Letter from Sierra Editor on 2016 Cool Schools Ranking
This is a guest post by Sierra's Jason Mark.
Dear Campus Sustainability Professionals:
Happy new year and welcome back to work. I’m writing to invite you to participate in
Sierramagazine’s annual “Cool Schools” ranking and to share with you some changes we’ll be making this year with our scorecard.
For 10 years now Sierra (the national magazine of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental group) has published a ranking of the greenest colleges and universities, as measured by campus sustainability programs and curricula. Each year, our scorecard reaches more than 1 million print and online readers. Our ranking and the stories surrounding it draw national media attention from outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, NPR, and many others.
Once again, we will collaborate with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to collect the bulk of our raw data. (There will be one outside question this year, covering endowment and fossil fuel divestment.) Institutions can report data using the STARS 2.0 Reporting Tool, available on AASHE's website. STARS offers a basic level of access at no cost to institutions. We are not accepting data from older versions of the reporting tool, from community colleges, or from schools outside the United States.
To participate in our Cool Schools ranking, you must:
Register for STARS (at either the basic or full level of access) at https://stars.aashe.org/pages/register/register-stars.html.
Report your data in the STARS Reporting Tool, and
Check the box to save a "snapshot" to share your data with Sierra magazine.
Complete our fossil fuel divestment question at http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/sierra-magazine-2016-cool-schools-survey. (Schools that do not complete this question can still participate.)
This year, our scoring methodology will be updated to reflect recent trends in campus sustainability. As always, our scoring matrix and key will be available online after all of the data is collected and the ranking is published. Each school’s completed survey and our scoring thereof will be available online once we've published our rankings in Sierra's September/October 2016 issue.
As with all rankings, there’s an element of subjectivity in what we choose to highlight. Our scoring is designed to reflect the Sierra Club’s larger goals and priorities. For instance, compared to AASHE’s STARS, we place more emphasis on energy consumption and infrastructure improvements than on curriculum. Still, we believe our ranking provides a broad and accurate picture of how schools are performing in terms of sustainability.
As the new editor in chief of Sierra, I’m determined to guarantee that our Cool Schools reporting meets the highest standards of thoroughness and accuracy.To ensure total confidence in our rankings, we plan to hire an independent data-analysis firm to manage data migration and scoring for 2016. This independent third party will oversee the ranking and will be on-hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have once the rankings are published.
This year’s deadline for submitting information through the AASHE STARS system will be 11:59 PM Tuesday, March 22. Any information submitted to STARS between March 23, 2015 and March 22, 2016 will be eligible for scoring.
Our list of questions is available online at http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/cool-schools-2016. As mentioned above, we will also have one additional question this year regarding your institution’s investments in fossil fuels. To complete that question, please visit http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/sierra-magazine-2016-cool-schools-survey.
Thank you for participating in Sierra’s 2016 Cool Schools ranking. If you have any questions about this year’s survey, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Editor in Chief
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education ("AASHE").
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