Cleveland State receives ‘silver’ rating for sustainability progress

By: Jenna Thomas

Every three years, Cleveland State University submits a sustainability report to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The Association rates universities on a scale of gold, silver, and bronze based on several criteria. 

With over 900 universities taking part from 40 different countries, the AASHE’s evaluation is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.

Some notable sustainability efforts include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increased use of renewable energy. Since 2007, the university has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 40%. As of 2019, 58% of the university’s electricity supply comes from renewable power. 

In August 2019, the university installed dot patterned films on the glass entryway of the law building- an effort to limit bird fatalities. The leading cause of death for birds is collisions with buildings. The grounds management team at CSU found that the Law Library was the most frequent location of bird collisions. Tim Jasinski, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, touted the installation’s outstanding success. 

“It has been a 100 percent success and no more birds have been found there! Those films truly work wonders!”

Still, despite these impressive strides, the university’s silver rating shows gaps. 

Some low-scoring categories in the assessment include investment and finance and public engagement. The university does not have a formally established and active committee on investor responsibility. The university’s lack of local and state public policy advocacy efforts also docked them multiple points. 

CSU’s Office of Sustainability and its director of sustainability, Jennifer McMillin, recognizes that there is room to improve. 

“Our score has been steadily increasing and the STARS framework allows us to see where we are currently and where we need to go. The enthusiasm that students, faculty, and staff have for our sustainability initiatives is very encouraging, and we look forward to seeing our collective efforts grow in the coming years.”

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