Colorado State University a top performer in 2017 Sustainable Campus Index

CSU continues to expand compost efforts on campus. The program is designed to be self-sustaining, eventually, by selling the end product. Video by Brian Buss

Colorado State University has been recognized as a top performer in the 2017 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving the highest spot in public engagement, tying for first place in research, and ranking second in diversity and affordability.

The 2017 Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, highlights top-performing colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, also known as STARS.

Among the highlights, CSU also tied for second place in campus engagement and stood in fourth place in the categories of curriculum; water, encompassing conservation, recycling and reuse; and coordination and planning (tied with three other universities).

“This is great recognition of the incredible work done by our faculty and students to intentionally include aspects of sustainability into the many different things we do at Colorado State,” said Rick Miranda, CSU’s provost and executive vice president. “It is critical that we not only research how to make a more sustainable world, but also that we teach others these critical lessons – and strive to operate our campus in a sustainable way, as an example to all.”

In public engagement, the Education and Outreach Center at CSU’s College of Natural Sciences was highlighted for its work with the National Park Service to develop STEM kits for 4-12 grade students. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.) The kits allow students visiting parks in Alaska to learn more about climate change through ice cores and permafrost.

“Being recognized as a top performer in seven different categories ranging from curriculum to research, and from engagement to diversity, demonstrates CSU’s broad and deep commitment to sustainability across campus,” said Tonie Miyamoto, co-chair for the President’s Sustainability Commission and director of communications and sustainability for Housing & Dining Services. “Our students, faculty, and staff should be very proud of this achievement.”

Green and gold

CSU was ranked no. 8 on The Princeton Review‘s “Top 50 Green Colleges” list for 2017. Students told the publication that they really appreciate CSU’s commitment to sustainability. In describing campus life, students said there are many “opportunities from volunteer cleanups to hiking and fishing along the Poudre River.” And, of course, “you have the Rocky Mountains at your doorstep.”

Sierra magazine also lauded CSU for its sustainability efforts. The university was ranked 11 on its Cool Schools 2017 list, and was singled out for diverting 93 percent of food waste through composting in dining centers, the option for students to declare sustainability-related majors and minors in every college, and for its LEED-certified buildings.

CSU is the first university in the world to have its sustainability efforts go Platinum. Earlier this year, CSU achieved the highest possible STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for the second time.

“Colorado State University’s inclusion in this report shows its significant leadership and commitment to advance sustainability,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We recognize CSU for working to secure a thriving, equitable and ecologically healthy world through its comprehensive sustainability efforts.”

Colorado State University’s STARS report is publicly available.