I see STARS

STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System — created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education provides a way for participating colleges and universities to evaluate their sustainability efforts and compare themselves against similar institutions using a standard set of tools.


Stanford headbadge

I don’t know when I first heard about STARS, but I’ve been meaning to compare university campuses in my part of California to see how their bicycle efforts stack up versus their results, and how factors like geography and distance from transit might play into these results. About three percent of commuting students and staff bike to the compact, downtown, urban campus at San Jose State University, for example, while roughly 5% bike to the sprawling remote hilltop campus at UC Santa Cruz.

I never got around to doing these local comparisons because reading reports is boring, and riding bikes is fun.

Since I’ve last looked at these reports in 2011 or 2012, it appears several institutions have dropped out of the program. I guess they failed to see any value in the comparisons. Happily, the old reports remain available online.

You can look for yourself, of course. The interactive map helps you find campuses in your location. For current participants, you can click on the campus in the map to see the latest report, which is split into several categories including student transportation and employee transportation. For past participants, it looks like you have to use the online search tool. It’s a little bit clunky, but it gets you there.

One big caveat: under transportation, bikes are lumped in with other human powered transportation modes such as walking, skating, and pogo-sticking to campus.

Disclosure: I attended Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. When I lived off campus, I drove to class when I lived near Sheppard AFB at the north end of town and had a car, or I either walked or biked when I didn’t have a (running) car and lived closer to campus.

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