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Article
Publication date: 3 December 2020

Jamee Pelcher, Brian P. McCullough and Sylvia Trendafilova

The purpose of this paper is to examine higher education institutions’ participation in association for the advancement of sustainability in higher education’s (AASHE’s…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine higher education institutions’ participation in association for the advancement of sustainability in higher education’s (AASHE’s) Green Athletics category in the sustainability tracking, assessment and rating system (STARS) sustainability report while assessing how well collegiate athletic departments engage with their respective aspects.

Design/methodology/approach

This general review used quantitative content analysis to determine the number of NCAA Divisions I–III institutions that actively report Green Athletics categories in their AASHE STARS reports. The data collection process compiled current reports from the STARS website and the National Collegiate Athletic Association database. Green Athletics categorical and accumulated point attempts and outcomes were analyzed.

Findings

Of the 335 institutions that actively use the STARS reporting tool, the NCAA accounted for 247 rated institutions of which only 50 attempted points in Green Athletics while only 21 institutions succeeded. This paper discusses the lack of participation from institutions in Green Athletics and propose an alternate to better engage collegiate athletics in STARS reporting.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first known examinations of the tangible results of collaborations on college campuses to integrate the athletic department’s sustainability efforts into the overall sustainability reporting of the institution. This study can better inform STARS on how to more fully engage college athletic departments and boost the sustainability efforts in all corners of campus.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Tim Lang

The purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that there are correlations between campus sustainability initiatives and environmental performance, as measured by…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that there are correlations between campus sustainability initiatives and environmental performance, as measured by resource consumption and waste generation performance metrics. Institutions of higher education would like to imply that their campus sustainability initiatives are good proxies for their environmental performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data reported through the Association for the Advancement in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (AASHE STARS) framework, a series of univariate multiple linear regression models were constructed to test for correlations between energy, greenhouse gas (GHG), water and waste performance metrics, and credit points awarded to institutions for various campus sustainability initiatives.

Findings

There are very limited correlations between institutional environmental performance and adoption of campus sustainability initiatives, be they targeted operational or coordination and planning best practices, or curricular, co-curricular or research activities. Conversely, there are strong correlations between environmental performance and campus characteristics, namely, institution type and climate zone.

Practical implications

Institutional decision makers should not assume that implementing best practices given credit by AASHE STARS will lead to improved environmental performance. Those assessing institutional sustainability should be wary of institutions who cite initiatives to imply a certain level of environmental performance or performance improvement.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to use data reported through the AASHE STARS framework to assess correlations between campus initiatives and environmental performance. It extends beyond previous research by considering energy, water and waste performance metrics in addition to GHG emissions, and it considers campus sustainability initiatives in addition to campus characteristics.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2020

Bifeng Zhu, Chufan Zhu and Bart Dewancker

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the way to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Through the introduction and learning of a specific case, this paper…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the way to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Through the introduction and learning of a specific case, this paper summarizes the specific process of green campus’s development and construction and directly discusses how to achieve the goal of sustainable development. By analyzing the achievements and measures of its construction, on the one hand, the experience and shortcomings of its green campus construction are summarized; on the other hand, the impact of Stanford’s own green campus construction on the local community is discussed.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper takes Stanford, one of the best green campuses assessed by sustainability tracking, assessment and rating system (STARS), as a case study in three steps. First, it introduces the academics, energy supply and demand, water and land, waste, management, food and living, buildings and transportation of its campus construction in detail; second, it uses the STARS to make a comprehensive sustainable evaluation of Stanford; finally, it discusses the development relationship between Stanford and local community.

Findings

The four characteristics of its green campus development model are summarized, namely, based on its own scientific research; from the aspect of environmental friendliness; to achieve joint participation; and forming complementary development with the community. The construction of green campus has changed from a single triangle framework composed of SDGs, STARS and universities to a compound triangle framework composed of SDGs, universities and communities on the existing basis, greatly expanding the way to realize SDGs.

Practical implications

This development mode will have direct guiding significance for the sustainable construction of other campuses.

Social implications

This paper also discusses the development concept from green campus to sustainable community to provide positive reference to achieve the global SDGs from the perspective of colleges and universities.

