Ratings & Rankings
How UofL measures our progress in sustainability and how we compare to other institutions.
The primary tool used by the University of Louisville to measure our progress in sustainability is the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) framework developed by AASHE (the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education). As a Charter Participant in STARS, UofL was the first school in the region -- and the 10th in the nation -- to achieve a STARS rating; UofL was the first school in Kentucky to achieve a STARS Gold rating; and we continue to have the highest STARS rating in Kentucky. Check out the map of STARS schools.
As part of our university-wide strategic plan, UofL seeks to progressively improve our overall STARS rating and our score across all sections of the framework. We are staying true to that goal.
UofL wins gold in sustainability (UofL Today, March 4, 2016)
University of Louisville Wins Gold In Global Sustainability Standard (WFPL 89.3fm, March 5, 2016)
UofL notches a higher sustainability score (Courier-Journal, March 7, 2016)
UofL achieves STARS Gold sustainability rating (The Louisville Cardinal, March 20, 2016)
AUDIO: Justin Mog discusses UofL's Gold rating for sustainability - highest among Kentucky schools (starts 10:00) (UofL Today with Mark Hebert, 93.9 FM The Ville, April 18, 2016) Video.
UofL reached a major milestone in our on-going efforts to advance sustainability by achieving a new STARS Gold rating (65.19%) on February 13, 2016. This represents a 6.9 point increase from our February 2013 STARS Silver rating (58.29%), and a significant improvement from our first rating in January 2011 of STARS Silver (50.11%). Our 2016 rating documents that, on top of what we were already doing well, we’ve seen significant improvement in many areas and we are doing some truly innovative things to advance sustainability. We earned four new Innovation Credits for our initiatives around:
- Nutrition Navigators and the UofL SmartPlate;
- Supporting Diversity with a preferred name option for class/grade rosters, ID cards, and online learning;
- Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy; and
- Beargrass Falls Environmental Park.
We also saw noteworthy progress in:
- Academics, thanks to our new Interdisciplinary Masters in Sustainability and a roster of 174 researchers at UofL investigating sustainability.
- Engagement, with a growing social media presence for the Sustainability Council (launching feeds on Twitter, Instagram, and a Blog), a new Sustainability Internship program, and nearly 450,000 hours of documented community service by our students each year.
- Operations, thanks to our strong support for Sustainable Transportation, Biodiversity, Low Impact Dining, Rainwater Management, and more.
- Planning & Administration, with superlative Sustainability Coordination, Diversity & Equity Coordination, and Wellness Program.
The following table summarizes our progress:
As the report makes clear, there is important work before us to not only maintain our standing, but to push ahead towards STARS Platinum (at 85%). For instance, we would do well to continue working on:
- Reducing our Greenhouse Gas Emissions (which actually increased over the last two years, primarily due to back-sliding in our Employee Commute Modal Split, with more employees choosing to live further away and drive to campus)
- Launching a Committee on Investor Responsibility, developing a Sustainable Investment Policy, and conducting Shareholder Advocacy, and increasing our percentage of Positive Sustainability Investments.
- Increasing the percentage of Courses with Sustainability Content, degrees with Sustainability Learning Outcomes, and students subjected to a Sustainability Literacy Assessment.
- Making sustainability courses and certification available through our Continuing Education program.
- Reducing Building Energy Consumption, and Operating and Maintaining Buildings in accordance with sustainability guidelines (like LEED for Existing Buildings).
- Dramatically increasing our campuses’ use of Renewable Energy, in accordance with our Climate Action Plan’s goal of 20% renewable by 2020.
- Increasing sustainable sourcing in our Food & Beverage Purchasing.
- Employing Life Cycle Cost Analysis as a matter of policy and practice.
- Developing a comprehensive Transportation Demand Management Plan that caps parking, rationalizes our parking permit structure, and uses gradual increases in parking costs to reduce the vehicle miles traveled to campus.
- Investing more in Solid Waste Minimization and increasing landfill diversion rates.
- Reducing Water Use per capita and pursuing natural Wastewater systems.
- Taking steps to reduce the incidence of Workplace Injuries and Occupational Diseases.
Anyone can view finalized STARS reports from individual schools online without creating an AASHE Account. There are some additional, very useful features within the STARS Dashboard for doing research into STARS reports (particularly the Content Display function which allows you to filter down to specific credits and/or particular types of schools, etc.) that you can only access with an AASHE Account, which is available to all UofL employees and students through our institutional AASHE membership. (It’s also worth noting that with such an account you can also access all of the great materials, reports, discussion groups, etc. available in AASHE’s Resource Center). Here's how:
Step 1: If you do not have an AASHE Account, UofL students and employees may create one here (simply using your @louisville.edu email address).
