The University of Colorado at Boulder has joined about two dozen other institutions of higher education in an open letter to publishers of campus sustainability rankings in an effort to seek guidelines for consistent, comparable and commensurate metrics to size up green colleges and universities.
The move comes in response to the growing popularity of sustainability report cards found in collegiate guides published by Peterson's, Kaplan, The Princeton Review and other organizations.
Besides CU-Boulder, signatories to the letter include Columbia University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University and Stanford.
"Sustainability rankings have prompted a productive dialogue between schools across the country, serving as a learning tool for administrators and students," said Frank Bruno, vice chancellor for administration. "We want to expand on the informational benefit of these rankings by ensuring institutions have an even playing field to work with and thus can set and reach their goals as efficiently as possible.
"In turn, the data collected will be more accurate and understandable, not only to us but to prospective students and other members of our campus communities."
In the past year, CU-Boulder was named the top green school in the nation by Sierra magazine and among the top 15 green schools by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
CU-Boulder, alongside many other institutions, actively gauges its progress on sustainability strategies using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, or STARS, which was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Data from the self-reporting system will be released by CU-Boulder later this year.
"STARS embodies all the credible principles and practices necessary for an informed and legitimate evaluation of campus sustainability," said CU Environmental Center Director Dave Newport. "We look forward to working closely with any organizations that integrate the STARS principles into their rankings evaluation."
For more information on the STARS system, visit http://stars.aashe.org/.