Originality/value

According to the historical track of its development, this paper combines the two (SDGs and green campus) to discuss by using campus construction as an effective way to achieve the SDGs. On the basis of literature research and case study, STARS sustainable assessment is introduced. This will lead to quantitative analysis of sustainable construction in the discussion of the specific case, judging the specific sustainable degree of all aspects of campus construction, to provide a scientific basis for summarizing its characteristics of development mode.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Elizabeth Semeraro and Neil M. Boyd

Administrators in higher-education settings routinely create planning documents that help steer the organization in mission-centric ways. In the area of sustainability…

Abstract

Purpose

Administrators in higher-education settings routinely create planning documents that help steer the organization in mission-centric ways. In the area of sustainability planning, strategic plans, sustainability plans and climate action plans are the most common methods used. The purpose of this study is to evaluate if specific forms of planning predict sustainability outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

This question was evaluated via an empirical archival study of the AASHE STARS database in relation to planning, administration and governance credits and criteria to determine if specific forms of planning were predictive of sustainability implementation outcomes in the categories of Education and Research, Operations, Diversity and Affordability, Human Resources, Investment, Public Engagement and Innovation.

Findings

Findings support the notion that climate action plans were most predictive of achieving sustainability outcomes, and strategic plans were best able to predict educational outcomes.

Practical implications

These findings have important implications for the design and execution of sustainability planning processes in higher-education institutions.

Originality/value

The academic literature contains relatively few empirical studies that demonstrate the capacity of planning on the realization of sustainability outcomes.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2014

Yu-Ti Huang, Vânia R. Coelho, Jacob Massoud, Susan Briski, Ana Toepel and Marcia Silva

The purpose of this study was to establish an objective mathematical decision-making procedure to help universities prioritize credits, while using the Sustainability…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to establish an objective mathematical decision-making procedure to help universities prioritize credits, while using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) framework developed by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), when pursuing their sustainability goals in the short-, medium- and long-term. The authors used the assessment data from Dominican University of California (DUofC), as our case study.

Design/methodology/approach

Two criteria, the number of possible points available and overall priority, were developed to classify credits in the STARS version 1.2 framework into six groups from lowest to highest level of difficulty. Two mathematical credit-selecting models based on how many points were available per credit, partial or full amount, were also established to produce short-, medium- and long-term plans.

Findings

Our results show that DUofC can reach the Silver level in three years by working on 25 credits; Gold level in nine years by focusing its efforts in 28 additional credits; and Platinum level in 15 years by improving another 10 credits.

Originality/value

The procedure developed in this study can be applied to other universities and other versions of the STARS framework.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 April 2011

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2020

Luis-Alberto Casado-Aranda, Sandra Sofia Caeiro, Jorge Trindade, Arminda Paço, David Lizcano Casas and Ana Landeta

Universities are continually transforming its structure and governance in response to the new social, environmental and economic challenges. Particularly, there has…

Abstract

Purpose

Universities are continually transforming its structure and governance in response to the new social, environmental and economic challenges. Particularly, there has recently been a growing academic interest for measuring sustainable practices of higher education institutions (HEI) aiming to monitor and reduce their carbon emissions, as well as transform them into more sustainable organizations. More recent studies began to focus also on the sustainable performance of distance education Universities. So it became crucial to evaluate their sustainability practices through sustainability assessment tools with the aim of improving their sustainability performance and boosting their role as agents of academic, social and economic change. The purpose of this study is to assess and compare holistically sustainability implementation in two similar distance learning universities and to evaluate their advantages and disadvantages.

Design/methodology/approach

One of the most rigorous and internationally used sustainability assessment tools was used – the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, to evaluate and compare sustainability implementation in two distance universities, one from Spain and another from Portugal: the Madrid Open University and Universidade Aberta. Indicators of both universities were compared and ways of improvement in both universities were widely discussed.

Findings

The results of this research show that there is a similar pattern in both universities. Both have low performance in campus operations and low levels of community participation but good performance in sustainability courses and programmes offer. The results of both institutions were compared and allowed a learning process for improvement.

