NEW ALBANY, Ind. (Sept. 7, 2022) – Indiana University Southeast has earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The designation was awarded on August 22 for a three-year period.
“Among our achievements over the past several years, is the work of faculty across disciplines to design and launch an undergraduate degree in sustainability and regeneration,” said Dr. Kelly Ryan, interim chancellor of IU Southeast. “We are now identifying courses in all disciplines to broaden the scope and relevance of sustainability and regeneration across the campus’ academic offerings.”
IU Southeast offers on campus and fully online degree programs in sustainability and regeneration with concentrations if environmental, economic, and social sustainability. The sustainability and regeneration programs are interdisciplinary, involving faculty experts from business, social sciences, education, and physical sciences.
Sustainability initiatives noted in the assessment at IU Southeast ranged from an expanded recycling program to the conversion to LED lighting across campus, upgrading existing HVAC systems in five buildings to the expansion of green spaces and no-mow zones, including new grass medians in parking lots, with plans for up to 120 new trees. IU Southeast has also converted electric-powered building systems to natural gas and constructed a highly functional bioswale to control and filter runoff from the main parking lot. The benefits of this work resulted in nearly a 30% reduction in energy costs.
The campus has established a student sustainability internship program and held a Campus Climate Resilience Workshop that brought together forty faculty, staff, students, administration, and alumni for a two-day workshop to prioritize sustainability initiatives.
“With sustainability built into both academic programming and campus financial planning, and with a core of committed administrators, educators and students exploring next steps, IU Southeast is in a good position to expand upon its progress to date, and to become a leader in the region,” said Ryan. “We take pride in this recognition as good stewards of the environment and with the savings we’ve realized, good stewards of Indiana tax dollars.”
With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “IU Southeast has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
Faculty and staff involved with the campus sustainability efforts include Robin Frederick, STARS writer and researcher; Dana Wavle, STARS project sponsor; Dr. Todd Grote, coordinator of the sustainability and regeneration academic programs, and chair of the campus climate resilience committee; Christopher Proctor, chair of the faculty senate sustainability committee; Melanie Hughes, advisor to the student sustainability club; Rob Poff, executive director of facilities operations; and Dr. Randy Hunt, past representative to the statewide sustainability committee.
“When a university chooses to conduct a sustainability assessment like STARS, they are actively committing to serve as a beacon of sustainability, said Robin Frederick, STARS writer and researcher. “IU Southeast has been committed to integrating sustainability across campus for many years. This report celebrates those efforts. Our intent, as a campus, is to inspire IU Southeast students to engage with sustainability initiatives on and off campus.”
For more information on the IU Southeast Sustainability and Regeneration degree programs, visit ius.edu/sustainability.