Entryway sign lit up green for St. Patricks Day and for Sustainability. March 16, 2022. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

What is Sustainability?

A universal commitment to sustainability

The United Nations Brundtland Commission defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” (Source: United Nations). The UN has established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) that the University of Connecticut and Office of Sustainability strive to achieve in our operations, academics, and experiential learning programs. The UNSDGs form the "framework for improving the lives of populations around the world" as well as reducing the "hazardous man-made effects of climate change."

Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals in this video by the United Nations. Key goals for sustainability performance as determined by the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) include good health and well-being, clean water, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, climate action, protection of aquatic and terrestrial life, human rights, and more. 

UNSDGs poster

AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)

Each year, the Office of Sustainability completes the AASHE STARS report for the University of Connecticut. Designed to measure and acknowledge sustainability efforts across all categories of higher education institutions, the STARS report provides institutions with a framework for addressing sustainability and a means to compare their progress with their peers internationally. The report also serves as a level of prestige in the realm of sustainability, encouraging universities to make meaningful strides in sustainability programs and infrastructure to improve their STARS rating.

STARS also serves as a metric of a university's contributions towards the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are five main sections for credit within the report: Academics (AC), Engagement (EN), Operations (OP), Planning & Administration (PA), and Innovation & Leadership (IN). The credits and their related SDGs are shown below:

  • Academics (AC): Goals 4, 13
  • Engagement (EN): Goals 4, 12, 13
  • Operations (OP): Goals 3, 7, 11, 13
  • Planning & Administration (PA): Goals 5, 11, 13, 16, 17
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STARS gold seal