Lees-McRae receives bronze rating from AASHE Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System

Lees-McRae College has received a bronze Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) ranking from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), an association that focuses on advancing sustainability efforts among colleges and universities.

According to the STARS website, the system is a “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.” As a key tenet on which Lees-McRae has been built, measuring sustainability is an important step in becoming even more environmentally conscious.

“For us, being a small school in a rural area, we have some big advantages, but also disadvantages in terms of sustainability efforts. The bronze ranking tells us as a community that we're doing a good job, and that sustainability is important to us,” Program Coordinator for Outdoor Recreation Management and Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Katie Wall said. “There's a lot of areas that we can improve upon, but we have a great foundation. We've been doing sustainability really well for many years.”

Guided by Wall, Lees-McRae submitted a sustainability report to AASHE in March, and the college’s new bronze STARS ranking reflects the continued efforts toward a more sustainable campus. The college reported sustainability practices in academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership, returning an overall score of 34.83.

More than just an award, this ranking gives the college a baseline from which sustainability efforts can continue to grow and develop. Having this framework is useful in organizing initiatives across all levels of campus.

“I'm one small piece of this huge sustainability team that's on campus, so I just felt like this was a really great way for us to get started,” Wall said. “Now I can go to all of these folks across campus and say, ‘Okay, here's the standard for higher education. Here's where we scored. Here's some areas that we can improve upon,’ and then that way I can just help guide folks and they can make the decision about what's best for their department.”

This ranking, which remains valid for three years, reflects positively on the institution’s efforts, but it also serves as a jumping-off point for the college’s sustainability efforts moving into the future.

With the new acquisition of South Campus at Grandfather Home, Wall said it will be important to continue current sustainability efforts and integrate this new property into the college’s sustainability plan in order to maintain a bronze ranking.

“There's a lot of changes happening on campus, and I hope we can keep our consistency the next time we reapply, knowing that we have taken on a huge property,” Wall said. “We have a lot to learn about this new property and what it can contribute for our sustainability and what some challenges would be. I see the next round of this being even more of a learning opportunity in keeping us at that bronze standard.”

Read the entire STARS report for Lees-McRae

Learn more about sustainability at Lees-McRae

By Maya JarrellJuly 25, 2022
Campus Life