Furman University has once again received national recognition for its commitment to the environment. The university was recently awarded a STARS gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
STARS, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System, is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance, according to a news release.
The system evaluates participating colleges and universities by their performance in five categories: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. More than 400 institutions have earned a STARS rating.
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Furman University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold rating and is to be congratulated for its efforts.”
In 2007, Furman signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, an effort among colleges and universities to neutralize their greenhouse gas emissions and prepare students through research and education to tackle sustainability issues.
The university has since constructed the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, a 3,400-square-foot building where students, educators, and community members can learn more about how to implement sustainability in their daily lives. It’s also reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent through operation efficiency, heating and cooling systems, and solar generation, said Jeff Redderson, Furman associate vice president for facility and campus services.
Furman’s campus currently gets a maximum of about 92-kW from solar panels located on the roof of its Lay Physical Activities Center, 30-kW from solar panels at the Shi Center, and 12-kW from solar panels next to the Townes Science Center.
The university also recently constructed a $1.7 million solar farm on 6 acres along Poinsett Highway. The 743-kW solar farm, which went online last year, is expected to reduce Furman’s electricity expenditures by up to 5 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3 percent.
“I am proud of what Furman has accomplished thus far and excited to continue working toward an even more sustainable campus,” said Furman University’s Associate Director of Sustainability Assessment Laura Bain.
Furman’s STARS report is publicly available at http://bit.ly/2DMsTI0.