Eastern Michigan University recognized as a top performer in the 2023 Sustainable Campus Index

EMU is in the top three higher education institutions worldwide with a perfect submission

Students walk through the atrium of the renovated Strong Hall with plants in the foreground of the open space.
(EMU file photo)

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University has been recognized as a top performer in the 2023 Sustainable Campus Index, securing a bronze position and acknowledgment for having the most accurate report nationwide, measured through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The Sustainable Campus Index, published by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities in 17 impact areas.

According to Tom Kovacs, chair of EMU’s President's Commission on Sustainability and professor of meteorology, this recognition is significant because the University is featured in a prominent publication of the world's top sustainability institutions of higher learning. According to the Sustainable Campus Index, EMU is in the top three institutions with a perfect submission. As of March 2023, STARS reports were submitted by over 595 higher education institutions in 21 countries, covering 49 US States, the District of Columbia, and eight Canadian provinces.

“EMU has been recognized for its data accuracy on its STARS report, which is a testament to the exemplary cooperation throughout the university to provide high-quality sustainability data,” said Kovacs. 

The President's Commission on Sustainability was established in 2018 by EMU President James Smith to comprehensively assess the University’s level of sustainability before pursuing sustainability improvements to best allocate resources. The Commission comprises subcategory chairs representing four STARS categories: academic, engage, operations, planning and administration. The subcategory chairs worked within their committees to identif

y the appropriate University departments to obtain the data necessary to complete each criteria in the report submitted to AASHE. 

Historically, EMU has done well in sustainability. The University was ranked among the best universities in the country in the social mobility category and is recognized by Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. 

The commission and its members were involved in the following last year:

  • In 2022, dining began composting dining waste. In March 2023, the composting program was expanded to include Eastern Eateries, The Commons, and the Student Center. During the winter semester, 1.8 tons of dining waste was composted (53% of total waste). Also, 1,500 lbs of food was donated in the winter semester through the Food Recovery Network and Swoops Food Pantry.  Beginning this fall semester, kitchen staff will receive composting training and expand to Chick-fil-A, Children’s Institute, and Crossroads Online. Beyond that, compost and donations will become main options for the waste, and the composting program will be extended to the George Gervin GameAbove Center with a zero-waste catering initiative. 
The University partnered with Spin Scooters to provide a sustainable mobility solution.
  • EMU has a new partnership with EnergySage, a marketplace that connects interested parties to vetted installers. It has begun to help faculty, employees, and alumni purchase solar panels for up to 20% to 30% less than the going rate. 
  • The University partnered with a sustainable mobility solution - Spin Scooters - as the exclusive scooter provider on campus to help with transportation.
UACDC's Career Closet provides free business clothing for students.
  • Sustainability commissioners in Eastern Michigan University Advising and Career Development Center began the career closet, providing free business clothing for students to attend interviews and internships while wearing appropriate clothing. 

"All of us at AASHE extend our warmest congratulations to Eastern Michigan University for their achievement,” applauded AASHE’s Executive Director, Meghan Fay Zahniser. “By fostering sustainable practices and initiatives, you set an inspiring example for your peers and future generations. Your efforts are a testament to the positive impact that institutions can make when they prioritize sustainability and take meaningful action. Keep up the outstanding work in creating a brighter, more sustainable future for all."

According to the STARS report, top performer scores are based on performance in each impact area during STARS report submission between March 5, 2022 and March 3, 2023. Eastern Michigan University's STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

For more information about the President's Commission on Sustainability, visit the website


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community. The credits included in STARS span the breadth of higher education sustainability and are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. All reports are publicly accessible on the STARS website. For more information, visit stars.aashe.org

AASHE empowers higher education administrators, faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. We work with and for higher education to ensure that our world's future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit www.aashe.org. Follow AASHE on Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter.

September 19, 2023

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher