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Penn State Ranks First In Big Ten In Sustainability Performance

Penn State University Park received its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and earned a gold rating.

The university jumped from a 2021 score of 74.49 to a 2024 score of 76.41, which is the highest rating among participating Big Ten universities.

The rating addresses Penn State’s academics, operations, engagement, and planning and administration. Its gold-level rating acknowledged the university’s Solar Power Purchase Agreement, support of “designated sustainability champions,” sustainability courses, community initiatives like Shaver’s Creek and Student Farm, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“This recognition is a testament to the dedication and innovation of our students, faculty and staff as we work together to foster a more sustainable and resilient future,” Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi said in a release. “Together, we will continue to prioritize environmental stewardship and sustainable practices to keep Penn State at the forefront of creating positive and lasting impacts on our planet.”

Penn State received a perfect score in “sustainability research” and scored highly in “academics” with additional perfect scores in subcategories “Campus as a Living Laboratory,” “Incentives for Developing Courses,” “Immersive Experience,” Undergraduate Program,” and “Graduate Program.”

“I am particularly proud of the collaborative efforts to holistically address sustainability challenges over the long term,” Penn State Chief Sustainability Officer Lara Fowler said. “This rating represents significant hard work by many people across Penn State. This recognition affirms that our strategic initiatives, educational programs, and operational practices are making a tangible impact. While we have accomplished a lot, there is plenty more to do. We will continue to push boundaries, engage in innovative sustainability solutions, and empower our campus community to create positive change.”

Penn State’s 76.41 STARS score is valid until January 10, 2027.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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