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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Greener UA to see STARS

    The UA is taking part in the development of a college sustainability rating system that school officials said will help reach the broader goals of creating a more environment-friendly campus.

    About 100 schools across the country are set to take part in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, known as STARS.

    STARS is being developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, with which the university has been involved since the beginning of this semester, said Kevin Burke, graduate assistant to the UA’s new Campus Sustainability Committee.

    “”We’re gathering information right now to rate ourselves based on the STARS point system,”” Burke said. “”Some of the questions are ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ some are on a scale of one to five.””

    The scale rating system is meant to provide universities incentives to continue to improve in certain areas of sustainability so they can earn more points and get a higher rating, he said.

    The system is similar to the one used by the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design program, which is used by more than 1,400 college campuses worldwide.

    The primary difference between STARS and LEED is that STARS rates campuses comprehensively, while LEED rates individual buildings and verifies a building’s sustainability using hired third-party contractors, said Denise Witten, a member of the U.S. Green Building Council that designed the LEED program.

    As part of UA President Robert Shelton’s efforts to create a greener campus, all newly constructed buildings must achieve at least the minimum “”silver”” LEED rating.

    Universities across the nation have eschewed LEED certification while providing a level of legitimacy, which can also cost tens of thousands of dollars to obtain, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    The UA plans to use both, hoping the resources the STARS program provides will assist in achieving its LEED-related goals.

    “”The UA is pretty cutting edge on being sustainable,”” said Peter Dourlein, the associate director of Facilities Design and Construction.

    Dourlein said an example of sustainable building being implemented is using regional materials from around Arizona and the Southwest to cut down on waste produced by shipping, and considering renewable materials over more traditional but less renewable ones.

    Other green initiatives in recent months have been Shelton’s signing of the President’s Climate Commitment Agreement, a document signed by universities pledging to help protect the local ecology, and the creation of the Campus Sustainability Committee, which organizes sustainability projects.

    “”STARS and the other initiatives all sort of tie together,”” Burke said. “”They’re all part of the same goal to make the university more environmentally friendly.””

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