This week, AASHE is proud to release its third STARS Quarterly Review (SQR): The Role of Institutional Diversity. The fall 2012 SQR explores how the diversity of STARS institutions has changed over time and how participation in STARS according to institution type compares to U.S. demographics. Findings in this review suggest that the institutional characteristics that make higher education institutions distinct also play a role in how campuses are advancing sustainability.
Particularly compelling is how NCAA conference rivalry is furthering sustainability on campuses through healthy competition that involves a diverse population of students. Sports rivalries can motivate institutions to ramp up efforts in campus sustainability, with a potential to increase sustainability awareness and improve campus operations. For example, an AASHE case study highlighted in the fall SQR demonstrates how an intense rivalry between two institutions: the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, can be used to raise awareness on human-powered energy generation. In another SQR highlight, Middlebury College’s green athletics program demonstrates how athletes can serve as sustainability role models and encourage others to adopt sustainable lifestyles.
The October STARS blog expands on the fall SQR’s NCAA conference rivalry story, highlighting additional success stories on advancing sustainability through athletics.
|N.C. State/UNC Water Conservation Challenge|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (STARS Silver, 2011) competed with rival North Carolina State University (STARS Reporter, 2012) to conserve water over the course of several months during the academic year. Residence hall students at these rival institutions combined to save more than 11 million gallons of water during the three-month competition.|
|University of Colorado Boulder’s Zero Waste Football Stadium|
|Folsom Field at the University of Colorado Boulder (STARS Gold, 2010) is the nation’s first major sports stadium, professional or collegiate, to embark on a zero-waste effort. The stadium transitioned to a zero-waste system by changing all food service materials from disposable to compostable/recyclable, and by removing all public trash containers and implementing a robust compost and recycling system. These efforts have spurred a 199 percent increase in recycling at Folsom Field over previous years.|
NCAA division athletics is not the only area where fitness-related sustainability advancements have been identified within AASHE resources. Over the last year, the AASHE bulletin has highlighted numerous stories dealing with co-curricular athletics and student fitness centers. Stories like the one below highlight the breadth of impact that sustainable athletics programs can have at an institution.
|AASHE Bulletin Story: U Chicago Works to 'Green' Campus Fitness Center|
|In addition to user-powered fitness bikes and reuse/swap/donation options for older fitness machines and athletic uniforms, the Ratner Athletics Center at the University of Chicago (STARS Reporter, 2011) is working with Facilities Services to implement energy conservation lighting and recalibrate and balance its ventilation system. (May 2012 AASHE Bulletin highlight)|
While factors such as size, type, and country of origin may play a role in sustainability performance overall, across-the-board comparisons are not always the most effective means for measuring improvement. An institutions’ sustainability performance over time can be a more valuable method for encouraging improvement. As such, the greatest competitor for any institution should be itself. By submitting a STARS report on a regular basis, colleges and universities can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to make improvement a reality.
We hope that readers will share ideas on topics of interest to help shape future SQR editions and other AASHE publications. Please send your ideas to email@example.com or provide your comments below.