy and create programs to make the tree population sustainable—something that benefits, animals, insects, and people.

“A healthy tree population creates a habitat for birds, bees, insects, owls, red-tailed hawks, squirrels and shade to help keep us cool and creates a beautiful environment for all of us,” Beigel-Coryell said.

With help from the campus community, CSUCI’s Facilities Services planted 20 trees this year in honor of CSUCI’s 20th anniversary.

“We planted Western redbud and Palo Verde flowering trees,” Beigel-Coryell said. “The Palo Verde has green bark and yellow buds and the Western redbud has pink blooms.”

The CSUCI campus is home to 90 different tree varieties, which are mostly drought tolerant, and the campus each year sets aside funding to care for the trees—a challenging task for Facilities Services with the changing climate.

Both designations should make the entire campus proud, Beigel-Coryell said, as it is a campus-wide commitment year after year.

“The exciting thing is how inclusive and broad sustainability is,” she said. “It takes everybody on campus to achieve something like this. It’s a win for all of us.”

To read about the Tree Campus USA designation and the STARS designation, visit: www.arborday.org/programs/tree-campus-higher-education


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