Office of Sustainability

STARS: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System

HSU STARS Timeline

August 2012
Register for STARS through AASHE

Sept – Oct 2012
Orientation sessions for STARS Reporters

Sept – Dec 2012
Data entry to STARS online reporting tool

Dec – Feb 2013
Office of Sustainability will review STARS data

March - April 2013
Submit report to AASHE for rating

May 2013
Rating will be announced to the campus

August 2015
Do it all again to measure our progress

Link to printable Booklet on STARS

HSU's Rating and final STARS Report: click here


Humboldt State University is setting out to prove it’s serious about sustainability.  This fall 2012 semester, HSU kicks off a comprehensive sustainability assessment of all of its functions and facilities, using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Many staff, faculty and administration members will participate in this year-long reporting process and at the completion; Humboldt State will have a clear picture of its strengths in terms of being a sustainable institution, and areas where it can improve.

What is STARS?

What makes STARS different?

How does the STARS system work?

How can I help with campus sustainability?


What is STARS?

The STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.  This system was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with broad participation from diverse representatives of the higher education community.  

STARS is designed to:

  • Provide a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education, including curriculum, research, operations, administration and engagement.
  • Enable meaningful comparisons of sustainability performance over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements.
  • Create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability.
  • Build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.
  • Spark collaboration among institutions striving to increase sustainable practices and performance.


What makes STARS different?

AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a university’s sustainability performance. Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.  Since 2008 over 300 institutions have completed STARS.


How does the STARS system work?

  • STARS is broken into three sectors: Education & Research, Operations, and Planning, Administration & Engagement with each of these sectors broken down into over 100 credits that describe a specific metric, activity, or practice.   Individuals are selected from different departments and offices on campus to be Reporters for relevant credits and Humboldt State’s practices.
  • Reporters enter information they gather about each of these credits to the STARS online reporting tool.  In the spirit of sustainability, there are no hard-copy forms needed.
  • Once all the credits are answered, these responses are submitted to STARS with a letter of validation from the president of the university.  Points earned for each credit are totaled for each sector and averaged to determine a STARS rating of bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.
  • This rating and all credit responses about Humboldt State’s practices are made public on the STARS website for three years, though participants can submit updated reports at any time.
  • Examining where we performed well on STARS and where we did not, provides both positive marketing and indicators of tools to improve the sustainability performance of our university.


How can I help with campus sustainability?

It is true, only designated Reporters are asked to participate directly in the STARS assessment, but actions of everyone on campus contribute to Humboldt State’s sustainability.  Everyone on campus plays a role in lowering energy and water consumption and reducing waste. These and other daily decisions, such as how to commute to campus and what to have for lunch are all activities captured by this assessment.  STARS is interested in all levels of campus, from how many student groups on campus are focused on sustainability, the recycled content in office paper, day-to-day building operations and maintenance, as well as the policies our university has in place to promote sustainability.  By being aware of concepts related to sustainability, you can positively impact Humboldt State’s commitment to social, economic and environmental responsibility.

Humboldt State University