UWM Gets a Gold Rating for Being Green

UW-Milwaukee scored well on a widely used sustainability scorecard.

By - Mar 6th, 2020 04:39 pm
UWM's Mitchell Hall. Photo by Carl Baehr.

UWM’s Mitchell Hall. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Research policies, sustainability planning and day-to-day grounds keeping practices were among some of the efforts that gave the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee high marks in a recent scorecard of its sustainability performance.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education gave UWM a Gold Rating in its latest Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. The scoring exercise, given once every three years, oftentimes goes by the acronym STARS. It is a gauge for sustainability practices at institutions of higher education.

In the just-released STARS analysis, the association gave UWM an overall score of 66.65 — a figure that narrowly put it in the Gold Rating bucket. The rating is given to institutions with a STARS score of 65 to 84. As outlined on AASHE’s website, the organization hands out five color-coded ratings, based on the total score. A Gold Rating being second only to a Platinum Rating.

UWM was among more than 800 colleges and universities in 30 countries that took part in AASHE’s most recent STARS exercise.

This is the second consecutive time UWM has attained a Gold Rating. Since the last STARS analysis, UWM officials reportedly have undergone a number of sustainability efforts, including improved water management and research practices, with the help of the School of Freshwater Sciences.

UWM’s green friendliness was analyzed in five categories: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

There were a number of areas where the university received low scores. In the area of food and dining on campus, for example, UWM received a score of 2.08 out of 8 possible points. It received a perfect 2 out of 2 for sustainable dining accommodations, but only mustered a score of 0.08 out of 6 points in the area of food and beverage purchasing.

But UWM excelled in other areas of the peer analysis. In the area of grounds keeping, campus officials netted perfect scores for landscape management and biodiversity.

High marks were also awarded in the area of research, where an overall score of 16.53 out of 18 possible points was given for such sub-categories as sustainable-related research and scholarship activities and how accessible information was to staff and students.

In a statement, John Gardner, UWM’s program and policy analyst in the Office of Sustainability, said the organization takes part in the STARS program to gauge and refine its efforts.

“It’s a benchmarking tool to use internally — to say, ‘How are we doing, can we do some things better, what do we excel at?’” Gardner said.

In a publicly available letter to the AASHE Steering Committee, UWM Chancellor Mark Mone outlined the different methods the institution has been using to make sustainability a cornerstone of its efforts.

“UWM has established a strong reputation for taking pride in its stewardship of resources, exemplified by substantial energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reductions, stormwater green infrastructure and natural lawn care implementations, groundbreaking water stewardship planning efforts and campus microfarms,” Mone wrote.

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Categories: Education, Environment

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