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CWU Continues to Advance Sustainability Goals with Silver STARS Rating

A photo of the wildcat neighborhood farm featuring sunflowers

The Wildcat Neighborhood Farm is one of many initiatives driving CWU's commitment to sustainability.


As the conversation around environmentally friendly practices continues to evolve, many higher education institutions have heeded the call to be more innovative in advancing their sustainability initiatives. It was in this spirit that Central Washington University first conducted a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report in 2019, earning a Bronze rating and gaining valuable insight into areas of potential improvement.

This year, CWU Geological Sciences Professor Susan Kaspari led the effort to submit another STARS report, which resulted in a Silver rating—an accomplishment the university and the surrounding community can be proud of.

“STARS is a really great tool, because it asks higher education leadership all kinds of questions about their environmental, social, and economic sustainability,” Kaspari said. “It’s been useful in targeting areas where we can improve our sustainability in a holistic way.”

STARS is a framework through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education that allows universities to measure their sustainability performance. 

Using knowledge gleaned from the 2019 report, a team of CWU faculty and staff was able to conduct a more efficient and comprehensive review of the university’s sustainability efforts across all areas, including dining, curriculum, housing, operations, and building management. All of the data needed to file a complete and accurate STARS report was gathered and processed by an extensive network of collaborators.

“I think we did a very good job of capturing the full picture of where CWU is at,” Kaspari said. “There’s so much effort, contributed by so many people, in order to collect and accurately report the necessary data.”

The Silver STARS rating reflects CWU’s improved commitment to sustainability across the board, Kaspari added. Since 2019, CWU has created dedicated sustainability positions, expanded sustainability in academics, continued to work to create an equitable community characterized by belonging, utilized CWU grounds to support sustainability through the Wildcat Neighborhood Farm and restoration projects, and added two Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings, Samuelson and Health Sciences, to its campus.

Thanks to the efforts that are already underway, Kaspari is confident that the school can reach a Gold rating in three years, when the next STARS report will be submitted.

“There are certain things we can do pretty easily to get a Gold rating,” she said. “It’s important to note, though, that we’re not doing this for a rating; we’re doing this to enhance the sustainability of our institution, using the rating as a guide. I’m very optimistic about the path we’re on. There are a lot of people across campus who care a great deal, including President (Jim) Wohlpart.”

Media Contact: Rune Torgersen, Department of Public Affairs, Rune.Torgersen@cwu.edu,