Tuesday April 10, 2018

Achieving Gold STARS

The University of Dayton earned its first gold rating for its sustainability achievements in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).

With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, the STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for reporting information related to a college or university's sustainability performance. UD's score ranks in the top 2 percent of all rated schools, first in Ohio, and second among all U.S. Catholic colleges and universities.

The University earned perfect or near perfect marks for academic research; diversity and affordability; sustainability coordination and planning; and innovation and leadership.

Improvement from previous years came in the areas of dining operations, purchasing and grounds; curriculum and programs to address today's sustainability challenges; and student engagement in sustainability research and peer-to-peer education, according to Steve Kendig, University of Dayton executive director of energy utilization and environmental sustainability.

"We jumped nearly 23 points — and from a silver rating to a gold rating — since our last report submission just 14 months ago, thanks to a joint facilities management and Hanley Sustainability Institute effort to engage more units Universitywide in our sustainability initiatives," Kendig said. "This rapid improvement — and reaching our goal a year ahead of schedule — is only possible because more units bought into the University's sustainability goals and committed to evaluating, reporting and aligning performance and priorities to advance sustainability on our campus and our community."

The full report is available at the related link. 

"In my inauguration address last year, I said we must be prepared to make investments in faculty, staff, graduate students and facilities in sustainability," said Eric F. Spina, University of Dayton president. "We have already invested in and achieved notable progress in renewable energy and energy efficiency, specialized energy labs and new interdisciplinary academic programs.

"But to reach our aspiration to be the University for the Common Good, we must build upon our cross-University strengths in those areas, and develop additional opportunities for our students to be leaders in improving standards of living and creating a more sustainable environment."

The University's latest investment in its commitment to become a more sustainable campus and engage more students in sustainability work came last month with the announcement it will install 4,026 solar panels on campus. With a capacity of 1.26 megawatts of power, the panels will provide approximately 2 percent of campuswide power consumption and offset carbon emissions by about 1 percent annually.

The University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute, the University of Dayton Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service-Learning (ETHOS), and students, faculty and researchers will participate in the installation of the panels, conduct sustainability research and incorporate them into curriculum and other programming.

Also in the last 14 months, the University of Dayton installed a rooftop garden on Kennedy Union. The garden — inspired by environmental biology and sustainability, energy and the environment (SEE) students, and led by the Hanley Sustainability Institute and facilities management — provides a campus hub for sustainability education, improved aesthetics and a cooler roof that can lower the building's energy costs, and sends cleaner water into storm sewers.

"The solar arrays and the rooftop garden are among the many ways we're honoring national commitments to work toward eliminating our carbon footprint, integrating sustainability throughout our curriculum and being good stewards of our environment," Kendig said.

UD is part of The Second Nature's Carbon Commitment, which commits the University to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. UD also is a part of "We're Still In," which supports climate action to meet the Paris Agreement; the Global Catholic Climate Movement; and the U.N. Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative.

A fair trade university and the nation's first Catholic university to divest from fossil fuels, UD has committed to renovating or building facilities on campus with at least silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification or an equivalent status in mind.

In the last decade, the University has accumulated more than $500,000 in Dayton Power and Light rebates, which it has used to seed a Green Revolving Fund. The fund, launched in 2016, supports energy-saving improvements on campus, sustainability-related research and hands-on learning opportunities for students. Savings and additional rebates from those improvements are reinvested in the fund to invest in more sustainability initiatives on campus.

Many of the University's sustainability education initiatives received a boost in 2014 with a $12.5 million gift from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation. The largest single gift in University history also established the Hanley Sustainability Institute.

Find more information about the University of Dayton's sustainability efforts at the related link.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.

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