Sustainability Framework

For its sustainability framework, EMU has chosen a system developed by the nationally recognized leader in sustainability in higher education, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE developed, over the last couple of decades, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) system, which is a sustainability crediting system used by over 800 institutions on six continents to calculate their sustainability rating.

Full criteria, credit rationale, applicability to the institution, scoring, reporting fields, measurement, term definitions, and examples of the STARS system are provided in the full STARS technical manual v 2.1 found at: STARS Manuals and Tools. Below is a short summary of each of the STARS criteria that can be used to gain points in the rating system. The total STARS rating score determines one of four STARS ratings available: Bronze (25 or above), Silver (45 or above), Gold (65 or above), and Platinum (85 or above). Each rating level represents a significant and widely recognized increase in an institution’s commitment to sustainability.

STARS category: Academics (40 points available)

  • AC 1: Academic Courses (14 points available)
    Institution has conducted an inventory during the previous three years to identify its sustainability course offerings for current and prospective students, both as a percentage of all courses and all departments offering sustainability courses.
  • AC 2: Learning Outcomes (8 points available)

    Institution’s students graduate from degree programs that include sustainability as a learning outcome, or include multiple sustainability learning outcomes based on the percentage of graduates from such programs.
  • AC3: Undergraduate Program (3 points available)

    Institutions have at least one sustainability-focused degree program, or the equivalent for undergraduate students. Partial credit would be granted for sustainability-focused minor, concentration or certificate.
  • AC4: Graduate Program (3 points available)

    Institutions have at least one sustainability-focused degree program, or the equivalent for graduate students. Partial credit would be granted for sustainability-focused minor, concentration or certificate.
  • AC5: Immersive Experience (2 points available)
    Institution offers at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program. The program is one week or more in length and may take place off-campus, overseas or on-campus.
  • AC6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment (4 points available)
    Institution conducts an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students. The sustainability literacy assessment focuses on knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges.
  • AC7: Incentives for Developing Courses (2 points available)
    Institution has an ongoing program or programs that offer incentives for faculty in multiple disciplines or departments to develop new sustainability courses and/or incorporate sustainability into existing courses or departments. 
  • AC8: Campus as a Living Laboratory (4 points available)
    Institution is utilizing its infrastructure and operations for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research that contributes to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus.
  • AC9: Research and Scholarship (12 points available)
    Institution has conducted an inventory during the previous three years to identify its sustainability research activities and initiatives and makes the inventory publicly available. Activities are measured as a percentage of all faculty, staff, and departments engaged in sustainability research.
  • AC10: Support for Research (4 points available)
    Institution encourages and/or supports sustainability research through encouraging students and/or faculty in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability, written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions, and library support for sustainability research and learning.
  • AC11: Open Access to Research (2 points available)
    Institution has a published open access policy that ensures that versions of future scholarly articles by faculty and staff are deposited in a designated open access repository.

STARS category: Engagement (21 points available)

STARS category: Operations (69-72 points available)

  • OP 1: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (10 points available)

    Three criteria:

    • Part 1: Institution has conducted a publicly available greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory that includes, at minimum, Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions and may also include Scope 3 GHG emissions;
    • Part 2: Institution reduced its adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user compared to a baseline;
    • Part 3: Institution’s annual adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions are less than the minimum performance threshold of 0.02 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per gross square foot (0.215 MtCO2e per gross square meter) of floor area.
  • OP 2: Outdoor Air Quality (1 point available)

    Two criteria:

    • Part 1: Institution has written policies or guidelines to improve outdoor air quality and minimize air pollutant emissions from mobile sources on campus.
    • Part 2: Institution has completed an inventory of significant air emissions from stationary sources on campus or else verified that no such emissions are produced. 
  • OP 3: Buildings Operations and Maintenance (5 points available)
    Institution owns and operates buildings that are certified under a green building rating system focused on the operations and maintenance of existing buildings, e.g., LEED®: Building Operations + Maintenance (O+M), and/or operated and maintained in accordance with published sustainable operations and maintenance guidelines and policies.
  • OP 4: Building Design and Construction (3 points available)
    Institution-owned buildings that were constructed or underwent major renovations in the previous five years are certified under a green building rating system for new construction and major renovations, e.g., LEED®: Building Design and Construction (BD+C), certified Living under the Living Building Challenge, and/or designed and built in accordance with published green building codes, guidelines and/or policies.
  • OP 5: Building Energy Consumption (6 points available)
    Institution has reduced its total building energy consumption per gross square foot/meter of floor area compared to a baseline or the institution’s annual building energy consumption is less than the minimum performance threshold of 65 Btu per gross square foot per Fahrenheit degree day.
  • OP 6: Clean and Renewable Energy (4 points available)
    Institution supports the development and use of clean and renewable energy sources.
  • OP 7: Food and Beverage Purchasing (6 points available)
    Institution and/or its primary dining services contractor conducts an inventory to identify food and beverage purchases that are third party verified, and/or local and community based.
  • OP 8: Sustainable Dining (2 points available)
    Institution’s dining services support sustainable food systems and/or minimizes food and dining waste.
  • OP 9: Landscape Management (2 points available)
    Institution’s grounds include areas that are managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program; and/or an organic land care standard or landscape management program that has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials.
  • OP 10: Biodiversity (1-2 points available)
    The institution conducts an assessment to identify endangered and vulnerable species or environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land. The institution has plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect the species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas identified. 
  • OP 11: Sustainable Procurement (3 points available)

