Illustration of a green cityscape with the U branding

What does it really take to be “green”?

Art by: Kevin Corrales
By Life@TheU

Art by: Kevin Corrales

What does it really take to be “green”?

By Life@TheU
As a recent recipient of a Gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS), the University’s commitment to sustainability has gained recognition due to the participation and support from faculty, staff, and students working with UM’s Office of Sustainability.

Have you ever wondered what it really takes to be green? We’re sharing details about three big-picture initiatives that are helping  propel the U’s green status.

1. Sustainability in the classroom
Following the creation of the Sustainability Action Plan roadmap, both undergraduate and graduate students added sustainability courses to the curriculum, providing students from various disciplines the opportunity to work toward a certificate program in sustainability. As part of the new coursework, students work alongside of UM researchers who are focused on solving the most urgent sustainability and resiliency challenges in Miami and around the world. 

2. University-wide energy and resource conservation efforts
In addition to a focus on energy and environmental efficiency when constructing new buildings—like the Student Housing Village—and other campus projects, the University continuously works to retrofit existing buildings and spaces to meet “green” standards. These projects require data collection, research, planning, and collaboration from experts in Facilities Operations and Planning and the Office of Sustainability. Together, each of these energy efficiency and conservation strategies have supported the University’s carbon emission reduction goal of 20% (from a 2007 baseline) by 2020.

3. Working together
As part of the STARS recognition, collaboration between departments and people is essential in improving and expanding the University’s ranking. As noted in the STARS application process, University collaborations have introduced new campus partnerships, increased the understanding of sustainability initiatives, and introduced accountability across much of the campus. For example, the Office of Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment was crucial to the success of the application process by providing data on sustainability research.

Interested in joining the University’s mission to create a green and sustainable campus? Contact greenu@miami.edu to learn more about the UM sustainability steering committee and consult the STARS 2019 Gold report for details on how the comprehensive tool helps benchmark and drive success across the U. Open to UM faculty, staff, and students.

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with broad participation from the higher education community. STARS participants submit data to earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum rating, or recognition as a STARS Reporter. The credits are organized into four categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. As of July 1, 2018, 906 STARS reports were submitted by 477 institutions in 11 countries, and 902 participants in 37 countries.