Gold Standard: USD Receives STARS Rating

In the latest recognition of its sustainability efforts, USD has received a STARS Gold Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, is a new program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.



USD is one of only 59 gold-rated institutions worldwide.


“This is a tremendous recognition of our efforts to cut water use, reduce energy costs and plan wisely to conserve resources for future generations of Toreros,” said USD President Mary E. Lyons. “We are also very appreciative of the efforts of Michael Catanzaro and his team in the Office of Sustainability who worked for more than a year to document our sustainability efforts to receive this ranking. USD is committed to promoting sustainable lifestyles, expanding curricular and scholarship development on sustainability and climate change, and creating a green campus through facilities, operations, and business practices.”

Since sustainability became a strategic initiative seven years ago, USD installed a 1.23-megawatt solar power system atop 13 campus buildings, diverted more than 600,000 pounds of e-waste from landfills and reduced water use by 30 million gallons. USD has also set a goal of becoming a zero-waste campus.


AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: education and research; operations and planning, administration and engagement.


“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Stephanie Herrera. “USD demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”


earthweeklogoUnlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS Rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.


“We are very excited to receive a STARS Gold Rating for our sustainability accomplishments,” said Catanzaro. “This truly is a campus achievement that takes into account, and celebrates the meaningful work done across campus on sustainability. We look forward to watching our sustainability efforts grow and improve through our continued reporting under the STARS program.”


To learn more about USD’s sustainability efforts or get involved, go to

– Liz Harman