Reaching for the STARS

6 Nov 2019

UQ’s efforts to create a more sustainable campus are being benchmarked to share with universities and other tertiary institutions around the world. UQ has signed up to participate in the internationally recognised Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS). STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for universities to measure their sustainability performance that is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), in association with Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS).

Creating a conversation

For UQ, participating in STARS is creating a conversation on campus about where we are with sustainability, where we need to be, and what we need to do to get there.

AASHE is mentoring six universities that are the first in Australia and New Zealand to participate in the scheme. The group has been meeting monthly to learn about and understand the system, the data requirements and the reporting schedule.

Participants in STARS earn points towards a STARS rating: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. Each rating represents significant sustainability leadership.

Data gathering

STARS measures sustainability across four main categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. UQ is currently in the data gathering phase to submit our first report to STARS. Staff across the university are currently providing input data for our first report. This information will be used to create a baseline against which to measure improvement and compare UQ to other universities around the world

Benefits of participating in STARS

For UQ, the benefits of participating in STARS are fourfold:

  1. We can measure where UQ is at with our sustainability initiatives and be transparent about what we have achieved. STARS will capture physical data and evidence at a point in time through a specific framework. This data will enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements.
  2. By participating in STARS, we can network with other universities around the world on sustainability-related issues, generating new ideas and creating incentives for continual improvements to our approach to sustainability for the UQ community.
  3. As well as networking with other universities, we will also have access to their STARS data, allowing to UQ learn from best practice sustainability initiatives and be able to share our ideas and practices with other universities.
  4. Participating in STARS is helping to create a more diverse sustainability community across campus.

UQ will submit its first report to STARS in the coming months and we will receive our first rating in 2020.

UQ’s draft Sustainability Strategy 2020–2030 incorporates the STARS criteria to measure progress of how the strategy is implemented.