Showcasing our sustainability

Elida Erickson

Sustainability is a defining value of UC Santa Cruz, and we want to do all we can to accurately represent how this commitment is reflected in our scholarship, research, construction projects, and energy management.

The campus, through the Sustainability Office, is in the midst of collecting information to submit for our 2019 report to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS).

STARS is a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability. The data we provide also form the basis for some rankings, most notably Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools list.

Under our 2016 report, UC Santa Cruz was awarded a gold ranking by STARS, a notable achievement, yet one still below the highest possible—platinum. The campus earned good marks in many categories—water, research, grounds—and we see enormous potential in focusing on the curriculum category, where we previously earned 24 out of 40 points.

In an effort to ensure that UC Santa Cruz is recognized as the environmental leader we know it to be, we are requesting the assistance of academic departments in identifying sustainability courses, learning outcomes, and research at UC Santa Cruz.

Sustainability courses are not as narrowly defined as one might think, and can be counted for STARS reporting if they examine more than one of the following: social well-being, economic prosperity, or environmental health.

We have reached out to campus deans to encourage departments to help provide the best possible data by the Dec. 15 deadline. We must submit the campus report to STARS early next year.

I appreciate everyone’s help in sharing information with our office so that we can showcase all the work done in and out of the classroom to promote sustainability.

I invite all interested members of our campus community to learn more about STARS and key campus sustainability priorities for this year at the second annual Campus Sustainability Plan Kick-Off event, from 3–5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29 at at Arboretum Horticulture II. Please RSVP online. We hope you’ll join us.