Step 2: To access the full range of features on the STARS Dashboard, log-in using your email address and password associated with your AASHE Account. If you have lost or forgotten your AASHE password, you may re-set it here.
See Photos of our press conference on the occasion of our very first STARS rating in 2011, and the following stories:
- UofL's sustainability efforts rank silver, gold (UofL Today)
- University of Louisville earns 'silver' sustainability rating (The Courier-Journal)
- U of L recognized for
achievements in going green (WHAS-TV)
- UofL gets recognition for green efforts (WAVE 3 TV)
- UofL has achieved Tree Campus USA status from the Arbor Day Foundation for every year since 2010!
- In Spring 2015, Purposeful Networks (formerly known as myActions) recognized University of Louisville with a Gold Level Student Actions Award. UofL was only one of seven gold-level schools out of 125 recognized nationwide. This recognition was the result of considerable effort on the part of UofL students to take an log a wide variety of sustainability actions on campus, from eating local to turning off lights to volunteering in the community. In Fall 2014, UofL received a nationally recognized sustainability award from myActions.org for “green and compassionate student actions.” The Student Actions Award recognized undergraduate schools for student leadership and progress, as well as the impact of green and healthy activities. UofL recognized as “green and compassionate” (The Louisville Cardinal, March 30, 2015)
- In October 2014, UofL won the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education AASHE Award for Best Case Study from a Four-Year or Graduate Institution with More Than 10,000 Full-Time Students for the Earn-A-Bike Program. The award was received before an audience of thousands at AASHE’s 2014 national conference in Portland, OR where the case study was presented.
- In September 2014, the Sustainability Council's EcoReps Program received the 2014 Multimedia MVP2 (Most-Valuable Pollution Prevention) Award for best video series with a Major Impact on Preventing Pollution from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.
- In 2014 and 2015, UofL won the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from Insight into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes colleges that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to building a diverse and inclusive environment. UofL wins diversity award for second consecutive year (UofL Today, Sept. 28, 2015)
- In November 2013, UofL was named the most bicycle-friendly university in Kentucky, earning a Silver rating in the League
of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly University program! As of Fall 2013,
there were a total of 75 Bicycle Friendly Universities in 32 states, including three in Kentucky:
1. University of Louisville - Silver (New Fall 2013)
2. University of Kentucky - Bronze (Moved up to Silver Fall 2014)
3. Western Kentucky University - Bronze (New Fall 2013)
- In September 2013, UofL received the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection’s 2013 Resource Caretaker Award at the 37th Governor’s Conference on Energy & the Environment in Lexington, KY.
Other Sustainability Rankings
UofL also participates in other surveys which give schools relative rankings in environmental performance or sustainability, such as:
- Sierra Club's "Cool Schools" Rankings:
2015: UofL increased our ranking to #73 in , and was the only school in Kentucky to make the list of 153 institutions nationwide!
2014: UofL ranked #74 in Sierra Club’s 2014 Cool Schools list, and was the only Kentucky school to make the list of 173 institutions nationwide!
2013: UofL continues to make significant progress in sustainability across the board, as demonstrated by the fact that our overall score (out of a possible 1000) in the 2013 Cool Schools rankings jumped from 510.89 in 2012 to 625.74 in 2013! We improved our score by nearly 11.5%. UofL continues to hold the top position in the state, ranking 53rd out of 162 schools nationally!
2012: UofL was the only Kentucky school included in the 2012 Sierra Club Cool Schools Rankings, and
U of L was named among 50 greenest U.S. schools, ranking 48th out of 96. SeeUofL's 2012 Survey Response. Read more.
2011: In 2011, UofL increased its ranking to 41st out of 118, up from 61st in 2010 and 92nd in 2009, and the top school in Kentucky for 2011 (Sierra magazine, Sept/Oct 2011).
- In 2015, UofL was named one of the Top 25 Healthiest Colleges in U.S. by the healthy living website, Greatist.com.
- In December 2013, UofL was named 1 of 9 Great Colleges for Cyclists by Bicycling Magazine.
- The Sustainable Endowment Institute's College Sustainability Report Card. (suspended since 2011)
- Having first appeared in the 2012 and 2014 editions, UofL is featured in the 2015 edition of The Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges: