STARS Platinum Status

The Campus Sustainability Office will lead the way as we reach for the STARS!

Reaching for STARS Platinum is a Neutrality goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Identify realistic actions and responsible parties to lead the effort to increase Cornell University’s STARS® (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System™) rating with the goal of becoming a Platinum-rated STARS campus.

Goal: Identify cost-effective and high-impact actions needed to increase Cornell’s STARS rating by at least 17 points, and engage the PSSC teams to commit to achieving these targets by 2017.

In 2010, Cornell began participation in a performance-based tracking system called Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) (, administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in four overall areas: 1) academics, 2) engagement, 3) operations, and 4) planning and administration. Currently, over 700 higher education institutions participate in STARS.

Cornell needs to earn 17 additional points (85 points total up from 68.46 currently) to become a Platinum-rated university in the U.S. under the STARS program. This effort will involve multiple actions across many levels of the university in order to strengthen Cornell’s sustainability outreach and education programs, increase local and sustainable purchasing, reduce waste, conserve water and energy, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, and so on. This action impacts the work of all ten of the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee focus teams and therefore will be overseen by the Campus Sustainability Office, within the University’s Energy and Sustainability Department.

Next Steps

The Campus Sustainability Office will identify and prioritize realistic one- and two-year goals and integrate STARS Platinum planning into PSCC Focus Team goals once the STARS work plan has been completed. The following are potential actions that Cornell can target to attain the additional points needed:

  • Expand peer-to-peer outreach programs for Cornell students.
  • Incorporate sustainability learning outcomes into additional college curricula.
  • Utilize faculty mentors and student interns to assess sustainability learning outcomes and review sustainability course designations.
  • Develop and implement sustainability literacy assessments for all first-year students and as part of the exit survey given to all graduation seniors.
  • Develop an open access policy for research at Cornell.
  • LEED Certifications for existing buildings.
  • Increase local and/or third-party certified food expenditures within Cornell Dining.
  • Expand photovoltaic energy production on campus.
  • Increase purchasing of EPEAT Silver or higher rated computers and monitors.
  • Increase purchasing of Green Seal and/or EcoLogo certified cleaning products.
  • Increase purchasing of recycled-content office paper.
  • Increase purchasing of alternative fuel and alternative power vehicles at Cornell.
  • Reduce Cornell’s total waste generation, including all materials recycled, composted, and disposed of as trash.
  • Begin tracking institutional efforts to reuse, donate, or re-sell items rather than landfill them.
  • Reduce total water consumption on campus.
  • Expand sustainability outreach efforts for Cornell employees.
  • Expand Cornell’s sustainable investment portfolio.


This action is dependent on engaging multiple stakeholders around the STARS Platinum goal, in order to mobilize the university to take on a national leadership role. Success will hinge on securing support from PSCC Co-Chairs, administrative leadership, and academic deans, as well as funding for strategic priorities.