Seeing STARS

Monday, May 30, 2011

Photo credit: AASHE

I am now seeing stars wherever I go. And I don’t mean the massive, luminous balls of plasma held together by gravity that we gaze at romantically. I’m talking about the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS). It’s a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability. This assessment framework provides universities the opportunity to benchmark their progress with respects to sustainability related issues.

The framework scores institutions on 300 possible points and requires that the President of the University sign-off on the report to ensure that all the information has been reported faithfully. Basically, it’s one humongous form with more questions about our university than a detective with too much caffeine in his bloodstream.

I have been working on it for 3 weeks now and have just begun to get to the good stuff, which means the real research. I have been organising myself and the needed information in excel spreadsheets and then word documents as to not miss anything. And guess what! In order to complete this extremely long form, I need to fill 700 gaping holes (in the form) with verified information. Now I am running after all the engineers in the office to ask them a gazillion questions about energy consumption, GHG emissions, LED lighting and light sensors.

Luckily for me, I work with an office full of engineers who are more than happy to answer (and often explain) all my questions along with reports, reports and more reports. I luuuve numbers.

But the Energy portion is done for now, so I get to pick someone else’s brains. Watch out, I want to know everything!


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