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ESF Receives STARS Platinum Rating for Sustainability Achievements

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) earned a STARS Platinum rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS—the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System—measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education and awards five ranking levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Reporter.

ESF's STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

ESF is one of only 10 institutions in the nation that have achieved this Platinum level, and of those, ESF comes in at No. 7.

"ESF students expect, if not demand, the College be an environmental leader," said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. "This recognition is proof our faculty, staff and students are working to ensure ESF leads the charge to create a sustainable future for everyone."

  • Launched a State Center for Sustainable Materials Management. ESF formed a partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish the New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management based at the college.
  • Decreased Trash, Increased Recycling. ESF launched a campus-wide composting system; standardized its trash, recycling and compost bins; and swapped traditional 10-gallon office trash bins for 1.15-gallon liner-free mini bins at its Syracuse campus. As a result, trash weight decreased by 34% and recycling weight increased by 46%. ESF is expanding these programs to its regional campus and believes it will see similar, positive results.
  • Won a Net-Zero Building Design Competition. A student design team won the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon by designing a net-zero building that will be part of the Syracuse Housing Authority's plan to remake a neighborhood in Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Produced a Clean Energy Master Plan. ESF is creating a Clean Energy Master Plan (CEMP) in partnership with Ramboll with funding from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The CEMP provides a snapshot of historical energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission trends, and a roadmap for further reductions in energy use, fossil fuel dependence, utility costs, and GHG emissions.

With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE's STARS program is the most widely recognized 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: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program 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 program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

"It's exciting to see our sustainability efforts pay off with this prestigious Platinum recognition. We couldn't have accomplished this without the support of President Mahoney and the leadership of many faculty, students, and staff who continue to push our initiatives forward," said Mark Lichtenstein, executive operating officer.


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.