GVSU receives gold status from national sustainability group

By Leah Twilley, Grand Valley State University


Grand Valley State University (GVSU) has again received gold status after completing a sustainability assessment developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.


The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) gauges the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors, including education and research, operations, innovation and planning, and administration and engagement. Grand Valley joins gold STARS institutions such as Oregon State, Arizona State and Texas A&M University.


“At Grand Valley, sustainability is not an empty buzzword — it is ingrained in every practice,” said Anne Hiskes, dean of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which houses the Office of Sustainability Practices. “This is a great collective achievement of all colleges and divisions, and recognizes Grand Valley’s leadership in sustainability best practices and education not only among its students, faculty and staff, but among the communities of West Michigan as well.”


This is the fourth time GVSU has participated in the program. GVSU became the first Michigan university to receive gold status in 2013, and again in 2014, up from silver status in 2011.


This year, GVSU’s score increased from 66.05 to 70.80. Yumi Jakobcic, campus sustainability coordinator, credits the improved score to incremental increases across the board.


“Sustainability is a collective effort,” Jakobcic said. “We continue to offer more classes containing sustainability-related content and the number of professors engaged in sustainability-related research has increased. Our biggest improvement was in the waste category due to the university’s Surplus Store, and our score for buildings increased as well.”


The self-reporting assessment included more than 900 questions and includes bronze, silver, gold and platinum statuses. View the full report here.


For more information, contact the Grand Valley Office of Sustainability Practices at 616.331.7366.