CPP awarded silver rating by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

By Athena Flores and Ryan Ramirez, Nov. 7, 2023

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education presented Cal Poly Pomona with a silver rating award for its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System report.

The STARS report, submitted Aug. 17  by the Office of Sustainability in Facilities Planning & Management, detailed an extensive review of all sustainability measures related to campus from offered curriculum to public engagement and student research. After nearly a year of work, the report received a score of 57.02 , earning a silver rating award from the AASHE.

Students can find more information about CPP’s STARS report and all its content on the AASHE site.

Monika Kamboures, CPP’s sustainability coordinator, worked as the liaison for this project.

“The report is basically a tool that allows campuses to put in metrics, so we can benchmark and gauge what we’re doing in terms of sustainability,” Kamboures said.

As the campus celebrates the award, Kamboures and her team are looking for ways to meet their future goals in terms of sustainability on campus. The STARS report is only the beginning.

“I think we really need to make sure that we’re trying to meet that goal of reducing our emissions at the university,” Kamboures said. “That’s a big one. Trying to reach neutrality by 2030 is one of the goals at the university that we’re working toward.”

AASHE, an organization that, according to their site, encourages students and faculty of higher education to be leading advocates for sustainability, assesses STARS reports from various universities every three years.

While CPP’s score in this year’s ranking is an indication of the hard work of the Office of Sustainability and other sustainable efforts, a silver rating means there is room to strive further.

Student Assistant and President of the Student Sustainability Coalition Lorelei Claxton provided insight to the campus’ progress in relation to other CSUs.

Silver rating initiates progress in reducing carbon emissions on campus. | Alexander Novoa

“The silver ranking means that we’re on track with most campuses, but I will say that I feel we’re a little bit behind because nine of the Cal State campuses that are participating are gold ranking,” said Claxton. “It just means we’re doing our part, but also there’s room for improvement as we can approach gold or platinum.”

For instance, University of California, Irvine, received a score of 88.8 on their STARS report, earning a platinum rating. A minimum score of 85 is required to receive this rating. According to the report, the university excels in accessible sustainability research for students and implements professional staff sustainability training, as well as an extensive environmentally conscious energy system.                                                                    

Sustainability efforts on campus have been ongoing in the past few years. For instance, rooftop solar energy was implemented on the Kellogg Gym and Lyle Center buildings as reported on the STARS document and sustainability advocacy organizations are prominent among student life. Clubs like Students for a Sustainable Future, Student Sustainability Coalition and Engineers Without Borders, are just a few of the student clubs pushing toward a sustainable lifestyle and campus.

Emilee Acosta is one of these students. As a representative of Students for a Sustainable Future, Acosta wants to see more people on campus involved in achieving sustainability as the semester continues. She offers advice for students who want to join this wave of sustainable advocacy.

“I started just by walking into the club fair and looking for environmental movements on campus,” Acosta said. “I found it and I found my place and community. If you have a passion, go into it and don’t look back.”

Acosta is currently working with Associated Students Incorporated on a five-year plan to further implement sustainability on campus. The plan aims to bring in more sustainable related activities as well as further publicizing the Lyle Center and broaden the multi-cultural view of sustainability on campus.

The CPP community garden and the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies are paving the way for students to begin their sustainable journeys and inch CPP further towards a Gold or Platinum STARS rating.

Feature Image Courtesy of Alexander Novoa

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