Dec. 8, 2011
Going green is more than just a slogan at Anne Arundel Community College, which is among an elite group of U.S. colleges and universities to achieve a top rating in sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AACC is the first higher education institution in Maryland to earn a rating from the association; it achieved the level of Silver.
More than 297 two- and four-year colleges and universities around the country participate in the association’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) and 136 have received a STARS rating. The participants include AACC – a charter STARS participant -- and three other Maryland institutions: Frostburg State University, Morgan State University and St. Mary’s College. Currently, 17 two year colleges participate in STARS – 10 of which have earned a Silver rating and 7 have earned a Bronze rating.
STARS is a self-assessment system that requires a detailed analysis of a college’s environmental, economic and social indicators in the areas of education and research, operations, and planning, administration and engagement. Colleges have one year from their STARS registration date to submit for a rating. Institutions can earn Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze ratings based on a broad, comprehensive set of credits. Awards are good for up to three years but institutions may submit data to seek an improved rating.
“This is a tremendous achievement. Anne Arundel Community College has been dedicated to energy conservation and improving the environment for years, and we are committed to broadening and strengthening our commitment to sustainability using the STARS tool in the future,” said AACC President Martha A. Smith, Ph.D.
Achievement of the rating culminates a three-year process for AACC. The college set up a 17-member Sustainability Learning Design Team, which researched mechanisms to assess the college’s sustainability, found the association’s system and conducted the research required for the STARS application. The team is continuing to explore ways to expand AACC’s sustainability initiatives and improve its use of resources.
In 2006-2007, AASHE led a collaborative effort to develop this standardized measuring system so higher education institutions could track their own progress toward sustainability and achieve recognition for their efforts. A pilot program and multiple updates to the measurement tool yielded STARS 1.1, which became available for use in February 2011. To see STARS reports and information, visit http://stars.aashe.org.
About Anne Arundel Community College
Anne Arundel Community College is an award-winning, fully accredited public two-year institution serving approximately 53,000 students each year through classes offered at more than 100 sites in Anne Arundel County or online. National and regional award-winning studies can lead to a degree, certificate, industry credential, transfer to a four-year institution or career enhancement, personal enrichment and lifelong learning. AACC began celebrating its 50th Anniversary this fall. www.aacc.edu
AASHE, a member organization of colleges and universities, is helping to create a brighter future of opportunity for all by advancing sustainability in higher education. By creating a diverse community engaged in sharing ideas and promising practices, AASHE provides administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as the business that serve them, with: thought leadership and essential knowledge resources; outstanding opportunities for professional development; and a unique framework for demonstrating the value and competitive edge created by sustainability initiatives. www.aashe.org.