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Penn State Receives Highest Sustainability Score In The Big Ten

source: Lightsource bp web

Penn State recently received a record-high ranking from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), landing it atop all Big Ten institutions.

Penn State previously scored 67.88 in 2017 but received a new score of 74.49 just a few years later. Illinois, with a score of 72.89, sits behind Penn State.

“Penn State’s progress in sustainability is the result of a dedicated effort by people across the University — students, faculty, staff, and administrators — and they are to be congratulated for this achievement,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.

The university has implemented many sustainable practices across campus, most notably in sustainability research, where Penn State received a perfect score. It scored higher than before on sustainability planning, learning outcomes, sustainability literacy, and building design and construction.

“In the past three years, Penn State has dramatically improved its efforts to further integrate sustainability within its academics, research, operations, and engagement programs,” said Paul Shrivastava, Penn State’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Sustainability Institute.

“Though there is always room for improvement, the Penn State community has a lot to be proud of as we continue towards a more sustainable future. I am also grateful to the team led by Mary Easterling, associate director of analysis and assessment at SI, for compiling the information that supported Penn State’s STARS submission,” Shrivastava said.

Penn State also received praise for its living laboratories for immersive sustainability experiences. Examples of these living labs are the new Lightsource BP 70 MW solar farm in Franklin County and the 2 MW solar array near Mount Nittany Medical Center.

In terms of sustainability engagement, STARS ranked Penn State on both campus and public engagement. The Sustainable Communities Collaborative earned the university some credit in this area. It is a Sustainability Institute program that has worked with students to improve sustainability and build campus and community relationships. The SCC has worked to design a sensory garden for the State College YMCA, develop stormwater projects, and redesign compost facilities.

Sustainability and climate consciousness have been important goals for the university and students alike and this new high rating will encourage even more sustainability growth across campus and the State College area.  

“Their collaboration across departments and disciplines is making a very real difference that is contributing to a healthier future for us all. On behalf of Penn State, thank you to everyone for supporting our University goals of sustainability,” said Barron.

The AASHE developed the STARS rating system to help improve the sustainability of over 900 higher education institutions.

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About the Author

Mackenna Yount

Mackenna is a junior food science major from Manitou Springs, Colorado, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She loves food, is addicted to coffee, and can give you random facts or bad jokes that you didn't ask for. Ask her to bake gluten-free goodies so she has an excuse to try out new cupcake flavors. Mackenna can be contacted via Twitter @mackennayount (especially if you want to show off your best dad jokes) or you can shoot her an email at [email protected]

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