    Three criteria:

    • Part 1: Institution has written policies, guidelines or directives that seek to support sustainable purchasing across commodity categories institution-wide.
    • Part 2: Institution employs Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) as a matter of policy and practice when evaluating energy- and water-using products, system and building components.
    • Part 3: Institution has published sustainability criteria to be applied when evaluating products and services in one or more of the following categories: chemical intensive products and services, construction and renovation, IT, Food services, garments and linens, professional services, transportation and fuels, wood and paper, etc.
  • OP 12: Electronics Purchasing (1 point available)
    Institution purchases EPEAT registered products for desktop and notebook/laptop computers, displays, thin clients, tablets/slates, televisions and imaging equipment (copiers, digital duplicators, facsimile machines, mailing machines, multifunction devices, printers and scanners). 
  • OP 13: Cleaning and Janitorial Purchasing (1 point available)
    Institution’s main cleaning or housekeeping department(s) and/or contractor(s) purchase cleaning and janitorial paper products that meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified
    • Green Seal certified
    • UL ECOLOGO certified
    • U.S. EPA Safer Choice labeled (formerly Design for the Environment)
    • Local equivalents for institutions outside the U.S. and Canada
  • OP 14: Office Paper Purchasing (1 point available)
    Institution purchases office paper with post-consumer recycled, agricultural residue, and/or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified content.
  • OP 15: Campus Fleet (1 point available)
    Institution supports alternative fuel and power technology by including in its motorized vehicle fleet vehicles that are: gasoline-electric hybrid, diesel-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, 100 percent electric (including electric assist utility bicycles and tricycles), fueled with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), hydrogen fueled, fueled with B20 or higher biofuel for more than four months of the year, and/or fueled with locally produced, low-level (e.g., B5) biofuel for more than four months of the year (e.g., fuel contains cooking oil recovered and recycled on campus or in the local community)
  • OP 16: Student Commute Modal Split (2 points available)
    Institution's students commute to and from campus using more sustainable commuting options such as: walking, bicycling, vanpooling or carpooling, taking public transportation, riding motorcycles or scooters, riding a campus shuttle, or a combination of these options.
  • OP 17: Employee Commute Modal Split (2 points available)
    Institution's employees (faculty, staff, and administrators) get to and from campus using more sustainable commuting options listed in OP 16.
  • OP 18: Support for Sustainable Transportation (2 points available)
    Institution has implemented one or more strategies to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation and reduce the impact of student and employee commuting.
  • OP 19: Waste Minimization and Diversion (8 points available)

    Three criteria:

    • Part 1: Institution has implemented source reduction strategies to reduce the total amount of waste generated (materials diverted + materials disposed) per weighted campus user compared to a baseline.
    • Part 2: Institution’s total annual waste generation (materials diverted and disposed) is less than the minimum performance threshold of 0.50 tons (0.45 tonnes) per weighted campus user.
    • Part 3: Institution diverts materials from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling.
  • OP 20: Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion (1 point available)
    Institution diverts non-hazardous construction and demolition waste from the landfill and/or incinerator.
  • OP 21: Hazardous Waste Management (1 point available)
    Institution has strategies in place to safely dispose of all hazardous, special (e.g., coal ash), universal, and nonregulated chemical waste and seeks to minimize the presence of these materials on campus.
  • OP 22: Water Use (4–6 points available)

    Three criteria:

    • Part 1: Institution has reduced its potable water use per weighted campus user compared to a baseline.
    • Part 2: Institution has reduced its potable water use per gross square foot/meter of floor area compared to a baseline.
    • Part 3: Institution has reduced its total water use (potable + non-potable) per acre/hectare of vegetated grounds compared to a baseline.
  • OP 23: Rainwater Management (2 points available)

    Criteria: Institution uses green infrastructure and low impact development (LID) practices to help mitigate stormwater run-off impacts and treat rainwater as a resource rather than as a waste product.

    Eastern Michigan University manages stormwater (rainwater) using several techniques. EMU incorporates retention ponds in five different locations, bioswales in 4, a rain garden at Westview apartments, a green roof at MJSC, and a rain barrel at The Giving Garden. These implementations, which are types of "Green Infrastructure”, collectively reduce the amount and slow the rate of stormwater flow from campus to the Huron River. In addition, these practices improve the quality of EMU stormwater entering the Huron River by mimicking natural filtration processes.  
     
    Locations of retention ponds: Green Lot 1, east of the parking lot across from EMU’s Indoor Practice Facility, East and South of the Student Center, and south of the Rec-IM Softball complex
     
    Locations of bioswales: Bowen Parking, Mark Jefferson Science Complex, in two separate locations at Green Lot 2 and off west Circle Drive in front of Strong Hall

STARS category: Planning and Administration (32 points available)

STARS bonus category: Innovation and Leadership (4 bonus points available)

Innovation credits are open-ended and reserved for new, extraordinary, unique, groundbreaking, or uncommon outcomes, policies, and practices that address sustainability challenges and are not covered by an existing credit or exemplary practice option.

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