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Track Our Progress

Penn State is dedicated to tracking its progress in sustainability to improve the University and address its sustainability goals. It may be difficult for Penn State to proceed forward with tangible, sustainable improvements unless we measure our current successes and failures. 

The University has already participated in several sustainability progress assessments, such as the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and the Princeton Review's Green Rating (see brief descriptions below). We also track additional metrics that are representative of Penn State's unique sustainability goals.

STARS: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™

STARS Gold award logo

STARS was created using sustainability reports from industry, higher education and government. STARS encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability. In 2017, Penn State received a Gold rating from STARS. How do we know that Penn State is becoming a more sustainable state? In 2011, Penn State received a STARS Silver rating.

Princeton Review

Princeton Review contains a Green Rating in its annual guide. The Review assembled a panel of experts in higher education and sustainable practices to produce a survey for school administrators. The panel then selected questions and weighted them for the rating. Almost all four-year colleges and universities are invited to participate in the survey. Princeton Review then produces a rating for each participating college based on their responses. Penn State was rated as one of the 399 Green Colleges in 2018.


Penn State has received one of the top facilities honors in the country—The 2017 APPA Effective & Innovative Practices Award. APPA is the professional association of educational facilities in the United States, Canada and abroad.


Sierra Club's "Cool Schools"

The Sierra Club compiles information for its annual “Cool Schools” magazine issue, which rates American colleges and universities according to their environmental practices, green initiatives, and level of sustainability-oriented education. In 2017, Penn State was ranked #46 on the "Cool Schools" list out of 227 higher education institutions. In 2010, Penn State was ranked #80.

National Recycling Coalition

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) presented Penn State with its 2014 Outstanding Higher Education Award as one of the “Best of the Best.” The University was specifically recognized for its exceptional program in recycling and for “connecting higher education and industry.”

The NRC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing recycling in the U.S. By partnering with its more than 6,000 member organizations, which includes other nonprofits, businesses, trade associations, individuals and government, it strives to ensure a recycling system committed to the conservation of natural resources. 

More about the NRC award.