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Lehigh Receives STARS Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements


In recognition of its sustainability achievements, Lehigh has received a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) silver rating for the second consecutive year from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

The 2017 recognition was based on data from the 2015-2016 academic year. 

The association’s STARS is the most widely recognized framework for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.  More than 400 institutions having earned a STARS rating. 

Colleges and universities report achievements in five overall categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning & Administration, and Innovation & Leadership and are given a score which translates to a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum rating. 

Lehigh reports to STARS to determine its sustainability performance compared to other colleges and universities worldwide.  Lehigh is one of three colleges out of 34 in Pennsylvania to get a silver rating in 2017. Only one college in Pennsylvania received a gold rating.

Lehigh's submission included two best practices for universities—for sustainability planning and for the solar array installed at the Lehigh Community Garden on the Goodman campus. 

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said the associations’ Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Lehigh University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS silver rating and is to be congratulated for its efforts.”

In the classroom and around campus, faculty, staff, and students utilize the campus as a living laboratory to identify opportunities and apply innovative approaches to reach ambitious goals.  Lehigh is also actively coordinating and integrating sustainability education and communication in the classroom with 54.84 percent of academic departments offering sustainability courses.  Additionally, 83 faculty members are engaged in sustainability research.

By promoting sustainability to more than 1,669 students through the Eco-Reps Program and more than 129 employees through the Sustainable Office Program, Lehigh was able to involve students and employees with peer-to-peer sustainability programs. The university also saw more than 2,700 students participating in community service.

Lehigh also has incorporated sustainability into student and new employee orientation.  All entering students are provided an opportunity to participate in orientation activities and programming that prominently include sustainability. Also, all new employees (faculty and staff) are offered orientation and/or outreach and guidance materials that cover sustainability topics.

Beyond academics and engagement, Lehigh can positively impact the campus environment as well as the surrounding community by managing relevant aspects of institutional operations.  Lehigh reduced its total building energy consumption by 5.58 percent over the 2007 baseline and diverted 49.21 percent of its waste from landfill or incinerator.

“Lehigh is committed to integrating sustainability throughout the university,” said Katharine Targett, Lehigh’s Sustainability Program Manager.  “We look forward to building upon our past accomplishments and continuing to advance the integration of environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic prosperity into our intellectual footprint.”

Lehigh has made significant strides in increasing the campus’ sustainability and will continue to do so, with efforts being made across all disciplines in support of our Campus Sustainability Plan 2020 goals.  View Lehigh’s full 2017 STARS report here.


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