Creighton earns silver rating for sustainability
Thanks to several key advancements in its sustainability efforts, Creighton University was recently awarded a silver STARS rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
STARS, or the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, is a global sustainability standard created by the association, with more than 350 institutions reporting.
“This recognition for Creighton University demonstrates our ongoing commitment to taking concrete actions on our campuses to address climate change,” says Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD.
“As Pope Francis recently stated in his Laudate Deum report, human life cannot survive separate from the world around us. Creighton will continue to take meaningful, authentic steps toward making our University more sustainable, and work to inspire our students to become agents of change that can protect our planet.”
Creighton previously held a bronze STARS rating, and the move to silver comes after the release of the Sustainable Creighton Initiative report in the spring of 2022, a comprehensive, University-wide document outlining the University’s commitment and pathway forward in caring for our common home.
It also comes on the heels of nearly 10 months of data collection by the Office of Sustainability Programs, examining sustainability across a range of areas from campus academics to student, faculty and staff engagement; operations; and administrative planning.
“While we certainly have room for improvement, this move from a bronze to a silver STARS rating is worthy of celebrating and represents the good work of the entire University,” says Andrew Baruth, PhD, director of Creighton’s Office of Sustainability Programs.
STARS awards points over multiple criteria in determining its bronze, silver, gold, and platinum ratings. Baruth says Creighton’s sustainability score in “academics” nearly doubled this year from the University’s previous reports.
Part of that was due to an update to the Magis Core Curriculum, the cornerstone of a Creighton education. In the section on “The Christian Tradition,” the following language shown below in bold was added:
“Students will identify and/or discuss particular challenges facing Christianity (in general) and the Catholic Church (more specifically) in the contemporary world, including but not limited to the ecological crisis.” (Magis Core 3.A.I.4; The Christian Tradition, P. 10)
“In addition,” says Baruth, “there was a near 50% increase in the number of course offerings over the past five years that include some discussion on sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations.”
Advancements in engagement include more orientation and programming around sustainability, including updates to Creighton’s training for new employees and the NOVICE mission-education program for faculty and staff.
Creighton saw several gains in the area of administrative planning, including:
- Creation of the Sustainability Governance Committee
- Expansion of the Office of Sustainability Programs, with the hiring of a project and reporting coordinator
- Creation of the Creighton Student Sustainability Action Fund
- Launch of the Division of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (with minority and underrepresented communities suffering disproportionately to environmental burdens)
“Having top University leadership directly involved in sustainability planning places Creighton as a leader in this area,” Baruth says.
Finally, Creighton has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions on the Omaha campus by 38% since 2010 through prudent campus planning, building efficiency updates and recommissioning of building management software and operations.
Creighton’s STARS report is available online. Creighton faculty, staff and students also can watch a recorded presentation on the state of sustainability at Creighton, recently given by the Office of Sustainability Programs.