March 15, 2017

SIU recognized for commitment to sustainability

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s longstanding commitment to sustainability has again earned national recognition.

For the second time, SIU earned a silver ranking from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education uses a point-based benchmarking system that considers sustainability efforts in four comprehensive areas: academics, planning and administration, operations, and engagement.

“As a campus, we can be proud of this silver recognition,” Geory Kurtzhals, sustainability coordinator, said. “Every person at SIU contributes to this rating through the actions they take on a daily basis. In addition, there are many campus departments that support or facilitate specific sustainability efforts, which include research, educational opportunities, or operational improvements. Our strategic initiatives and green fund projects, supported by the Sustainability Council, play a large role as well.”

She expressed appreciation to the many students, faculty and staff who assisted the Sustainability Office through the year-long reporting process for their support. She also noted that SIU has “greatly improved” its performance within the silver rating level since first earning that designation more than three years ago. From the thousands of institutions of higher learning worldwide, more than 800 on six continents have registered to participate in AASHE’s STARS program and only about 230 have achieved a ranking of silver or above.

“With our current momentum and the growing campus-wide support for sustainability, I wholeheartedly believe we can reach a gold STARS rating by 2020,” Kurtzhals said. “In fact, I challenge the members of the campus community to help us work toward a gold rating. The Sustainability Office and Sustainability Council have been working to develop programs and initiatives to help facilitate this process.”

“In the near future, the SIU looks forward to announcing a new university-wide sustainability action initiative as well,” she added.

Find SIU’s complete STARS report and information about the numerous sustainability activities and efforts at SIU online at www.sustainability.siu.edu.

There are many ways in which students, faculty and staff can become more involved in campus sustainability efforts. Applications are being accepted through April 14 for positions on the 2017-2018 Sustainability Council.

The council makes decisions regarding distribution of SIU Green Fund grant monies and makes recommendations regarding sustainability policies and initiatives. There are currently openings for three students, two staff and one faculty member. Learn more about the sustainability council and its mission and find the membership applications online at www.sustainability.siu.edu/participate/sustainability-council.php