UWRF receives sustainability distinctions

Posted 11/16/21

RIVER FALLS – The University of Wisconsin- River Falls commitment to sustainability has once again been recognized as the university’s efforts to expand sustainable practices continue to grow. …

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UWRF receives sustainability distinctions


RIVER FALLS – The University of Wisconsin- River Falls commitment to sustainability has once again been recognized as the university’s efforts to expand sustainable practices continue to grow. The campus has received numerous accolades over the past several months, most recently being featured in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges 2022 Edition.

“Recognition of our sustainability successes is exciting and serves to acknowledge UWRF’s sustainability vision and values,” said UWRF Chancellor Maria Gallo. “The university is committed to being a leader in engaging students, employees and the broader community in shared accountability for sustainability efforts now and into the future.”

Additionally, UW-River Falls became an affiliate of Bee Campus USA in July, earned a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in August and was named to the 2021 Sierra Club’s Cool Schools List in September.

“I am absolutely thrilled that UW-River Falls has received these recognitions. These positive distinctions are the results of significant ongoing efforts of many students, faculty, staff and community members,” said UWRF Sustainability and Custodial Supervisor Mark Klapatch-Mathias. “While these distinctions are phenomenal for our campus, there is significant work to be done regarding sustainability on campus and within our community. We are certainly proud of our accomplishments, but this is not the end game. We still have work to do and will continue to advocate for and strive to be a more sustainable campus.”

Bee Campus USA Affiliation

The Bee Campus USA program is designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators. UW-River Falls joins other cities and campuses across the country united in improving their landscapes for pollinators. Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA are initiatives of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Ore., with offices across the country. The mission is to galvanize communities and campuses to sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants, and free of pesticides. Pollinators like bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees, honeybees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds, and many others are responsible for the reproduction of almost 90% of the world’s flowering plant species and one in every three bites of food we consume.

The UWRF Bee Club, a student organization aimed at raising awareness of pollinator habitat conservation and benefits, was instrumental in helping UWRF become a Bee Campus USA affiliate.

“I would like to thank all the students, faculty, and community members who have helped us over the last year to join the ranks of Bee Campus USA. This last year was not an easy one for anyone. However, we persevered and through campus outreach and the creation/ sale of many bee-themed masks, we raised enough awareness and funds to achieve this title,” said Bee Club president Lexie Schalk. “I look forward to using this new platform to continue to work together and to aid in efforts to raise awareness and increase native pollinator habitation in our area.”

More information on Bee Campus USA can be found at www.uwrf.edu/Sustainability/Bee-Club-Bee-Campus-USA.cfm.

STARS Silver Rating

In recognition of its sustainability achievements, UW-River Falls has been awarded a STARS Silver Rating from AASHE. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

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. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: Academic, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

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

The UWRF STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website at reports.aashe.org/institutions/university-ofwisconsin- river-falls-wi/report/2021-06-30/. An executive summary can be found at www.uwrf.edu/Sustainability/upload/STAR S-Silver-Executive-Summary-2021-2.pdf.

Sierra Club’s List of Cool Schools

2021 marks The Sierra Club’s 15th annual “Cool Schools” ranking of North America’s greenest colleges and universities. This year, Sierra received submissions from a recordbreaking 328 schools across the United States and Canada. Using a customized scoring system, independent researchers ranked colleges and universities based on academic criteria, such as environmentally-focused curricula, student engagement with environmental activism, renewable energy and waste management operations and schools’ planning and administrative standards. UW-River Falls has consistently been included on the list over the years. The full list of colleges and universities along with their ratings can be found at www.sierraclub.org/sierra/cool-schools-2021/cool-schools-2021-full-ranking.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges UW-River Falls has been featured in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges 2022 Edition, solidifying the institution as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review ®. The guide, released on Oct. 26, is available at www.princetonreview.com/greenguide.

The Princeton Review selected the 420 schools in the guide based on its annual survey of administrators at 835 colleges. Administrators were surveyed about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points to select the schools.

“We strongly recommend UW-River Falls to students who care about the environment and want to study and live at a green college,” said Rob Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor- in-chief. “UW-River Falls offers excellent academics and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability that is exemplary on many counts.”

Franek noted that The Princeton Review has seen an increasing level of interest among students in attending colleges with green practices, programs and offerings. Seventy-eight percent of the more than 11,000 college applicants that participated in The Princeton Review’s 2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey said that having information about a college’s commitment to the environment would affect their decision to apply to or attend a school. This was a 12% increase over the 2020 survey results.

For more information about UWRF’s sustainability efforts, visit www.uwrf.edu/Sustainability/ Index.cfm or email Mark Klapatch-Mathias at [email protected]

Submitted by UW-River Falls