Originality/value

This research hopes to contribute to the continuous research about the usefulness of sustainability assessment tools in particular when applied to distance universities at the time that offers new paths to carry out improved sustainable practices in crucial areas of interest such as research, administration, education and resource-saving. This research also highlights the value of distance learning universities and their ability to be more sustainable after the advent of COVID-19.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 12 March 2018

Alexandra Velasco, Melanie Valencia, Samantha Morrow and Valeria Ochoa-Herrera

Universidad San Francisco de Quito, USFQ, completed an assessment study to understand its performance in sustainability in 2012. This study aims to recognize the…

Abstract

Purpose

Universidad San Francisco de Quito, USFQ, completed an assessment study to understand its performance in sustainability in 2012. This study aims to recognize the limitations of applying a North American rating system considering relevant criteria to a South American university and to emphasize the importance and lack of benchmarks available in the region.

Design/methodology/approach

Methodology used for this study is based on the Sustainability Tracking Assessment Rating System (STARS) by AASHE. In December 2013, USFQ joined the Pilot Program that included publicly documenting efforts, sharing feedback and making suggestions for system improvements.

Findings

Data collected by USFQ in 2012 and 2013 illustrate how the status of USFQ as a non-residential, teaching university in Ecuador in a developing country had several challenges while using an evaluation system established for universities within a North American system. The limits of assessing sustainability in South America are associated to its geographical location, the number of students and staff that commute to University and the lack of environmental services and certifications available in Ecuador. There are applicability issues with the use of STARS without performance reports from regional peers that can guide the development of relevant benchmarks for future comparability.

Originality/value

Little research has been conducted in the assessment and tracking of sustainability within universities in South America. This paper is one of the first to address the applicability of a North American self-reporting tool to a South American university.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 4 July 2013

Aurali Dade and David M. Hassenzahl

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate how institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the USA communicate sustainability through their websites. Specifically, the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate how institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the USA communicate sustainability through their websites. Specifically, the authors compare how and to what extent sustainability is communicated through an institution‐wide sustainability website versus operational and academic department websites.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper describes the results of a content analysis of over 700 websites at IHEs in the USA which were selected in a stratified random sample. Each website was coded with responses entered into a data matrix. The data in the matrix were then evaluated and compared for important factors related to communicating about campus sustainability.

Findings

Although there has been an increase in the number of commitments to sustainability by IHEs, at the time of this content analysis the commitment was not reflected on the websites of the IHEs sampled. Given the common use of websites at IHEs in the USA to communicate to large groups, colleges and universities should ensure that their websites reflect actual practice.

Practical implications

The findings from this study may encourage IHEs in the USA to better communicate their practice related to sustainability. The implementation of the sustainability communication component in AASHE STARS may also play an important role in increased and better communication about campus sustainability.

Originality/value

This study describes the first large‐scale content analysis of university websites evaluating sustainability characteristics. This paper gives a starting point and recommendations for IHEs who wish to enhance communication about sustainability through their websites.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 15 January 2018

Camille Washington-Ottombre and Siiri Bigalke

This paper aims to compose a systematic understanding of campus sustainability innovations and unpack the complex drivers behind the elaboration of specific innovations…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to compose a systematic understanding of campus sustainability innovations and unpack the complex drivers behind the elaboration of specific innovations. More precisely, the authors ask two fundamental questions: What are the topics and modes of implementation of campus sustainability innovations? What are the external and internal factors that drive the development of specific innovations?

Design/methodology/approach

The authors code and analyze 454 innovations reported within the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS), the campus sustainability assessment tool of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using descriptive statistics and illustrations, the paper assesses the state of environmental innovations (EIs) within STARS. Then, to evaluate the role of internal and external drivers in shaping EIs, the authors have produced classification and regression tree models.

Findings

The authors’ analysis shows that external and internal factors provide incentives and a favorable context for the implementation of given EIs. External drivers such as climatic zones, local income and poverty rate drive the development of several EIs. Internal drivers beyond the role of the agent of change, often primarily emphasized by past literature, significantly impact the implementation of given EIs. The authors’ work also reveals that EIs often move beyond traditional mitigation approaches and the boundaries of campus. EIs create new dynamics of innovation that echo and reinforce the culture of a higher education institution.

Originality/value

This work provides the first aggregated picture of EIs in the USA and Canada. It produces a new and integrated understanding of the dynamics of campus sustainability that complexifies narratives and contextualizes the role of change agents.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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