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ODU Strengthens Commitment to Sustainability Efforts on Campus

Old Dominion University recently elevated its commitment to sustainability on campus by becoming a registered STARS charter participant.

A program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, better known as STARS, is a self-assessment tool used by institutions of higher education to measure their sustainability progress. "This program will give us a tremendous ability to track where we are and where we need to be," said Bob Fenning, vice president for administration and finance.

AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations.

Krista L. Harrell-Blair, sustainability intern for STARS in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, will be leading the university's efforts. "STARS will help our institution set and meet sustainability goals while fostering collaboration and information-sharing across our campus," she said. "STARS will also enable our institution to benchmark with peers."

Participating in STARS requires a substantial amount of data collection in three main categories: Education & Research, Operations, and Planning, Administration and Engagement. As the STARS liaison for the university, Harrell-Blair will head up data collection efforts on campus this semester.

"I look forward to collaborating with the campus community during the data collection process for STARS and will be in touch soon with many of you for more information," she said.

The program includes credits related to an institution's environmental, social and economic performance. STARS is designed to:

• Provide a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education.

• Enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements developed with broad participation from the campus sustainability community.

• Create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability.

• Facilitate information sharing about higher education sustainability practices and performance.

• Build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.

Those who are interested in reviewing the credits in advance can download the STARS 1.0 Technical Manual, http://www.aashe.org/files/STARS_1.0_Technical_Manual_Admin_Update_2.pdf, which outlines all of the individual STARS credits for which data will be collected. Information is also available at the STARS website, https://stars.aashe.org.

For more information about ODU's participation in the program, or to assist in the endeavor, contact Harrell-Blair at kharrell@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: January 29, 2011

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