Environment

The University of Louisville has won a gold ranking in sustainability from a global group, making it the first university in Kentucky to achieve gold status.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) is a framework to help colleges and universities measure their sustainability. It’s a program offered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and allows schools around the world to self-report and track their progress.

This year, for the first time, U of L earned 65.12 out of 100 possible points, making the school one of 92 in the world to win gold. Previously in 2013 and 2011, the university was ranked silver.

“It is a documentation of how far we’ve come in terms of our social, economic and environmental stewardship,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives. “We really have been working hard on this for years.”

STARS assigns universities points based on factors like completing greenhouse gas emissions inventory, providing options for sustainable transportation and waste diversion.

Mog said a few factors helped U of L this year, like the university’s first degree program in sustainability, the “Earn-a-Bike” program — which provides a student a bike voucher in exchange for their parking permit — and efforts to mitigate stormwater runoff.

To get gold, though, U of L still only got about 65 out of a possible 100 points. Next is the platinum level, at 85 points. Only one school in the world — Colorado State University — has achieved that ranking, but Mog said U of L is setting its sights there.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously,” he said. “We need to keep improving in all of these areas and keep pushing to try to get there. It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s doesn’t happen with one project, it’s continual progress across the board, a commitment from the top level and the grassroots level to these things from the university.”

Only two other Kentucky colleges or universities are ranked in the STARS program; Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky both have silver status.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.