Repeat Gold: Campus Meets Challenge of Revised Sustainability Rating System

Students gather around a table.
Tabling event outside the Memorial Union offers information on the Aggie Green Pledge, a program designed to encourage sustainable actions on campus.

UC Davis has earned a renewed gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, or STARS. This time around, the campus measured up to significantly revised criteria, including additional, challenging performance metrics.


The Office of Sustainability will host a STARS Town Hall for faculty, staff and students, from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday, July 30, to share more information and celebrate the rating with campus partners who were critical to the reporting effort. Please register here for the online program.

STARS, a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, assesses sustainability across environmental, social and economic dimensions in four categories: academic, operations, engagement, and planning and administration. Nearly 450 colleges and universities around the world are active participants in STARS.

UC Davis, in becoming the first UC to be rated under the new criteria, received an overall score of 74.67 percent. The campus scored 15 credits in a bonus category for innovation and leadership, in such categories as nitrogen footprint, fair trade campus, green laboratory program, and diversity and equity recognition. See the STARS evaluation of UC Davis.

“STARS is considered the most comprehensive sustainability assessment tool in higher education,” said Camille Kirk, director of sustainability and campus sustainability planner. “We are really pleased to see that UC Davis maintains a gold rating, and anticipate using this assessment to drive campus sustainability forward to new achievements.”

Kirk announced the STARS rating during the campus’s second annual Sustainability Summit. See separate story.

What’s next?

STARS gold seal

Kirk and others are reviewing the STARS report to identify areas for improvement and to help guide other sustainability efforts.

The Office of Sustainability also continues to collaborate with UC Davis Global Affairs with an eye toward meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which seek to address global economic, social and environmental challenges including poverty, hunger, climate change and inequalities.

“The SDGs speak deeply to UC Davis values and strengths as a campus, and are relevant locally as well as globally,” said Jolynn Shoemaker, director of global engagements, Global Affairs. “Global Affairs conducted a survey of UC Davis faculty that showed our campus is supporting the SDG agenda across all 17 goals, both in the U.S. and in other countries around the world.”

‘Sustainable future for all’

Completing a university STARS report is a massive, complex undertaking. Kelli O’Day, who joined the Office of Sustainability as its assessment program manager in January, led the project from initial collection of metrics across the Davis campus to evaluation and report development.

Formerly sustainability coordinator for the ASUCD Coffee House, O’Day wasn’t new to sustainability reporting when she began her work on STARS, but has since gained a more holistic view and appreciation of the university’s commitment to sustainable practices, leadership and innovation.

“I knew a lot about one small part — the food portion — but now I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in everything from water to planning and administration,” O’Day said. “I'm so proud of all that UC Davis does and supports to secure a sustainable future for all.”

STARS on video

If you missed the STARS summary presented at the Sustainability Summit, you can watch it here (starts at 1:13:27).

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Kristin Burns, Finance, Operations and Administration,

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