STARS: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System

Humboldt State University has proven we are serious about sustainability—again!  During  Academic Year 2016-2017, HSU re-evaluated sustainability across campus, assessing performance for the second time with a self-reporting framework called Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The campus completed the assessment in May 2017, receiving an overall rating of GOLD with 69.28 points.

The HSU Office of Sustainability welcomed all campus stakeholders to a presentation in which to learn about results from STARS on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 from 5:30pm-7pm in the Native Forum BSS 162. In this presentation, students, staff, and faculty were invited to learn about HSU's approach to data collection, to review select findings from the report, to find out where to view full results for HSU and other institutions, and to hear about planned steps for achieving iterative improvement. Stakeholders heard from Katie Koscielak, Sustainability Analyst, and TC Comet, Director of Sustainability, as well as other campus stakeholders who participated in STARS during 2016-2017. Download the presentation slides here

Access HSU's most recent assessment findings here or review an Executive Summary of the report from 2017 here. 


STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.  This system was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with broad participation from diverse representatives of the higher education community. Because HSU is an active member of AASHE, all students, staff, and faculty at our institution have access to AASHE’s online resources, which include opportunities for networking, information sharing, collaboration and professional development. 

Read more about AASHE’s member benefits here.

History of Humboldt State & STARS

As some may recall, from 2012-2013 the greater campus community at Humboldt State University participated in its first-ever STARS report. With the help of the Office of Sustainability, reporters from various departments throughout campus gathered a myriad of data relating to their respective operations and responsibilities. 

HSU's 2013 Rating and final STARS Report: click here


Humboldt State resubmits data and accrues a new STARS rating every three years when the previous report expires. The 2016-2017 report was HSU's second iteration of the assessment, and presents a unique opportunity for the campus to compare current metrics to those established in 2013. HSU will prepare their next report during the 2019-2020 Academic Year. 

What makes STARS different?

AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a university’s sustainability performance. Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education throughout the world, 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.  

How does the STARS system work?

  1. STARS is currently broken into four sectors: Academics (AC), Engagement (EN), Operations (OP), and Planning & Administration (PA).
  2. Each sector is further tiered into data credits that describe specific metrics, activities, or practices throughout campus.
  3. Fulfillment of credits allows the University to accumulate points.
  4. STARS awards a rating of platinum, gold, silver or bronze based on earned points.
  5. The data used to assign points are made public so that institutions may compare their own activities to those of other campuses, and get inspiration for ways to improve and achieve success. 

How can I get involved with STARS?

While only designated reporters and their departmental leads will be responsible for delivering in-depth sustainability information for the STARS report, every single stakeholder on campus plays a role in some element of making HSU a more sustainable campus. STARS evaluates all levels of campus activity, from how many student groups on campus are focused on sustainability, to the recycled content in office paper, to the policies our university has in place to promote social equity, justice, and diversity.  Campus stakeholders, in particular staff and faculty, are encouraged to incorporate sustainability concepts into their jobs and daily responsibilities, operationalizing these concepts as common and routine exercises at HSU. Students may find data included in the STARS report helpful when researching campus practices for class or when they are simply curious about processes in place on this campus.

To get involved in a variety of sustainability initiatives on campus or to find out more about STARS, contact:

  • Katie Koscielak, Sustainability Analyst
  • (Email)
  • 707-826-5945 (Campus phone)


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A Typical HSU STARS Timeline

Office of Sustainability preps training materials for campus reporters

Sept – Oct 
Orientation sessions for STARS Reporters

Oct – Dec 
Data entry to STARS online reporting tool

Jan– Feb 
Office of Sustainability reviews STARS data

HSU receives external review by Third Party

Data is formally submitted to STARS

Final rating is announced to campus

Following completion of a STARS report, the campus will spend the proceeding academic year reviewing findings and crafting action plans for improvement with departments across campus. Every three years, the campus will repeat this process in hopes of achieving sustainability goals as outlined by STARS. The next time HSU plans to complete a new STARS report will be during Academic Year 2019-2020.