George Mason University

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Mason earns international gold status for sustainability report

December 4, 2017   /   by Buzz McClain

Mason's Greenhouse and Gardens program is a student-driven effort to grow organic edibles on campus for use in Mason's food service system. Photo by Evan Cantsell.

George Mason University has achieved a gold rating in the international Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System—STARS—with an aggregate score of 70.78 out of 100. It is the second time since 2014 Mason has earned a gold rating.

The Philadelphia-based Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) maintains the rating. Institutions are measured in 17 areas of sustainability impact and more than 80 categories related to academics, engagement, operations and planning and administration.

A total of 871 institutions of higher learning, from Research 1 universities such as Mason to community college systems, participate in the comprehensive self-reporting of sustainability practices. Mason has been a charter participant in STARS since it was launched in 2010.

“This rating places Mason among the top ‘green’ colleges worldwide,” said Dann Sklarew, associate professor of Environmental Science and Policy and coordinator of sustainability initiatives in the Office of the Provost. “Prospective students, research sponsors and community members know we’re the real deal when it comes to practicing what we teach and to making a positive impact on global problems.”

The STARS rating is used in a number of national and international rankings. Earlier this year Mason was named one of America’s Top 375 Greenest Colleges by the Princeton Review (2,000 schools were assessed) and made the Sierra Club’s Top 100 ‘Cool Schools’ list of colleges with the best environmental practices.

While Mason’s staff and faculty members are driving forces behind the school’s sustainability efforts, students play a considerable role in establishing and maintaining Mason’s reputation as a gold school, University Sustainability Director Margaret Lo said.

For instance, the Greenhouse and Gardens Program is a student-driven effort to grow organic edibles on campus, for use in Mason’s food service system. Students also help with efforts at the Green Game to reduce the amount of waste generated at a home basketball game, and with the Patriot Pack Out, in which 15,000 pounds of reusable clothing, appliances and other items were collected and donated from residence halls at the end of the spring 2017 semester.

Learn more about Mason’s sustainability efforts at green.gmu.edu.