Colorado State University ranks as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index

An aerial shot of Braiden Hall at Colorado State University, which features solar panels atop the residence hall. Photo by Joe Mendoza/CSU Photos

Colorado State University once again was recognized as one of the country’s most sustainable academic institutions by one of the leading sustainability organizations in higher education.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education ranked CSU as its top overall performer in the category of Doctoral Institutions in its annual Sustainable Campus Index, besting Stanford University and Cornell University, among others. CSU also earned the top overall ranking in the category of Curriculum, with a perfect score.

The Sustainability Campus Index recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 categorical impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, also known as STARS.

Hundreds of colleges and universities participate in STARS, a voluntary framework to measure, report and strengthen contributions to global sustainability.

CSU Sustainable Campus Index scores

Doctoral Institutions: first place; 88.1% score

Curriculum: first place; 100% score

Public Engagement: third place; 96.6% score

Campus Engagement: fifth place (tie); 98.8% score

Wellbeing & Work: fifth place; 81.7% score

Research: sixth place; 100% score

Investment & Finance: eighth place (tie); 70% score

Coordination & Planning: ninth place (tie); 96.9% score

In all, CSU was recognized in eight of the 17 impact areas. In addition to the Doctoral Institutions and Curriculum categories, CSU received high rankings in Campus Engagement, Coordination & Planning, Investment & Finance, Public Engagement, Research, and Wellbeing & Work.

“Sustainability is in our DNA at Colorado State University,” said President Joyce McConnell. “As a land-grant institution, we are committed to conserving our natural world through our research, teaching and engagement across the state and around the globe. This recognition from AASHE is a testament to the incredible efforts of our entire University community, especially the members of our Sustainability Commission, our Student Sustainability Center and the faculty and staff affiliated with CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability.”

The 2020 Sustainability Campus Index report spotlighted several CSU initiatives, including the stream ecology course at the Mountain Campus and the Eco Leaders Program through Housing & Dining Services. The report also highlighted the Rams Against Hunger Food Recovery program, which aims to recover catered consumable food for distribution to food-insecure community members.

Tonie Miyamoto, who co-chairs the President’s Sustainability Commission with Carol Dollard, said this year’s Sustainability Campus Index results reflect CSU’s commitment to continually improving its already strong reputation as a sustainable campus and community.

“CSU was recognized for the first time this year in the Investment & Finance category,” she said. “Just a few years ago this was an area of improvement for us, and the CSU Foundation has made incredible progress through their commitment to sustainable investments.”

Miyamoto explained that this type of continued dedication to forward progress is what helps CSU remain a top performer year after year.

Sustainability milestones

Students participate in a stream ecology course at the CSU Mountain Campus, and Eco Leaders and Dining Services serve Colorado harvest dishes made with local ingredients to students in the Corbett Hall community kitchen.

In the past several years, CSU has regularly earned high rankings in the Sustainability Campus Index. In 2019, CSU achieved the highest spot in the impact area of Public Engagement and garnered top-10 recognition in six other areas. 

In 2020, CSU continued to rack up sustainability accolades.

In February 2020, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education rated CSU at its highest level – Platinum – for a record third time in its STARS report. The independent program measures comprehensive sustainability efforts at 990 universities around the world.

CSU is the only institution in the world to receive the STARS Platinum rating three times and currently has the highest score in the United States.

More recently, CSU was named one of the nation’s most sustainable higher education institutions by the Sierra Club’s official magazine for the seventh consecutive year.

CSU also was named to The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, one of only 30 schools to receive the distinction, which recognizes an institution’s environmental awareness, preparedness and performance.

Learn more

Find out more about CSU’s “State of Sustainability,” from academics and research to operations and outreach, by visiting