CSUN Reaches No. 5 in North American Sustainable Campus Index

Smiling people putting trash in different recycling bins.

At Earth Fair 2019, students learn about zero waste and sustainability through activities such as sorting waste items into the correct bins. Photo by David J. Hawkins.

California State University, Northridge has earned another stellar ranking from the nation’s largest organization for sustainability in higher education.

This week, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) ranked CSUN No. 5 among all master’s degree-level institutions in its Sustainable Campus Index.

The recognition marked several years in a row AASHE has honored CSUN for its efforts and achievements in sustainability. In 2016, the association awarded CSUN a gold rating in its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). This latest ranking marks the third consecutive year the university has completed the complex and rigorous STARS application. AASHE also named CSUN a top performer in diversity and affordability. CSUN continues to be one of the top performers in the CSU system.

The Princeton Review also uses the STARS ratings as a basis for their lists of “Green Colleges,” and the Sierra Club uses the ratings for its list of “Cool Schools.”

The latest Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 different categories of sustainability related to academics, engagement, operations and administration. The lists are based on institutions’ STARS ratings. CSUN was one of three CSUs in the top 10, along with Sacramento State and Chico State.

“Having CSUN mentioned and recognized in the AASHE Sustainable Campus Index is a great honor, and something that we are very excited about,” said CSUN Director of Energy and Sustainability Austin Eriksson, who spearheaded the STARS application. “This year we climbed up the rankings quite a bit and are listed fifth in the ‘Overall Top Performers for Masters Institutions!’ We are also listed as a top performer in the water impact section alongside only one other CSU. CSUN also received special recognition for our Sustainability Center.”

More than 750 colleges and universities in 24 countries have registered for the STARS rating system, according to AASHE. Of those, more than 380 institutions have achieved a platinum, gold, silver or bronze rating, or recognition as a “STARS Reporter.”

CSUN scored highly for water conservation, as well as in the area of campus engagement — including peer-to-peer education and student ambassadors through Associated Students Recycling. The university has made immense progress and changes to its campus sustainability efforts and programming. Some of the biggest accomplishments over the past several years include opening the Sustainability Center, creating and implementing a campus-wide Zero Waste Plan​, Earth Week and reducing water consumption on campus by more than 55 million gallons per year.


To read AASHE’s Sustainable Campus Index report or for more information about the rating system, visit the association’s website. To learn more about campus sustainability efforts, visit the CSUN Sustainability website.

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