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Vassar gets ‘top performer’ rating in nationwide sustainability rankings

Vassar College has been recognized as a top performer in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving a ranking of fourth place overall in the Water Conservation category among all colleges and universities. The Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

In a report released today, Vassar was cited for its outstanding efforts in water conservation, recycling and reuse, tying for fourth place overall with nine other colleges. The report also highlighted Vassar’s renewable energy initiatives, noting that the college has forged a 20-year agreement with the operators of a hydro-electric plant in nearby Beacon, NY.

“We are pleased to recognize Vassar College for its sustainability leadership,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Vassar is helping forge a path to a more sustainable future.”

Sustainability Director Alistair Hall remarked that Vassar has long strived to steward local water resources. "Smart irrigation practices on our athletic fields, low-flow fixtures in our buildings, and a closed-loop water supply at our Chiller Plant have all led to a 40-percent decrease in water consumption since 2005,” Hall said. “Campus faculty, students, and The Environmental Cooperative has been continuing work done by the Casperkill Assessment Project, which took a leadership role in the decades-long assessment of the Casperkill and Fonteyn Kill, two streams that flow through the campus. The Bridge for Laboratory Sciences landscape, which features rain gardens, rain water collection, and restored wetlands exemplifies this commitment to our natural environment.”

Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley said she was pleased to learn of Vassar’s most recent recognition for its sustainability leadership. “The recognition shows our progress, and we know we cannot let up,” Bradley said. “It is a step-by-step process, and we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and promoting climate sustainability through a range of campus activities and initiatives.”

Vassar earned the Gold rating in its latest Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating Systems (STARS) report. Of the 352 colleges and universities to be assessed, only three received a higher Platinum rating. Vassar was one of 106 institutions to be awarded a Gold Rating. The college had earned Silver ratings in its two previous assessments in 2011 and 2014.

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

About the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
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 Follow AASHE on Facebook and Twitter.

Vassar College is a coeducational, independent residential liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, NY, founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, August 22, 2018