By Alex Davis, Sustainability Program Manager
‘Tis the season!
Nope, it’s not the holidays just yet. And March 2019 can seem like quite a long way away, especially now that temperatures are getting crisp.
But March is probably* the deadline for submitting STARS®** reporting for Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” and the Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Colleges.” And when you remember holiday breaks, weather-related closings, competing priorities, and the often slow pace of higher education, you know March is actually about in five minutes.
This means that, if you have not already done so, now is the time to start your STARS data collection. Information requests for data such as campus population metrics and analysis (and deciphering) of food, transportation, energy, curriculum, and research data can take significant time, especially if this is your first time doing so at an institution.
Efforts to streamline the sustainability reporting process has led to many institutions finding themselves on a new STARS reporting cycle. Participating in these assessment programs can bring much-valued media attention to campus, a focus that can be helpful for sustainability offices hoping to draw attention to funding and programming needs within an institution.
But it also requires a significant amount of time for campus sustainability leaders to chase after information. STARS reporting can be challenging for many campus sustainability leaders. It is an incredibly valuable tool for our work, and yet completing a STARS report can sometimes mean stopping all other sustainability work for weeks at a time. Determining exactly what your EUI-adjusted floor area is or how many weighted campus users you may have takes mental energy and staff time that is nearly always in short order.
STARS reporting is a bit like filing joint taxes in your first year as a newly married homeowner…with a business…and a baby. Sure, you could probably figure it out. But you could also hand it over to someone who knows how to maximize your refund.
At GreenerU, we’ve supported several institutions working to complete their STARS report, ranging from a complete collection of the data to an external review to improve data accuracy and earn an exemplary practice credit. We also enjoy working with student interns who may be leading a STARS data collection project.
If you’d like to have a conversation about how we can support you, contact us at email@example.com. Then maybe you can relax during the holidays.
*We say probably because it shifts around by a few weeks each year and we don’t have a crystal ball. But if you wait until the deadline is announced to start your data collection, you likely won’t be able to focus on anything else for quite a while.
**Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System