Paul Smith’s College has earned a STARS Bronze rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for its sustainability achievements. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
The STARS program, which has more than 800 participants in 30 countries, is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting information related to a college’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.
Kate Glenn, sustainability coordinator and lecturer at Paul Smith’s, said that the college performed especially well in curriculum, which tracks sustainability-specific courses such as Sustainable Food Systems, Alternative Energy, and Sustainable Development. Glenn also noted that every department on campus offers courses that have sustainability-related objectives.
“Another area we excelled in was campus engagement,” added Glenn, “including campus outreach, sustainability student employment opportunities, and campus programming that includes guest speakers and trips.”
The college’s Sustainability Grant Program, which provides funds for faculty, staff and students, also plays a role though backing a wide variety of projects. Meanwhile, energy initiatives announced earlier this year include the installation of a wood pellet boiler that has offset 28,000 gallons of oil annually and a partnership with Northern Power & Light and the Northern Forest Center’s Feel Good Heat Initiative, which focuses on locally-sourced wood fuel. Paul Smith’s also signed on with Northern Power & Light, a Saranac Lake-based company with a hydroelectric facility in nearby St. Regis Falls.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Paul Smith’s College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Bronze rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
Glenn said a goal for next year is STARS Silver. Planned efforts include expanding sustainability efforts in the areas of energy, food and dining, grounds, and transportation. Two students will also work as Sustainability Fellows, an employment opportunity geared toward furthering the college’s sustainability goals.
“Paul Smith’s College is committed to being a model for sustainability in our region,” Glenn said. “In addition to lowering our carbon footprint, we want to strive to practice sustainability across all aspects of our institution.”
About Paul Smith’s College
At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. We are the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information, visit www.paulsmiths.edu.
AASHE 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. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.
For more information about the STARS program, visit stars.aashe.org.