A CSUDH student shops at the university’s Farmers Market. (Courtesy photo)

California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) has earned a STARS Gold 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. CSUDH first earned a STARS Bronze rating in 2018, then a Silver rating in 2020.

“For a university to ascend from a Bronze level to Gold in five years is an unprecedented rise for any institution,” said CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham. “This latest report highlights how sustainability has been supported with intentionality and has become a point of pride for our institution.

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“It is also indicative of our deliberate focus to become better stewards of our environmental resources as well as the strength of our campus commitment to ensure a better planet for all.”

In addition to sustainability being a key feature of the university’s Strategic Plan, CSUDH also has a Climate Action Plan, which commits the university to carbon neutrality by 2045. The campus is well on its way already, with nearly 1 megawatt of rooftop solar, an innovative 1MW/4hr battery storage array, and highly efficient buildings.

CSUDH has also been a pioneer in reducing waste and water impacts and building more sustainable food systems. Food recovery, donation programs, a weekly Farmers Market, and the Campus Urban Farm collectively bring in thousands of pounds annually of fresh, locally grown produce to students battling food insecurity and the realities of living in a regional food desert.

“Our instructional, research, and co-curricular efforts leverage our position as an urban university to develop solutions for our most pressing issues around climate change, environmental justice, and the impact of the environment on human health,” Parham said.

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.

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