May 25, 2023

Purdue University earns STARS Silver rating for campuswide sustainability

Purdue has earned a STARS Silver rating for the university’s ongoing sustainability initiatives from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE’s STARS, or Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability for colleges and universities across the world, predominantly in North America.

“It truly is an honor to receive this global recognition, and we could not have done it without the help and engagement of around 35 groups across the entire university,” said Tony Gillund, director of sustainability. “Purdue is persistent in our pursuit to implement and enhance sustainability initiatives across the university as demonstrated by two prime examples such as our work to enhance our recycling program and achieve the 1869 Tree Planting Master Plan.” 

The rating system is comprehensive with hundreds of questions across four major categories: academics (including curriculum and research), engagement, operations and planning, and administration. Last year, the university offered more than 35 courses directly focused on sustainability – including Environmental Ethics, Policy and Sustainability in the College of Liberal Arts, Engineering and Environmental Sustainability in the College of Engineering and Conservation in the College of Agriculture. In addition, more than 140 courses regularly include aspects of sustainability across multiple fields and majors.

On the research front, nearly 270 researchers from more than 50 departments have self-identified as researchers with interest in sustainability as indicated by affiliation with Purdue’s Institute for a Sustainable Future, which brought together over 15 years of research investment and outcomes from Purdue’s Climate Change Research Center and the Center for the Environment in August of 2022. Located within the Office of Research’s Discovery Park District Institutes and Centers, the institute fosters and promotes research, partnerships and engagement in areas including the environment, climate, food-energy-water security and sustainability as researchers work to address some of the most pressing global challenges.

Within the operations/planning category, the university’s STARS submission highlighted, among other initiatives, progress toward the goals outlined in the 2020 Physical Facilities Sustainability Master Plan, including three measurable goals on waste reduction. Goals to recycle 75% of construction waste and 100% of e-waste are on track to be achieved, and progress is being made toward a goal of recycling 50% of all campus waste.

Contributing to the university’s silver rating is the ongoing, innovative work with Duke Energy on a feasibility study to explore the use of advanced nuclear technology to meet the long-term energy needs of the West Lafayette campus

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing sustainability efforts in higher education,” said Meghan Fay Zahniser, AASHE’s executive director. “Purdue has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

STARS rating levels include reporting bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Purdue first received a STARS rating – silver level – in 2013, and the latest silver-level rating reflects a higher overall score than the submission in 2013. Approximately 40% of all participating universities receive a silver rating, and all ratings are valid for three years.

“We have certainly made progress over the last decade and increased sustainability efforts in more recent years,” Gillund said. “The specific goals we have in place with the 2020 Physical Facilities Sustainability Master Plan will allow us to continue to make progress and really help us advance sustainability initiatives across campus.”

To learn more about sustainability initiatives and the master plan, please visit the Sustainability website

Sustainability is one of three groups within the Campus Planning, Architecture and Sustainability Department. The department is part of the Administrative Operations organization, which supports the university through safe, reliable and transformative services. Advancing strategic, sustainability priorities is just one of the ways the organization continues to power Purdue.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

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