STARS: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System

Cal Poly Humboldt has undertaken the task of proving we are serious about sustainability—again!  During Academic Year 2022-2023, Humboldt re-evaluated sustainability across campus, assessing performance for the third time with a self-reporting framework called Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Access the full 2023 STARS report here

After submitting information in April 2023, Humboldt is proud to announce we have renewed our Gold Rating, earning a rating of 76.57, which represents the percentage of points earned in the assessment. (This score is a roughly 4.5% increase since our last report was published in 2020!) This also helps demonstrate that Humboldt is a premier institution for students, staff, and faculty seeking learning opportunities and model behaviors for sustainability in higher education! 

As the campus continues to use STARS as an iterative improvement tool, readers may view our 2020 Path to Platinum Report, which outlines targeted strategies for achieving the elusive platinum rating (a score of 85 or higher is needed) from STARS. An updated gap analysis (re: new 2023 Path to Platinum document) is forthcoming. 


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 Humboldt 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.

Read additional supporting documentation that gives an overview of Humboldt's approach to STARS for 2019 here

History of Cal Poly Humboldt & STARS

As some may recall, in 2012-2013 the greater campus community at Cal Poly Humboldt 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. The first report set a baseline by which to compare performance in future iterations. Humboldt has now repeated the STARS assessment process three times, and will undergo our next iteration during the 2022- 2023 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 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 Humboldt 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 Humboldt. 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 Humboldt STARS Timeline

Office of Sustainability preps training materials for campus reporters

Campus team attends introduction and orientation sessions led by Office of Sustainability

Sept– Dec
Reporters enter data to the STARS online reporting tool

Jan - Feb
Office of Sustainability reviews STARS data and fills gaps

Feb - March
Humboldt receives internal and external reviews by students and a third party sister campus

Data is formally submitted to STARS in order to receive a final rating

Final rating is announced to campus


Following completion of a STARS report, the campus spends the proceeding academic year reviewing findings and crafting action plans for improvement with departments across campus.

Every three years, the campus will repeat the reporting process in hopes of achieving an increase to the STARS rating.