Selkirk College’s aim to reduce its ecological footprint through sustainable practices has taken a further leap forward as the institution joins a global association recognizing such efforts.
Selkirk College has earned a STARS silver rating in recognition of its efforts to achieve greater sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
Selkirk College has earned a STARS silver rating in recognition of its efforts to achieve greater sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Allison Lutz is the chair of the college’s Sustainability Committee (left) and recent graduate Cali Olleck are two of the leaders in the effort to reduce the ecological footprint.
STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education including operations, academics, engagement, planning and administration.
Staff and Students Committed to Making a Difference
Selkirk College’s Sustainability Committee recognizes the importance of measuring, evaluating and continually working to improve on sustainability. Joining AASHE and completing the STARS program was an important part of moving forward in the process.
The college has been striving to become more sustainable through an action plan that was developed in 2009 and it was time to re-evaluate those metrics and set new goals.
“Completing the STARS report and achieving Silver has been a very rewarding exercise for Selkirk and it contributes to an ongoing multi-campus effort to evaluate and report on our sustainability achievements, and ultimately continue the work of reducing our footprint,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme.
The 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. AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations. More than 750 institutions on six continents participate.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” says AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Selkirk College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS silver rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
Helping Lead the Way in Post-Secondary
Selkirk College surpassed provincially mandated greenhouse gas targets, implemented green infrastructure and created a culture of environmental responsibility. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 58 per cent and building energy consumption by 21 per cent between 2008 and 2015.
“We are very proud to have achieved a STARS rating for our sustainability accomplishments,” says Allison Lutz, chair of the college’s Sustainability Committee. “We look forward to watching our sustainability efforts grow and improve through the STARS program.”
The submission to STARS was possible due to a recent $10,000 grant from FortisBC to support Selkirk College’s sustainability initiatives. School of Environment & Geomatics graduate Cali Olleck completed the in-depth submission, her position also made possible by the FortisBC funds.
The Selkirk College Sustainability Committee has provided the leadership to make the ongoing work a reality at all campuses and learning centres.
Unlike other rating or ranking systems, the AASHE program is open to all institutions of higher education, 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.
AASHE aims to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support.
“Why education, when it includes only three per cent or so of environmental users in the world?” says Niles Barnes, senior programs coordinator for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. “We may have a small energy footprint, but we have a 100 per cent educational footprint.”
Selkirk College’s STARS report is available on the STARS website.