March 29, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

Two students working in a greenhouse (left), Calvin and STARS logos (right)

Calvin University has earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. 

Calvin has received the silver rating for its fifth-straight year, with this year’s overall score standing as the university’s highest to date.

A campus-wide commitment

“To me, our Silver rating indicates that we are in an exciting position of both strength and growth,” said Tom Hartzell, Calvin’s campus sustainability program coordinator. “Our application of sustainability stretches across curriculum, campus operations, and community engagement. As we have achieved our highest score ever, I’m encouraged to see Calvin improving upon our efforts to love God and our neighbors in these holistic, impactful ways.”

Calvin’s STARS rating is a result of data pulled together from dozens of sources on campus, representing multiple departments. The institution’s full report is publicly available on the STARS website.

With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE executive director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Calvin University has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, the STARS program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

A deeply rooted commitment

“Calvin University’s commitment to sustainability spans decades. We are a leader in this space among Christian higher ed institutions, and we will continue to provide leadership through our teaching, research, and scholarship,” said Matt Heun, a professor of engineering at Calvin and thought leader in the environmental sustainability space.

Sustainability efforts at Calvin are deeply rooted in Calvin’s Reformed theology and its Christian mission. The university’s current strategic plan names environmental sustainability as one of its core values and the university is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2057.

For more information about the STARS program, visit

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