Opportunity to Shape the Vision for STARS 2.0
The article below was written by Julian Dautremont-Smith, STARS Steering Committee Chair. It describes the vision for STARS version 2.0 developed by the STARS Steering Committee.
With the recent approval of STARS v 1.2 (to be released on 2/8/12), the STARS Steering Committee has begun focusing more intently on the plans for STARS 2.0, which will be the first major update of STARS since the release of the original STARS 1.0 in 2010. To start the process, and provide transparency about this important step in the evolution of STARS, the Steering Committee has prepared a draft vision for STARS 2.0, included below.
The vision is intended to respond to the many comments and suggestions that staff and Committee members have heard from the campus sustainability community. We are hopeful that STARS 2.0 will significantly improve upon the foundation provided by STARS 1.0. To ensure that we are responding appropriately to the community's suggestions and are headed in the right direction, we are inviting comments on this draft vision. Please tell us what you think by adding a comment below. While public comments are encouraged in the interest of transparency and to facilitate dialog among interested parties, we also welcome comments at email@example.com.
Please note that there will also be several opportunities to make suggestions on specific changes to individual credits later in the process. At this time, we are most interested in comments on the overall vision and goals. We look forward to your suggestions!
Draft Vision for STARS 2.0
This document outlines the STARS Steering Committee's vision and goals for the development of STARS 2.0. The purpose of this document is to provide STARS Technical Advisors with overall guidance about the kind of changes the Steering Committee is seeking in STARS 2.0 and to provide transparency to STARS Participants and the campus sustainability community as a whole regarding the program's direction. Under the STARS Governance Structure, the Technical Advisors work with staff to draft proposed changes to the STARS credits and the Steering Committee is responsible for approving all new versions of STARS.
Responding to feedback from the campus sustainability community, STARS 2.0 will facilitate more meaningful assessments of campus sustainability performance while remaining accessible and relevant to the diversity of higher education institutions.
Create opportunities for stakeholders to participate – To ensure that STARS continues to serve the needs of the campus sustainability community, we want to use the development of STARS 2.0 as an opportunity to engage stakeholders and give them a voice in the process. Vehicles for participation will include public comment periods and conference calls (organized like virtual Town Hall meetings).
Improve comparability of STARS data – We intend for STARS 2.0 to reduce ambiguity, with a focus on clearly defining terms that have been interpreted inconsistently in existing submissions.
Where possible, move away from "all or nothing" credits and towards credits based on a spectrum of performance – Credits that are binary in nature often don't capture more nuanced differences between the effectiveness of different programs. To the extent possible, we would like to modify binary credits to recognize multiple levels of achievement.
Evaluate all credits, adding credits addressing sustainability issues currently not covered in STARS and deleting credits when appropriate – STARS aims to be a comprehensive campus sustainability evaluation. To maintain comprehensiveness, we welcome new credits that capture aspects of campus sustainability that are not currently covered by STARS. This may include credits related to: biodiversity; health, safety, and wellbeing; and social justice.
Improve applicability of STARS to higher education institutions located outside of the US and Canada – STARS was originally designed with the United States and Canada in mind. Now that institutions from other countries have been invited to participate in STARS, we see a need to revise some of the credits to make them applicable to these institutions.
Adjust weighting of STARS credits and overall balance of the STARS point system –Using a consistently applied methodology, we aim to improve scoring and the balance of points across credits so that point weighting reflects as closely as possible the relative impacts of the actions required to achieve each credit, as determined by the best available science.
Increase technical rigor of STARS –To ensure that STARS continues to motivate institutions to strive for continuous improvement, toward full sustainability, we seek to incorporate more rigorous and challenging criteria, and in particular, to address the following priorities identified by our community for each category:
ER – Address the definition of sustainability, the identification of sustainability courses and research, improved direct measurements of learning, and the overall rigor of the category.
OP – Address the 2005 baseline such that both early and more recent adopters of sustainable practices are rewarded equitably for their efforts and achievements.
PAE –Build more rigor and scaling into these credits, with particular attention given to those that have proven to be the least challenging.
Balance the need for comprehensiveness and technical rigor with the need to ensure that STARS is accessible – As we design credits that enable meaningful comparisons, we also want to ensure that STARS can be understood and used by non-technical audiences. We also aim to reduce, or at least not substantially increase, the time required to complete a STARS Report and to streamline the credit requirements wherever possible.
Maintain overall continuity – We strive to ensure that STARS 2.0 is not so different from previous versions that participants feel they have to start from scratch when preparing their submission.
Enhance existing mechanisms for ensuring that submissions are accurate - Options under consideration include voluntary or required review of submissions by: AASHE staff, peers, trained students, community organizations, and/or independent consultants.
Possible 2.0 changes
In accordance with the STARS Technical Development Policy, the following changes are allowed in the move to STARS 2.0:
- Adding, deleting, or modifying individual data fields
- Adding, deleting, or modifying credits
- Changing the number of points credits are worth
- Adding incentives or requirements related to verification
- Changing how scores are calculated, rating levels, etc.
- Changing the organization of credits
- Creating new types of credits
Estimated Timeline (Subject to Change)
January - March 2012
- Welcome feedback on STARS 2.0 vision
- Host comment calls on particular categories or credits
- Technical Advisor discussions
April - June 2012
- Staff and Technical Advisors draft credit revisions
- Steering Committee approves draft of STARS 2.0
July - September 2012
- 60-90 day public comment period on draft
October 2012 - February 2013
- Consolidate feedback from public comment period
- Revise credits
March - June 2013
- Steering Committee approves STARS 2.0
- Prepare Technical Manual and Reporting Tool
- Launch STARS 2.0
Transitioning from STARS 1.x to 2.0
STARS Participants that already have data in the Reporting Tool when STARS 2.0 is released will have the option to migrate their data to the new version of STARS. However, with the likelihood of new and revised credits in STARS 2.0, this means there will be blank fields that need to be completed in addition to updating the content of the credits that have stayed the same. The STARS staff and Steering Committee aims to make the transition to STARS 2.0 as seamless as possible for institutions. This includes providing guidance about participation and reminders when a STARS rating is getting close to expiring (after 3 years).
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