The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Sustainability programs earn gold rating for green higher education

Photo by Luca Ferrucci for The Lafayette
The Office of Sustainability earned the silver designation twice before moving into the gold category.

Lafayette was recently elevated to the gold level — the second highest rating — in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System program for sustainable initiatives in higher education.

“Achieving gold [is] like a tribute to the hard work that’s been done,” Melissa Adamson, climate action and circularity manager, said. “It also helps us identify some of our strengths, areas that we can continue to lean into and then it also identifies opportunity areas where we can continue to improve.”

“It’s a great accomplishment for the college … my incredibly heartfelt congratulations to everybody because that was a group effort,” college President Nicole Hurd said.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, known by its initials “STARS,” is a structure created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education that allows higher education institutions to report their sustainable accomplishments and initiatives to be rated on a five-level scale. There are several committees and councils of sustainability professionals and leaders that determine these awards.

Adamson said that STARS is “the most common and most popular framework” for this type of reporting.

There are presently 347 institutions across the globe with up-to-date STARS ratings out of 1,172 that have registered for the program.

The college’s sustainability initiatives improved in several areas to achieve the distinction.

“Some categories where we [saw] improvement was with how sustainability is integrated into the academic curriculum here across a lot of different departments,” Adamson said.  “I think that’s representative of faculty’s engagement with how everything is so interlinked, both the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainability.”

The college received a 10.62 out of 14 rating for its academic score. Adamson noted that the college increased and improved in the area of faculty research and support surrounding sustainability.

“We also have done very, very well in increasing our campus engagement,” Adamson said.

Lafayette earned an 18.93 out of 20 for the campus engagement category. Programs such as EcoReps and the Sustainable Office Program — among other initiatives that were started or improved this year — were credited for this.

The work on this year’s report began during the 2021-2022 academic year. The college has not submitted a comprehensive application to the program since 2020, when it was awarded the silver level, according to Adamson.

“Achieving gold after two submissions of Silver is an important advancement in measuring and managing our sustainability impacts because it demonstrated how our operational, academic, administrative and engagement efforts have deepened and broadened,” Delicia Nahman, director of sustainability, wrote in an email.

The office does not plan to settle for gold, however. Platinum status is the highest level in the STARS system that the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education awards.

“Our office looks forward to sharing more details in the spring and [opening] a dialogue with our campus and community partners about what we hope to accomplish next,” Nahman wrote.

“Moving towards platinum is the goal,” Adamson said. “We achieved gold, but our work continues.”

Emma Chen ’24 contributed reporting. 

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Selma O'Malley, News Editor
Waiting for someone to write a sitcom about a college newspaper.

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