SHARJAH, 2nd September, 2021 (WAM) — The American University of Sharjah (AUS) has earned a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), making it the highest-rated university in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
The move from a Bronze to a Silver rating demonstrates the university’s commitment to promoting sustainable practices throughout its academic and operational activities. AUS Sustainability, the campus department dedicated to realising the university’s strategic sustainability goals, collaborates with all university stakeholders to implement solutions that promote sustainable living and working on campus and beyond.
Speaking about this achievement, Rose Armour, Head of AUS Sustainability, said, “Incorporating sustainability is vital to higher education for two reasons. First, sustainability will play a role in each of our students’ futures, in both their professional and personal life, so, they need to understand the concepts and impacts of actions as they pertain to climate change and social justice. Second, students are seeking out sustainability in the classroom and campus activities.”
The new AUS rating was achieved following a rigorous process to meet STARS’ points-based system of benchmarking efforts at sustainability in four comprehensive areas: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning and Administration.
“We could not have made all the progress we did, as we almost doubled our score, without the help and commitment of our EcoReps. The outreach work they do with students is so valuable, they are true role models in our community. We have been so impressed with the work and impact of the EcoReps that we will be expanding the programme this year and hiring EcoReps that will focus specifically on the residential halls,” Armour explained.
“The AUS has earned a Silver rating as a result of the culmination of many small actions, whether professors incorporating sustainability into their classroom, students choosing to research on sustainability and climate change, or installing electric car recharging stations and offering free counselling services at the health clinic. Everything has an impact, and everything adds up. We should never forget that each action we take, even if small, becomes a part of our overall impact as a community, ” Armour said.
The university is widely recognised for its many sustainability initiatives. In 2020, it became the Gulf region’s first university to begin to remove single-use plastics across its campus. Additionally, the Engineering and Sciences Building has been awarded the highly sought-after 2 Pearl rating by Estidama, a sustainable development initiative of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. The AUS also received the Green Audit Award as part of the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency’s Sustainable Campus Initiative for university students.
With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS programme is the most widely recognised framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognising campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director, Meghan Fay Zahniser. “The AUS has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
The programme is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a programme based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.
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