Notre Dame receives STARS Gold rating for sustainability achievements

Author: Donnetta McClellan


The University of Notre Dame received a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in recognition of its sustainability achievements. Notre Dame improved its sustainability score through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).

The 2022 gold rating places Notre Dame, which had earned a silver rating with the previous report in 2017, among the top 23 percent of more than 680 reporting institutions across the world.

With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, the 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: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. 

Using data from areas across the University including colleges, schools, Utilities, Notre Dame Research and Human Resources, the rating represents a campus-wide commitment to the goals set out in Notre Dame’s Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy

The gold rating is due to several areas of improvement, including an increase in the number of students graduating from sustainability-oriented programs, expanded peer-to-peer sustainability outreach programs, overall reduction of water consumption, an increase in the quality and quantity of sustainable building design and construction, a reduction in the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the previous reporting cycle, and multiple innovative projects unique to the campus community.

The report is compiled every three years by Notre Dame’s Office of Sustainability, although an extension was granted in 2020 due to pandemic-related factors. The University will go through the application process again in 2024 with the goal of improving our rating. The Office of Sustainability has worked alongside University partners to reduce emissions, conserve resources and increase awareness of sustainability. The University has seen a reduction in the University’s overall carbon footprint of 39 percent during that time period. Further reductions are expected as the University benefits from such projects as the new St. Joseph Solar Farm and the Notre Dame Hydroelectric Facility at Seitz Park in downtown South Bend. These and other projects continue to move the University on the path toward carbon neutrality by 2050.