Why We Submitted a STARS Report Two Years In A Row
Written by Dallase Scott and Lea Lupkin.
Dallase Scott is a Sustainability Program Manager for GreenerU and currently manages Babson Colleges Sustainability Office and Programs.
Lea Lupkin is a Sustainability Program Coordinator for GreenerU and has provided STARS support for Babson College’s Sustainability Program.
If you recently completed STARS, you may be basking in the idea of not having to do it again for another few years. You might be reading the title of this blog, taking a long sip from your reusable mug and scratching your head wondering, “Why would you do STARS again so soon?”
We wondered that ourselves some days.
Yet our second STARS journey, just 16 months after our first, has proven to be an immensely effective campus-wide community-building tool for sustainability at Babson College.
Giving New Eyes to Old Problems
Babson’s sustainability journey is bit atypical. The college signed up for STARS, and then hired GreenerU to start and grow both the Sustainability Office and sustainability programs on campus. STARS was one of our first tasks.
As an outsider, we approached the process with an outsider’s eyes, and we strongly believe that STARS is a great tool precisely because it gives a fresh perspective to campus community members that have been working on sustainability issues for years.
As a new office, we wanted to optimize the STARS reporting process both as a vehicle for benchmarking and as a vehicle for development of cross-campus relationships. We took the value of the data collection seriously, and in turn our collaborators felt valued and energized to contribute. In many cases, STARS gave disparate community members a platform to showcase their efforts and receive recognition. The process developed strong relationships that the office maintains today.
Seizing the Moment
We earned STARS Silver in January 2011, and we gained momentum. We wanted to seize the moment. That semester we invited the campus community to Sustainability Town Hall meetings to share the results of our efforts and to seek input. We invited the entire community to advance Babson’s sustainability efforts by participating in targeted task forces—one for each of the three STARS categories. The task forces were not to get caught up in the never-ending cycles of typical campus committees; they were time-limited and focused on achieving one or two specific tasks.
The task forces selected their projects for the year and worked together to achieve them. In several cases, we were able to unearth STARS-worthy efforts that were already up-and-running or in development. Identification of worthy tasks provided project managers with extra motivation to compete these tasks in time for the report. Through the process, task force members gained insight into the relationship between their work and Babson’s sustainability efforts. Many offices discovered that their efforts are integral to the achievement of deep sustainability commitments at Babson.
Growing A Community of Change Agents, One STARS Point at a Time
Through the work of our task forces, the overall score for our most recent report was 6.75 points higher than that of our previous report. We are proud of that figure. But we are even more proud in having developed a community of individuals across the campus that are becoming literate in campus sustainability. These community members understand the significance of their role on campus, and see how their skills and actions will help Babson to become a leader in sustainability.
Are we reporting to STARS again this year? The answer is no. We recognize that our next set of tasks won’t easily fit into the course of a year this time around. But, will we continue to use STARS as a framework to set goals and hit milestones? The answer, resoundingly, is yes. Our goal for our next STARS submission is to engage more individuals on our task forces to contribute to the achievement of STARS Gold.
Babson likes a challenge. We are, after all, the number one school for entrepreneurship. I guess it’s in our DNA.
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