Week 2: Let’s Talk about College Stuff

It’s again the time of the year when high school students are turning in their applications and will be making decisions soon. Even we are still not certain if we can go back on campus or not for next year, choosing a sustainable campus is still important.

So, here are some things to look for when you make the decision about where you want to stay for the next four years.

  1. STARS (The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System)

STARS is a ranking system that is open to all levels of educational institutions worldwide; and it rates how sustainable the institution is. The categories being reviewed are

  • Academic 
    • Curriculum 
    • Research
  • Operation 
    • Building 
    • Air 
    • Water
    • Climate
  • Engagement 
    • Campus engagement
    • Public engagement 
  • Planning & Administration 
    • Coordinating and Planning 
    • Investment and Finance
  • Innovation and Leadership (bonus)
    • Exemplary Practice 
    • Innovation 

The institution will report data for each category and receive a score based on their performance. They will be ranked from “Reporter” to “Platinum” based on their score to indicate their sustainability levels. So this is a pretty clear source to find out how sustainable the schools are. 

  1. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

LEED is “the most widely used green building rating system in the world.” It provides guidelines for all kinds of buildings if they want to be sustainably certified. 

As far as I know, many college campuses participate in LEED and have buildings that are LEED certified, from lecture halls to residential areas. So, it is not a bad idea to look up the LEED buildings on your campus or even try to apply to live in one. 

  1. Courses

As students, the main thing we need to do at college is still to get educated through all kinds of classes. But you can add some fun to your education curriculum by taking environment related courses. You can take them for 

  • Majors/Minors 
  • GE
    • Environment usually falls under the Natural Science Category, so if you are required to take some science or math, why not try environmental courses!
  • Just for fun 
    • You can always enroll in courses that you like, not to fulfill any requirements, as long as you have your courses planned out and know that you have enough time. 
  • MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses)
    • Some schools offer MOOCs for students inside and outside of the institution. This usually doesn’t count toward your academic performance if you take it for free, but it’s definitely something that can help you learn more about the climate. 
  1. Student org/Program and Activities 

Last but not least, join campus activities. 

Look for an environmental friendly club on campus, if there is none, then start one! 

It is always the good to know some students on campus who care about the same thing as you do and be friends with them.

Reference Websites:




Picture and Design from: Canva

Wenqian L.

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