Luther College's sustainability receives STARS silver rating

A national assessment shows Luther College has made significant gains in sustainability performance over the past three years. This spring Luther submitted information on the college's efforts to STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Luther received a STARS silver rating of 62.47, which shows improvement from the 47.51 rating the college earned in 2014.

Luther's efforts were reported by the college's Center for Sustainable Communities, which coordinates sustainability initiatives at Luther. The mission of the center is to promote sustainability and be a catalyst for change on campus and in the region.

Maren Beard, the center's assistant director, said, "Because sustainability work is so deeply embedded across the Luther College campus, many faculty and staff from all over campus provided data for our report. Completing the STARS assessment is important for Luther College to do because of the ways in which the assessment tool allows us to track our progress toward becoming a more sustainable institution."

More than 800 schools have registered to use the STARS tool, which assesses how they promote sustainability through areas such as academics, engagement, planning and administration, and operations. Luther saw improvement in each area.

In academics, Luther received full points for implementing learning goals that nurture a campus-wide culture of understanding a changing world and working for the common good. Nearly 20 percent of courses at Luther relate to some aspect of sustainability, up from the six percent of courses reported back in 2014. And, nearly half of faculty members who reported doing research are doing work that somehow relates to sustainability, which represents more than 80 percent of academic departments.

The college got high marks from STARS for promoting student and public engagement through zero waste initiatives, energy, and for outreach that includes e-news and a website (http://www.luther.edu/sustainability/), a community supported agriculture rebate program for employees, employee orientation and other community partnerships.

Luther's Sustainability Council and staff also earned points for coordination and planning of activities on campus, as did the college's wellness program.

Among operations initiatives that scored well at Luther were efforts to reduce the college's carbon footprint; sustainable dining efforts such as offering vegan menu options, growing vegetable gardens, diverting good food from the landfill and composting, using green cleaning supplies and reducing water use.

This summer results from the report will be used to set priorities and goals for Luther's campus sustainability efforts.

The full STARS report on Luther can be found on the AASHE website at https://stars.aashe.org/institutions/luther-college-ia/report/2017-03-03/.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.