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Aquinas College recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index

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The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s 2020 Sustainable Campus Index lists Aquinas College as one of the top performers in the area of waste, a category that assesses waste minimization and reduction construction, waste diversion and hazardous waste management.

Aquinas is the only Michigan school to be listed as a top performer in any of the index’s 17 categories.

Aquinas achieved a third-place ranking in the waste category by earning 80.1 percent, nearly 35 percentage points above the 45.3 percent average score for all institutions in the category.

“As a Dominican College, Aquinas is committed to implementing sustainability into its operations and the student experience,” said Jessica Eimer Bowen, director of sustainability. “The zero-waste initiative is a prime example of our efforts to graduate students with sustainable life skills. During their time on campus, students’ understanding of waste becomes more sophisticated, and they begin to minimize waste and become agents of change among peers. Because of our comprehensive program, waste becomes the first step on their hopefully long journey of sustainability. On top of that, Aquinas College’s total waste footprint is minimized, benefiting the environment as well.”

The Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College is currently focused on implementation of the zero-waste initiative, guiding the institution toward its goal of being the first college campus in the nation to achieve zero waste or more than a 90 percent diversion of waste. The college-wide effort includes campus education, collection systems and programs, events, activities and more.

“Congratulations to Aquinas College for their incredible work in creating a more sustainable world,” said AASHE's Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Through the leadership and action of change agents within Aquinas College, I'm encouraged and hopeful that a just and equitable society will soon be realized.”

The Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas related to academics, engagement, operations and administration, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System or STARS.

Developed by AASHE, STARS is a voluntary framework used by hundreds of colleges and universities to measure, report, and strengthen their contributions to global sustainability. It is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.

Earlier this year, Aquinas earned a Silver rating under the STARS framework, which measures comprehensive sustainability efforts -- including environmental, social and economic factors -- at 900 institutions in 40 countries. Based on the score received, institutions are awarded a rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

Aquinas earned points for its 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 recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” Zahniser said. “Aquinas College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Additionally, Aquinas College is ranked number 145 on Sierra magazine’s 2020 Cool Schools list, the ninth time the College has appeared on the list and been recognized for its commitment to environmentalism.

Aquinas is also one of the 416 most environmentally responsible colleges in the nation, recognized for the 10th time by The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition.