Luther College has been named one of the most sustainable schools in the nation.
Luther received a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. AASHE also ranked Luther in the top 10 baccalaureate institutions in the U.S. in their “2019 Sustainable Campus Index” report.
“We have been building towards this for the last 12 years, so it is great to have our efforts acknowledged,” Toby Cain, Luther’s sustainability coordinator, said.
In their annual publication, AASHE dedicated a section to Luther’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Reimbursement Program, calling it exemplary. In 2002, Luther launched the CSA program to encourage healthy diets among faculty and staff. Participants receive a 50 percent reimbursement on vegetable CSA shares as long as they participate in two food education events.
When asked what other efforts elevate Luther’s work in sustainability, Cain emphasized Luther’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030, a plan initiated by President Richard Torgerson in 2007 and affirmed by the Board of Regents in 2012.
“In 2020 we will hopefully be 70 percent there; we are almost at 60 percent in reduction of our carbon footprint from our peak in 2004,” said Cain. “I think it was a very ambitious goal but it’s pushed the college in a lot of exciting ways. We put in a wind turbine and have six different solar arrays and have been doing a ton of work on energy efficiency and education. All of these things make Luther shine.”
Part of Luther’s mission is to “practice joyful stewardship of the resources that surround us.” To fulfill that mission, Luther has a long tradition of recycling and composting, using produce from the gardens in the cafeteria, employing hybrid, electric and biodiesel vehicles in the campus fleet and constructing buildings based on the Green Building Policy.
AASHE also looked into factors typically not associated with sustainability including affordability, pay equity, diversity and accessibility. More information and links to these reports can be found at luther.edu/headlines.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.
Source: Decorah Newspapers, 9/4/19.