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Grand Valley receives silver STAR status for sustainable practices

  • Bart Bartels, project manager at SCDI, reviews the STARS ratings for Grand Valley, which is the first public university in Michigan to complete the assessment.
  • The STARS assessment required participation from all sectors of Grand Valley. A reception acknowledging participants took place March 25.
  • President Thomas J. Haas made remarks on the STARS assessment at a reception on March 25.

Posted on March 28, 2011

Grand Valley received silver status after completing the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS), a self-assessment system developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS is designed to help gauge the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors.

Grand Valley is the second higher education institution and first public university in Michigan to complete STARS. In 2008, Grand Valley was selected as one of 90 universities in the U.S. to participate in the pilot phase of the STARS rating system. Campuses earn credits in four categories: operations, education, administration and innovation.

A reception took place on March 25 to review Grand Valley’s STARS rating and to acknowledge people who participated in the assessment.

“This could quite possibly be the biggest collaborative effort we have had on campus,” said Norman Christopher, director of the Sustainable Community Development Initiative (SCDI) at Grand Valley. “It was a self-assessment, so in order for the report to be a success, we had to obtain participation from all aspects of the university.”

Of the 250 schools that participated nationwide, Grand Valley’s average score was higher than the national score. The assessment included 1,000 questions and compared campus operations from 2005 to 2010. Bart Bartels, project manager for SCDI, said Grand Valley scored high in diversity and affordability, coordination and planning, and human resources. In the sub-category of promotion, the university scored well in water conservation, grounds and dining services.

“This is a rating, not a ranking,” said Ester Burns, development coordinator for SCDI. “It fosters collaboration with other schools and allows us to take a look at areas where we’re doing well and areas that need improvement.”

President Thomas J. Haas said: “This trip we are on is so important. Sustainability is an integral part of our mission, and we’re just getting started. We will continue to instill the importance of being sustainable in all our students and encourage them to apply what they’ve learned to their communities.”

The full report can be viewed by searching “Grand Valley” at

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